Pain and punishment in the Valleys

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Just before his 13 birthday, my younger son Michael and I completed the Coast to Coast ride from Whitehaven to Tynemouth (225km) in four days. I was immensely proud of him for taking it on and completing it at that age - it is not something I could have done. He was, as he is today, great company on the ride. We amused ourselves by making up our own rules of cycling during the day with things like, 'you are always riding into a headwind', 'people who ride bikes in trainers must be overtaken' and 'if you overtake you had better make it stick'. But our number one rule was/is "what goes down, must go up". That inverted rule was in my head all day today as I rode from Swansea to Gloucester over 161km. It seemed like every bloody town or village in Wales is built on a 6% hill as a minimum. Rachel often works away from home at weekends as a tutor for England Athletics and I have taken to going with her and spending the day riding as far as I can or want to and have her pick me up on her way home. I get in a ride in some new places and I really like A to B rides anyway. This weekend I specifically choose a hard route from Swansea to test out my legs and back on climbs, test the bar bag again fully loaded and my mental ability to cope with long days alone in the saddle. In the end all passed, although it was touch and go with my head frankly and I had to talk myself into the final 30km because I was cooked. By the time I got to Gloucester I was sick of hills and idiot drivers and I was freezing cold. But this is only Wales. Not Switzerland. The Alps are going to be a damn sight harder. There will need to be more training days like these. Unfortunately.

I look happier than I should at the top of the Brecon Beacons. Probably just because lunch in Abergavenny is calling and its all downhill to get there


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