Sunday, 25 July 2010

• 42 Miles and... *BONK*!!

Newmarket Loop, originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.

This was a ride that started out like a dream - and ended like a nightmare...

"Following through on last week's promise to make our way to Newmarket, we set out in warm sunshine on the familiar route through Bottisham as far as Burwell. The wonderful cycling conditions and familiarity of the route led us to ride this opening section at a brisk pace. Continuing after a comfort break, we made our way through the town and out to the east on Heath Road to Exning. From there we rode into Newmarket where we stopped to eat our picnic. The following section of the ride can only be described as 'epic'. Between Newmarket and Six Mile Bottom we were confronted by a constant sequence of rolling hills and, the last half, a strong westerly headwind. Once we'd made our way through all this, we returned home on familiar roads through the Wilburhams and Fulbourn." --Steve

I was excited about this ride - we'd be cycling on familiar roads to begin with then moving into unfamiliar territory once we left Burwell. All went well on this stretch of the route; it was a lovely day for cycling and there were quite a few cyclists out making the most of the day. At one point we found ourselves sandwiched between two 'elderly' (that word becomes more and more ominous with each passing year!) cyclists and felt we were part of a cyclist version of the 'Gray Panthers'!

It was exciting, too, because we would be foregoing our usual stops (Bottinsham & Reach) to make Burwell our first real stop of the ride. I can't recall riding 15 miles without a break. After a brief stop to powder our noses and check the map, the next stop was Exning.

The route between Exning and Newmarket was completely residential. We noted, with some concern, the large number of houses up for sale; in places it seemed that 1-in-3 houses had a 'For Sale' sign in the front garden. We passed through in silence, both of us wondering what was happening in the town and surrounding area to cause people to move away.

Our first impressions of Newmarket were not much better. The town looked depressed (not at all helped by the weather, which by this time, had turned grey and overcast.) The town itself appeared, for the most part, to be deserted. Because of this the shared cycle/pedestrian way seemed wider, perhaps, than it actually was. We rode past the desolate and neglected looking rail station and stopped by the roadside to eat on the southern outskirts of the town.

I'm still too shell-shocked to adequately describe what befell us on the road towards home. Hills. That's all I can say. They seemed to come from nowhere each one looking daunting-but-not-TOO-bad!  I fell into the drops of my handlebars, hoping these would offer me the leverage and relatively 'streamlined' form I'd need to get over and through these hills. *Sigh*

I started out well enough, keeping up with Steve - to the surprise of both of us. I struggled at times but was always able to find the energy when necessary. I felt pretty good. So up-and-down we went, riding into the wind, mile after mile. At each map check, Steve asked me how I was doing and I replied, in all honesty, "Pretty Good".

And then, it happened: I started the final climb before Six Mile Bottom and suddenly ran out of everything. I slowed to a crawl and grovelled up the hill, completely out of energy. It all happened so quickly that when I stopped I was in the middle of the road (albeit almost traffic-free) towards the end of a gentle rise. I remember looking up the road and thinking, angrily, "Whatever next?" I grit my teeth and jumped on the pedals anticipating the burst of acceleration, present during the the earlier parts of the ride, to carry me over the rise.  But this had deserted me.  I remember whimpering 'Oh nooo' and coming to a complete stop. I drooped over the handlebars and waited for Steve, my knight.  I'd 'bonked'! I can't remember the last time I did that (and it certainly hasn't happened in recent years!) Yikes!

Steve carefully assessed me and then waited while I did my best to regain my composure. I'd hit 'the wall' - and Steve knew what I was in for on the final run-in to home!  And so he nursed me home, slowly, coaxing me along. My head was spinning and I was confused but he knew this and gently guided me and my bike all the way home.

Once home, I allowed myself the luxury of dropping onto the sofa like a leaden lump. I didn't move for several minutes. Steve covered me with a blanket as I was feeling very cold. In time, I found my way to the shower and afterwards ran a hot bath and soaked in that for a while. While I was bathing, Steve prepared dinner - pasta with sundried tomato pesto. (Thanks, Hon!)

Now, bathed, fed, rested (and blogged!) - I'm turning in..... zzzzz


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