Thoughts and tales from the saddle - on my own in Europe.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Learning Curve

If last weekend was a reality check, this weekend was definitely a steep learning curve.

I had always said that I wanted the bike in time for the last May Bank Holiday weekend, so I could make use of the three days to torture myself.

Having had problems with the racks and luggage, it was good to finally have everything as it should be, and be able to load it up and get out on the road. My first experience of a fully-loaded bike was as strange, scary and enjoyable as I thought it would be. Friday night was only 11 miles to the New Forest, but that was enough after a day at work, and to get used to the handling of the bike.

The next day we aimed for Swanage, and set off into a relentless wind. After a couple of hours both Herbie (my brother) and I were completely exhausted, and experienced what I think is called 'The Bonk'. Proper cyclists out there may wish to correct me on that. Anyway - we were knackered. My legs were wobbly, I felt sick, my head was spinning. I was completely spent.

There are two important things to note here - 1. I had eaten a minimal breakfast of some horrible cous cous and a cereal bar. 2. That's all I had eaten.

Apart from the lack of general cycling fitness, food was the key thing here. So there we go - lesson learnt. Eat more!

A chocolate bar and energy drink later and we were back on the road heading for Swanage. The wind kept at us but we were eating up the miles. We finally arrived in Swanage in the afternoon after 50 miles and about 4.5 hours in the saddle. Not too bad.

The following day we had what proved to be an easier ride back through the New Forest to home.

All told I did 130 miles over the weekend, 110 of which were fully loaded. All equipment performed as expected, with the exception of the bar bag (which lost a rivet - but a replacement is already in the post from the manufacturer) and a couple of gears on the bike that have started slipping. I am taking it in for fine tuning tonight.

Lessons learnt:

1. I need to be fitter for the summer France trip
2. Food is very important
3. Panniers filled with 'stuff' are heavy
4. Hills and wind are my enemy, but I will have to learn to love them
5. Food is very important


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