July 12, 2016
Last Sunday I had my hardest ever day on the bike. The mileage (130 miles) and elevation (6800ft) are both things that I have done before, but not with a headwind.I have obviously encountered wind before but never a constant headwind for 100+ miles.
My mileage is creeping up now and, having already completed 230 midweek training miles, I set out early Saturday on a two-day 260 mile return trip to/from Scarborough. The first day was pretty uneventful, I managed the ride with a decent speed and time, but I couldn’t help notice my tailwind was picking up a little towards the end. I checked the weather forecast before bed and you couldn’t have placed the wind direction any worse for the next day. It was pointing in the exact direction I was cycling towards and I knew I was in for a rough ride.
“At the worst point it took me 1h 20 mins to complete a 9 mile climb”
There are a few climbs out of Scarborough, then it’s mostly flat past York and Leeds before roughly 20 miles of hills start at Wakefield and end after Huddersfield. These climbs weren’t particularly difficult, but the wind is so much worse when you’re higher and more exposed. Strava tells me that at the worst point it took me 1h 20 mins to complete a 9 mile climb.
The wind is not only tough uphill but the descents can be really problematic too. At the highest point I was having to actually pedal downhill, as the wind was pushing me backwards. Also, when I do actually pick some speed up, I have to be careful of side winds. They can easily blow you off the road or even worse into the path of traffic overtaking you. When it’s particularly difficult I position myself in the center of the road (only my side of the road of course) so that I have an allowance either side. Drivers are usually pissed off behind but I would rather do this than risk an accident.
I have to admit I was in a bad way at some points. I knew I had it in me to complete the ride, but it wasn’t pretty and I knew I would be hurting after! I had to stop far more times that I normally would to get food and I was desperate for sugar boosters towards the end. Mentally it took me to a place I have never been before and I’m glad for that as I can deal with it better next time, character building at its finest!
I’m currently riding longer distances/higher average elevations than I will encounter in America so on paper this ride should be tougher than most. However I’m not factoring the heat and multiple days, but then again I can counter that with support vehicle and team. I’m getting stronger but I am praying for the winds to be kind to me in America!