Both my favourite and least favourite part of ‘ultra distance’ cycling is the solidarity. Nothing sets your head straight quite like endless hours with just your thoughts for company. I love switching off and entertaining the random thoughts that enter your head – particularly when you’re too exhausted to apply any kind of filter to which single thought is going to rattle around your head for the next couple of hours.
At the same time, it can get pretty lonely. There is a limited pool of people willing to ride long distance, fewer who can get regular ‘passes’ and fewer still who want to do it as fast as possible, while minimising stopping time (don’t get me wrong, I love a good cafe stop when I’m not training). I’m usually OK when I’m on the road, but that initial step of getting out of the door can be a challenge when the only person you’re letting down by not riding is yourself.
The internet provides a good alternative – tell enough people your plans and simple peer pressure will usually get you out of bed. Every so often though, it’s very helpful having a supportive girlfriend who happens to race bikes. I doubt I’ll ever get her out for anything longer than 100 miles (although she did once lap Mallorca with me), but regular time on the bike is better than yet another Sunday in bed.
With that in mind, I need to make a suitably stupid statement about the coming bank holiday. It’s the perfect opportunity for a 3 day mini tour… perhaps a 1,000km tour down to Lands End and back via some sights and detours? More thought and planning required, but I think there’s an adventure to be had. I doubt I’ll get anyone keen to join the whole thing, but I reckon I can clue in a few riders en-route to help keep me motivated and on schedule.