Prepared for the off early this morning I ignored the dark clouds above and stole hope from the odd ray of sunshine that dared to show itself.
It is definately a labour of love this training malarky. Fed up with being wet and cold on a bike... the winter hangover has persisted but must be persevered through and it was with that in mind and a few hours to kill that I set off
this morning. It didnt take long to attach all my kit to my bike. Literally ALL the kit that I am taking with me on the test of my life so far... the Tour Divide Race.
The Ridgeway start, just outside of Streatley, is a hell of an introduction. Legs that haven't got a clue of the punishment about to be faced are thrown into the fray with a hill that climbs up onto the ridge... Stony.. slippy... full of bumps (and often bruises) and a constantly wearing gradient... it continues for what seems like forever (to unprepared legs). My mind however was prepared and knew what was coming... the gears were low and I spun up the hill. The top.. when it eventually came... greets with a view across unspoilt countryside. Perhaps nothing to rival what I may see in June and July but beauty nonetheless.
The bags on my bike barely felt like they were there... the weight was not incapacitating and the manoeverability not affected in the slightest. My new tyres... now tubeless ... seemed springy and fast... the combination I hoped for when making my choice. In short it was all falling into place.
The peace and quiet was only occasionally broken by walkers generally with dogs... though these ones were kept under control as I passed and fortunately my ankles were safe from snapping jaws... this time.
I wasn't pushing it... I wanted to keep a steady pace... designed to be continued for the hours that I will be in the saddle. In short trying to replicate the mindset of the race... keep turning the pedals... when stopped eat.. drink... take photos... film. Try to do all the things at the same time to save time and be efficient with the stops.
Once on the ridge it was clear what a difference a couple of months makes. Not the quagmire I had encountered last time... instead dry dusty rutted and washboarded trails. A different kind of concentration required.
The weather stayed dull and slightly chilly with the occasional ray of sunshine... but I was not cold nor did I overheat. The layering system I am applying was working fantastically and am pleased with my kit choices so far.
In fact all was going swimmingly. The views distracted... the music in my ears delighted and I was actually thoroughly enjoying myself on a bike ... for the first time in a while it felt unlike a training run and more like I was already out on the trails... in the middle of a great journey.
Even with stops to do some promo filming I was covering the ground at a steady pace with an average of over 10 mph... which including stops... isnt too bad.
Not having the time to spend all day out and about as I have a night shift tonight... I spent about 2 hours outbound and then turned back the way I had come. A different perspective and it was on the way back that my mind turned to the task I had set myself this time.
I have fear... fear of failing and disappointing people... fear of bears... fear of night riding to name a few but today I dwelt on the wonderful opportunity I have to see parts of the world that are unspoilt and desolate... where wild animals still roam (and rule) and how lucky I am that Im alive and able to attempt these craZy things.
Over the next 2 months I will manage a few more training ridez in the countdown to the 27th June when the pedals will once again begin turning and if you keep an eye on my facebook page 'One Challenge At A Time' you will be able to see the photos ... read the blogs and learn how you can follow this year's journey.
The legs felt good
The kit worked well
The bike is great
It is Time To Believe!