In 2018 my big cycling event was riding a 1200km DIY audax from Bath-Great Yarmouth-Aberystwyth-Bath.
I made a series of YouTube videos about the event from initial planning to updates about training & preparation and then 3 videos about the ride itself. This trip started off quite easy with a beneficial tailwind on day one but then got steadily harder until I was unsure of whether I would finish within the time allowance of 90 hours. I eventually scraped in with just over 40 minutes to spare. I finished exhausted by sleep deprivation and fatigue which was mostly due to long sections of headwind in the middle third of the route. This slow progress meant I had to limit any stopping and ride through the last night without any sleep just to be in with a chance of completing on time.
So, this blog series will be about how I manage fatigue and what I do to keep myself going when the going is hard. It is about what I have learnt through experience, through trial & error and how I have adopted the ideas of others and then adapted them to suit my own needs and to minimise the chances of quitting and giving up.
I already have a big ride in mind for 2019 and this provides a perfect opportunity to use the planning and preparation to explain some of the techniques I use and how I have come to find what does and what does not work for me. Like all learning it is not definitive….it is work in progress.
My plan for 2019 is to ride an End to End from Dover to Cape Wrath as 7 seperate 200km DIY by GPS audax rides back to back.
I have found that goal setting and then figuring out how to meet that goal works well for me. It keeps me interested and motivated, or to put it another way; it stops me getting bored and losing momentum. It helps me maintain focus and it also plays to my strengths as I enjoy designing my own custom made routes, the logistics required to pull it off, problem solving and learning new things along the way. Learning from things going wrong in the past has taught me much more in the long run than when things go seamlessly smooth. It also allows me to overlay a potent idea I came across years ago which at first glance seems totally un-related but which I have discovered is anything but. More about that in the next post…
Another main part of WHY is a thirst for adventure and exploring and an appetite for new experiences and powerful memories. Recognition in the form of medals, certificates, kudos or fast times are definitely not what motivate me.
I rode from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) in 1998 as a 2 week cycle tour based on staying in youth hostels (YH). I caught a train from my home in Bath to Penzance and then cycled to the start point at Lands End YH . At the finish I cycled from John O’Groats YH to Inverness and caught a flight back to Heathrow airport and then got a train from Reading to Bath. (I had the only 2 punctures of the whole trip from Bath Spa station back to my house 3 miles away!)
In 2019 I hope to avoid using a train or plane and plan to investigate taking my bike on a coach to the start point and then back from a convenient place somewhere in Scotland. Possibly Inverness ot even Glasgow. I need to research this more and plan to try a few practice trips over the winter, such as a coach to the start point of a 200km DIY somewhere.
I first heard about the alternative End to End from Dover to Cape Wrath (D2CW) about 30 years ago and wondered even then if I may one day ride it. Last weekend I was watching a YouTube video by Idai Makaya about his LEJOG & back ride and was inspired by it. It was during this video that the D2CW idea popped into my head. I did an initial Google Maps route and discovered it was just under 1400km and almost instantly thought, “Why not stretch it out and see if you can make seven days of back to back 200km DIY rides?”
The map at the top of this post is what I came up with. I know for sure it will evolve and change over the coming months but I hope to keep a few basic ideas. Firstly the 200km’s will give me the logistics challenge of planning & preparation I enjoy without the need to ride myself into the ground as a 1400km could possibly do. However, there is the matter of starting 7 seperate events which could work against me. I have never done this many back to back audax days before even though I have done the total distace of 1400km a couple of times. Different pressures and definitely a step into the unknown for me.
Next up, is accommodation. It is very unlikely that I will find Youth Hostels, Travelodges or Premier Inn’s at the stopover points along the route. Therefore I plan to investigate Airbnb for my accomodation needs. As with the coach transport experiment, I plan to do some trial trips over the winter using this type of accommodation at the end of 200km rides. To get a feel for it and discover if there are any problems with this approach.
So, that is the goal I have set myself and it is still in the very early planning stages with much still to figure out. The next post will be about how I discovered this idea when I was a student and how it occured to me about a year later that I could possibly use it as a way to prevent myself quitting or ‘packing’ when things got really tough on long distance cycling events.
The results turned out to be beyond my wildest expectations….