Since my ‘Going up a gear‘ post, I have done just that, with two pretty hefty training rides the last two Fridays. It’s been satisfying and I’ve seen some beautiful countryside, but I’ll admit I’ve struggled to enjoy doing the distances, both from a comfort point of view but also from a time perspective.
The first ride I did was one I first created and rode back in 2015 when I was training for the RideLondon. It starts in mid Kent and heads down to the coast at Dungeness, via Romney Marsh, before tracking the beach across to Camber Sands and turning back inland at Rye. It’s just under 93 miles and takes in 3,900 feet of climbing. It’s generally a brilliant route, with beautiful and quite lanes all the way down to the coast, the strange allure of Romney Marsh, the chance to breathe in the sea air and then turning back home through yet more stunning and deserted Kent lanes. However… that 30 miles or so from the beginning of Romney Marsh up to Rye is absolutely pan flat (you can see it from the elevation graph on my Strava) and exposed to the coastal wind. I find it more difficult that any hill I’ve climbed and the monotony of the distance is a bit of a killer too (Dungeness power station being the headline sight for the bulk of this stretch too) So a route thoroughly recommended, but do it with your eyes open and be prepared for the flatland slog that awaits at the coast…
For the second ride, I thought I’d head back over to my old training ground, the Surrey Hills. I was living in Guildford back when training for Land’s End to John O’Groats, so used to head out to Box Hill, Combe Lane, Ranmore and Coldharbour quite a lot. There are some cracking hills around there and some lesser known parts too, which aren’t overrun with other cyclists, like Box Hill is these days. This was a new route that I had planned so had a few patches of ‘that road looks ok on Google Maps’ which I was risking, and the first half heading out west was purely designed to get me to Box Hill as quickly as possible, so it had a bit too much of the A25 in it. Much busier than the previous ride then, and I don’t think I’d choose to do it again, but the Surrey Hills were lovely as always and had a nostalgic attractiveness which kept me going. Predictably, this route was much hillier and involved just under 6,500 feet of climbing over 104 miles. No wonder that when I left, I got stuck in the school run rush hour and when I came back, I got stuck in the end of school rush hour!
I’ve also done a couple of smaller rides (10-15 miles) focusing on speed and heart rate rather than distance and time. I’m no expert, but I assume it’s a good idea to do this to mix the training up and introduce some variety.
The other major thing I’ve done is tweak my bike set up a little. I’ve tipped the saddle a couple of degrees nose downwards and also removed some of the spacers under the stem, as my flexibility is improving and I can comfortably get into a lower position than I could before.
I’m entered into the Pearson Cycles 150km ‘Brighton and Back’ sportive this weekend and the Castle Ride 100 the following weekend, so picking up the sportives again as my training continues… not long until the Dragon Ride now!
Thanks for reading.