Planning an Adventure

Life is short. Too short. This is why I try and plan something exciting every month, usually cycling related, sometimes with the family. It gives me a week or so to bask in the memories and a week or 2 to prepare and think for the next one. Most of these are trips to ride trails that we don’t get in Warwickshire, Cannock, Shropshire or Wales. Some are trail centres, some more more natural riding.

A few years ago Mayhem became a big adventure, even more so after the first year when I realised how hard it was. A lot of mental and physical energy went into preparing and 5 or 6 years on, while it’s still a regular on the calendar, it’s not the same challenge as it was.

Buying a singlespeed has recently lent itself to another adventure opportunity. Some sort of long distance ride, simple, less to go wrong, take your time, just get there sort of thing. Bring this together with the fact I live very near the Grand Union canal and the adventure writes itself.

Ride the Singlespeed to London from home, in a day, have a beer and hop on the train home. On doing a bit of research, many people have done it but usually over a couple or 3 days, stopping overnight en-route somewhere. Most people do it on geared bikes with suspension and not rigid singlespeeds. Most people seem to over-estimate how hard it is.

But if we (the ‘we’ being Pete and I) did it in 2 days, where is the challenge ? So it has to be 1 day, on rigid singlespeeds and in time to grab a beer at the station before  train home.

On first look it seems doable.

  • At just over 100 miles it’s not that far really.
  • We can knock out 30 or more miles at a fast pace on a Sunday without feeling totally shattered.
  • It’s on the canal tow path so can’t have that much climbing
  • We should be able to ride at 10mph average as we would do 14mph or so on the fields and usual trails we ride
  • In summer it gets light at 5am and last train is 10pm is so we have 17 hrs to play with
  • We are fitter than the average rider
  • We know pain and mental strength from doing Mayhem

On second thought, and discussion with other people the picture changes slightly.

  • 100 miles on a road bike is a long way
  • Fat tyres make a lot of difference to rolling resistance
  • Tow paths are not roads
  • I’ve not ridden 100 miles in a single go, yet. Pete’s done 90 odd on the road though
  • The first 50 miles will be fine, but doing another 50 is a different matter
  • Rigid bikes are harder on the body
  • A rider who rides long distances thinks doing it in a day would be an achievement … gulp
  • He smiled and said ” that would be a challenge”

So, here we are. Mentally committed. We have decided it can’t be as hard as other people make it sound. Pick a nice day, set off early and we are committed, we have to make it. Take no spare clothes or overnight stuff and we have to get there in a day.

Next steps are to do a 50 mile ride towards London in a week or 2 to see how we get on and how we feel – out for 25 miles at the pace we want to do the whole ride in, then turn around and come home.

Updates to come later…

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