Updated: Sep 10, 2019
The Festive 500 is a joint challenge set by Strava and Rapha to ride 500km between Christmas eve and new year's eve. In completing it last year, one of the most important things I learned was to take the kilometres / miles wherever you can get them. If you are feeling good on any day, push in and bank it so that when the inevitable happens and you are struggling, you can allow yourself a slower day. I had this in mind when I missed out my planned rest day in Switzerland on Saturday. This has allowed me to have a couple of shorter days in the coming week. Something else I figured out last night while looking over the route and the stats, is that I don't believe the route I'm following is 1800km. It's more like 1500km because of the shortcuts my German mapper friend had taken. Plus I think 1800km is the full distance from Pavia in Italy. I originally planned on doing the distance in 14 days, with two rest days. There's no way I could do that now. I overestimated the speed I would go, I'm averaging 15kph not 20kph, and underestimated the effect of the extra time in the saddle. As a result I need to keep riding every day to hit the original target of arriving in London on Tuesday 10th July. Or not. I can take longer or adjust the route to suit myself. I think I have already established that riding home from Milan, whatever way I do it, will be the hardest physical challenge of my life. It would be tough at any age but I'm chuffed to be doing it now in my 50's. If I had kept going the way I was in my early 30's I would be huge by now and playing golf badly once a week. So Day 7 would be a shorter day with a late start. Last night's Airbnb was a huge hit. I had dinner with the family, got my kit cleaned, watched the world cup and generally rested. This morning they made me breakfast as well and I spent an hour listening to music and stretching. The restorative power of a good night's sleep is not to be underestimated. On top of that, an hour of my favourite motivational tunes, really got me ready for the ride today. The combination of all that has breathed new life into my legs. The first 20km today was glorious on flat smooth tarmac alongside a canal. I had to remind myself to control my speed and effort because you never know what is to come. After that there was 25km of the old back of housing estate cycle paths and minor roads. The Garmin and I have reached a truce; it's not going to give me directions, but it will beep immediately I go wrong, allowing me trace back to the last junction. This is especially helpful today as in this region the trend is for the direction signs to appear after a turning. Finally some main roads with enough climbing to remind me my legs had not yet recovered, including one short sharp 9% which hurt.
So, uneventful in the extreme, but as easy a 60km as I will get here on the trip. I remind myself it's a recovery day. My host for this evening speaks as much English as I speak French, so we've had a comedy half hour together, the likes of which you normally only see in British 1970's sitcoms. Still an afternoon and evening by a lakeside should be perfect recovery for a bigger day tomorrow.