This weekend saw me head to the Lake District in the north-west of the UK to get in some serious mileage and climbing with my friends Matt and Allan.
Although the actual event is not until the second week of May, we decided to take on the route of the Fred Whitton Challenge (www.fredwhittonchallenge.org.uk). This is a stunning tour of the Lake District, taking in all the main passes and postcard vistas. It is also a challenging day in the saddle. 116 miles later, 3,500 metres climbed and 8 hours 30 minutes having passed, we made it back to our B&B.
It is not until you are changed and showered after your ride that you really start to appreciate what you have just done. It must be part of the recovery process - a post-ride creep of endorphins to wipe away memories of suffering up those 30% gradients. What amplifies this feeling further is that on a day like Saturday, this was a shared experience. To spend so long with your friends doing the same thing and supporting each other through such a physically and mentally demanding activity builds strong bonds. Regardless of where you find yourself in life, the bike is a powerful leveler and a shared bike ride brings you together. That and a truck load of juvenile toilet talk.
Never underestimate the power of the velo.
There is no truer statement when it comes to my friend Simon Evans. He spent 18 months cycling around the world with his mate Fearghal O’ Nuallain between November 2008 and May 2010. Check out their story here http://revolutioncycleblog.wordpress.com/ Simon is now a bicycle designer (http://twistbikes.com/about-us/) hoping to change the face of children's bikes forever.
So, in summary, a great weekend had. After Matt and Allan departed, I got in another 35 miles (in the Sunday wind and rain) to reach Oxenholme station. I felt I had earned my weekend first class upgrade back to London. Without doubt the TdF training has upped a gear. So far it's all looking good for the May build phase and hopefully the perfect peak for the start of the TdF on 22 June.