October 11, 2015
Yesterday I planned a 60-70 mile round trip over to Wigan to see my Brother and his family. The route is fastest via motorway but obviously, being on bicycle, I would need to find alternate routes. I couldn’t foresee any problems, especially with my trusty Garmin that I blogged about last week! How wrong was I!
The ride over to Wigan presented no real issues other than traffic lights! If you thought traffic lights were annoying in a car then they’re 10 times worse on a bike, especially uphill as it’s hard to get your foot into the pedal. I cycled the 36 miles from Macclesfield to Hindley with a respectable 16.5mph average (considering I was going very steady). My chicken legs felt wonderful and it’s apparent that my weight training is paying off!
Here’s some photos of my team members (niece and nephew) Paddy the Sprinter and Lyla the domestique.
I stayed at my brother’s house for around an hour, refueled with some beans on toast and set off on an alternate route home.
noun: wild goose chase; plural noun: wild goose chases
a foolish and hopeless pursuit of something unattainable.
I should have known from the start that I can’t always trust the Garmin, as it sent me in a direction that I knew was opposite to where I should be going. However I’m not familiar with the roads around there and presumed it would take me to an alternate route in order to avoid the motorways.
After around 30 minutes of unfamiliar roads I found myself back at the start of my brother’s town. I had looped 5-10 miles around instead of just cycling 2 miles through it.
I wasn’t really fazed by this as it was lovely day and I was really enjoying my cycling. It was around 2pm and I was looking forward to the ride home and having some spare time to go food shopping before the rugby starts at 6pm.
Two hours later and I was lost. I had placed far too much faith in my Garmin. Not only did I not have a clue where I was, but it seemed my Garmin didn’t either. It was constantly trying to navigate me onto “cyclepaths” which were mainly alleyways full of litter and broken glass or canal routes littered with stones and no tarmac. I tried to navigate out of this huge industrial estate multiple times but in my confusion I kept ending up at these bloody “cyclepaths”. At one point I was riding a canal route and I was very close to falling into the water as I skidded on the pebbles. I also crossed an encolsed tram line which led to a dead-end grass area meaning I had to do a u turn, much to the enjoyment of those waiting for the tram watching a cyclist in full kit so badly lost. I looked a right plonker. I’m laughing about it now but I certainly wasn’t at the time, I was livid.
I looked down at my stats and I had done 65 miles. I was down to my last energy gel and it was getting late. The streets were now littered with rugby fans attending the rugby match I was supposed to be watching in a few hours (I actually passed the stadium which, by about 4-30pm, was absolutely packed with fans). I decided to ignore the navigation and just try to find my own way home. I knew the names of some towns but I didn’t know the roads I needed to follow. I needed to find Wythenshawe/Manchester Airport as I knew the way from there. I tried the Garmin one last time on automobile mode, but set to avoid motorways in the hope of avoiding these dreaded “cyclepaths”. You can probably guess what happened next? Directed me straight towards the motorway! Switched back to bike mode and it sends me to an underground bypass which looked like a crack den.
I was absolutely fuming, felt so helpless and was close to crying. My ass was bleeding with saddle-sores, I was hungry and thirsty and – most importantly – I was going to miss the rugby.
One hour later I had found Wythenshawe and luckily I was back on familiar roads. I was around 11 miles from home and I felt surprisingly good. I had completed 86 miles and I knew I was going to be very close to a century ( I had far surpassed the 80 mile target I set myself this month).
I have both “hit the wall” and also ended up in hospital with dehydration previously and they’re not nice feelings. I was around 8 miles from home and all of a sudden I felt dangerously low on energy levels. I started to become disorientated and, although my legs didn’t feel massively tired, I was struggling to get them moving. I’d had no food or water in over 2 hours and I knew I was in a bad place.
I had to get off the bike and sit down for a few minutes while I regained my composure. I was literally 3 flat miles from home and then I could roll the last mile downhill to my house.
The best thing about this situation was experiencing it before. I didn’t panic and I just focused on the protein milkshakes which would soon be flowing into my body. Although I don’t remember much of it, I was impressed with my determination to get home.
When I finally got into the house I immediately ate some fruit and washed it down with a few protein milkshakes (things taste so good when you’re that hungry and thirsty). I was a little bit delirious and it took around 40 mins for me to come around. It was 7pm, the match was on the halftime break and I had left the house some 9 hours and 98 miles earlier. If I hadn’t eaten a decent meal at my brothers I would have been in a serious predicament.
This ride taught me a few things
- Plan routes beforehand and download to the device to ensure there are no cyclepaths or dodgy routes
- Do not rely on Garmin 100%, have a backup plan
- Always eat before feeling hungry and ensure I have spare food
- Take money on all rides
- Get some cream to prevent sore ass
- I can do 100 miles! 🙂