Where has the time gone?! Panic set in this weekend when the three of us doing the London-Surrey100 realised we only have two weeks until the big day.
I think it is fair to say that none of us really feel prepared. Fitting in the training alongside our work and family commitments – especially as a very long term draws slowly to a close – has been a challenge. We’ve reassured ourselves that we’ll be fine, but it’s all a little hopeful in tone…
So, with that slight fear tingeing our discussions, we decided to think carefully about our last long ride before the main event. After last week’s ride, I reviewed the published route and confirmed my fear that our last ride, we hadn’t done the proper ride up Leith Hill! So we agreed to correct that and take on Leith and Box hills again – the two big hills in the middle of the overall ride.
Two of us set out early on Sunday morning – cloudy but warm – determined to put our fears to rest. We set out on familiar roads and were enjoying ourselves. Ten miles or so in, we saw the (correct!) sign for Leith Hill and prepared ourselves, hydrating ourselves and easing our pace for the ascent to the highest point in Surrey.
We were not alone, suddenly finding ourselves in the middle of a number of other riders, some of whom were participating in a sportive and others like us preparing for the August ride.
The organisers describe a gentle incline preparing for the main ascent. The organisers are clearly either very under-stated in their descriptions or downright liars! After ten minutes, my legs were aching and I was dripping with sweat (I know, lovely mental picture for you!). And then the hill proper started!! It was horrible. It looks innocuous enough but it just kept on going up, up, up.
Having other riders around helped, mainly because it would have been too shameful to have got off and walked in front of the other riders. But it was the closest I have come for a long time in getting off and pushing. All I could think was that if it hurt this much after a ten mile ride beforehand, how is it going to feel on the day when I’ll have ridden 40-45 miles?
Finally, I did make it. I couldn’t actually describe to my friend how much it hurt – not because I couldn’t think of the words (I could, but they are not ones to share in public!) but because I couldn’t actually talk! But, the important point was that I had actually made it. I now know that I am capable of making it, so have no excuse in two weeks’ time to wimp out.
And the going up has one big benefit – the going down the other side! The ride down is an absolute joy, 30-40mph all the way! Such a buzz!
After the Leith Hill ordeal, we were quickly back to the old friend Box Hill, which, despite still feeling Leith Hill in my legs, felt so much easier. And then the last ten miles home, which felt great but it was with relief when I could flop at home with a large cold drink!.
We averaged 16mph, we’d done the two biggest hills on the route, and we’d lived to tell the tale. I’m really pleased but now have a lot more respect for a ride that must clearly not be taken lightly!
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