Monday, 4 February 2013

LEL Prep - Weeks 3-5

The cold, snowy, icy weather was making the planned 200km audax look like a bad idea. However, after a big snowfall on the Friday, it melted, the rain came Saturday and night temps stayed around 6 degrees celcius so it all looked better. I decided to go for it but was concious the roads would be full detritus and there may be localized flooding so opted to ride the heavy, mudguarded, bullet proof tourer in preference to the road bike.

I cycled the 11 miles to the start and joined the 80 or so other cyclists for an 08.00hrs start. The weather was cold and showery with a fierce headwind on the outward leg. I found I was not achieving my expected average speed although was still within the audax time limits. I put this down to the heavy bike, the headwind and the undulating rather than 'flat' terrain i had expected.  Flooding was quite severe as well - often several metres long and above hub height in places with no way round. This slowed things down a tad too.

On the return leg, darkness had descended as I made my way along some unlit country lanes towards Wilmslow. The bike and lights were working well but I had been on the go for 11 hrs or so and covered 120 odd miles. My right knee was playing up and the GPS display had stopped lighting up due to a low battery. The knee has been a teeny bit painful for a few months and i wondered if it was down to age related changes made worse by the distance cycled - not good news if this was the case. I was still able to cycle on it but was having to take it much easier so my speed dropped further and i started to get cold. The GPS was revitalised with a plug in battery pack for another hr or so before this gave up the ghost.

I was now just 6 or 7 miles from the finish but cold, in pain and not sure which way to go along the unlit and generally unsigned lanes. I decided to quit and cycled a couple of miles to Alderley Edge to find a pub and arrange a lift. I still could have finished the audax in time and would have done my first 200k of 2013 but I had achieved what i'd set out to do. I had covered the distance without too much problem and done my imperial century for January. I'd confirmed my heavy bike is not the one to use for audaxing and decided the Edge 705 GPS, even with an external battery pack, is not adequate for 10+ hr rides.

So my wife collected me from a pub a few whiskys later. The next day I hobbled into work (A&E) and got an XR of the leg. No bony changes found - PHEW! The pain also changed in nature and became more of a band like pain down the outer thigh so probably muscular in origin. Painkillers helped and within 3 days I was walking almost normally. I didn't ride the bike for 5 days though!