Train stopped play

Audax and a rail strike, not entirely optimal. I’d signed up to do the Herts Greenways 100k – a distinctly low-stress audax, intended for pootling through back lanes and greenways (the clue is in the name), long enough ago that (a) my gravel bike had not yet acquired it’s J-shaped derailleur cage (replacement due Any Day Now. I hope) and (b) the rail strike summer of 2023 had not started/been announced.

I had intended to ride the gravel bike – it’s ideal for this terrain. That was out of the question with the cage in the condition it’s in right now; I need the three gears that the cage cannot now reach, or my knee will be distinctly unhappy on anything that isn’t pretty much flat. The road bike is a nope; it can’t take tyres wider than 25mm and, although it was ok on one of the greenways a week or so back, we’ve had rain since then and I really don’t dare ride sketchy terrain on skinny tyres. If I fall on my left knee one more time (and any bike fall is always to the left, for me) there’s a fair possibility that I won’t walk away from it, or indeed walk for some considerable time afterwards.

So, that left the mountain bike. Which is a lovely bike but as aero as a brick and accordingly slow, and exhausting. To be fair, it’s not really intended for trying to ride at any sort of speed and I have no real experience of riding it longer distances – I tend to do 25-30 km rides on trails/tracks around this area. As there was a fair possibility that I simply wouldn’t finish the ride on this bike, I didn’t want to drive to the start so that I could bail without having to beg a lift from family back to the start to retrieve my car – and playing into all of this was the fact that the audax route passes about 50m from home …

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Back to audax

Yes, I’ve been a bit absent here – the back issues have been a pest, although it’s now beginning to seem more likely that they are now not back issues (they were definitely back issues last year and the year before) but have become knee issues. The problems morphed a bit but were still somewhat similar to back issue symptoms, but a recent MRI shows my knee is a little bit toast. This seems more likely trauma (an MTB accident three years ago) than arthritis. I suppose that’s good?

I’ve been back on the turbo for a while, and back to strength training. I’ve been doing mobility work as well and that seems to be paying off in that I definitely have more mobility (dynamic cyclist program – not sponsored, not an ad, I just like it).

I went, I rode. I dithered the night before, worrying whether I’d be fit enough etc etc. I decided to drop from the 100k to the 50k, from some caution – I haven’t ridden for much more than an hour, even on the turbo, this year. I don’t think I’ve ridden more then 30km or so either, so 50k seemed a manageable increase, whereas 100k was possibly overdoing it.

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Ride: Mildenhall Festival 200k

The somewhat nebulous training ideas* for the next 12 months include doing a 200k ride each month as part of a block weekend, with the second part of the block increasing in length each month. So I dragged myself up at stupid o’clock to drive 70 miles in order to ride 125 miles (then drive back 70 miles). Read more