Yesterday I cycled to Whitstable, on the Kent coast, for lunch. 63 miles, mostly flat although with two or three hills, following Watling Street, the old Roman road, down towards Canterbury.
I'm quite exhausted today, and I have a bit of an ache on a tendon under my right knee which doesn't bode well, but I learnt quite a bit:
1. The tip is to aim to do two thirds of your daily miles by lunchtime, as the afternoon is inevitably slower going. If I can manage 60 miles by lunch, leaving 20 or 30 for the afternoon, I'll be on target.
2. 1.5 litres of water weighs quite a bit (1.5 kilos, as it happens) When going through areas well-supplied with shops, buy water more often and in smaller bottles.
3. There's no shame in stopping, and no advantage in bravado. If tired when going up hills, stop. Lactic acid builds up quite quickly in the legs, but a 5 minute break can refresh them.
4. A baseball cap is useless as a tiny gust of wind whips it off. A headband keeps the sweat out of your eyes, but makes your hair stand up stupidly.
5. I left at 7.15 and made it by 12.45, so 5.5 hours on the road, including a few small breaks, at an average of nearly 14 mph when rolling. The net 12mph figure is the important one for me, it gives me a guide to how long I should expect to be on the road during the day. 7 hours of riding will get me my daily target, but that presumes no hills, so some days I’ll have to exceed that.
6. Tendonitis could be a killer. I was fine during my ride down, but when I tried to cycle back from Victoria at night my knee was aching. It may be that I need to take a day or two off during my trip to recuperate.
7. I think taking books with me is a bit ambitious - I reckon I'll be far too tired every night to read anything. But I can't go two weeks without a book to hand...
8. My cycling clothes don't dry overnight from washing.
9. When on a main A road in the country, with traffic and juggernauts, but narrow lanes, it can be safer to ride on the pavement. Yes, I know you're not meant to, but there are often no pedestrians within a mile in these areas, and it's really no fun having a supermarket lorry speed past you at 50mph leaving 18 inches gap.
I had a delicious (and hugely expensive) lunch in Whitstable - razorshell clams, lobster, sticky toffee pudding (I needed the calories!) and lots of Chablis with friends. That's not going to be my normal fare on this trip - I couldn't afford it for a start!
I have a few pics which I'll upload tonight.