After seven weeks away sitting on a yacht the fear of what had happened to my cycling fitness was a question I was needing to answer. After 48 hours of air travel returning from Heathrow and sorting through a mountain of mail Mrs B decided the washing machine was to take centre stage so that was my cue to disappear for an hour and see if I could remember how to ride the bike.
The sight of dry Hampshire roads was the first big plus, it seemed that before leaving in February every ride since October was on wet flooded roads. The first couple of miles felt strange but very soon the legs responded and the regular 15 mile circuit was completed at a respectable 16.5 mph average, with no apparent problems. On that basis I decided that I would join the regular club 50 ml ride the following day.
Seemingly unaffected by jet lag I got the cycle kit ready for an early start but to my annoyance and subsequent relief we overslept the following morning, not waking until the 9.00am meeting time. Undeterred I decided on a solo circular route of about 45 miles to stretch the legs and set off after a late breakfast.
The ride started easily and after finding the A32 at Farringdon still closed due to flooding I took an easy pace up the Brightstone Lane climb. Through Medsted to Herriard and another closed road and after climbing to Odiham I stopped for a drink and energy bar. Having just passed half way the legs were beginning to complain big time and from this point it was a real struggle, I eventually staggered home in disbelief of my distress.
Seven weeks off the bike and jet lag had hit home, cramp and tired legs had answered the question I feared and it has taken a full two weeks to return to a regular sleep pattern and daily mile building to start the return to cycling fitness.
The plus side is that the sunny Spring weather we have enjoyed since my return has made cycle rehabilitation training a pleasure as the countryside comes to life.
Hampshire’s fields are a blaze of yellow as the Oil Seed Rape seems to be this years predominant crop, the beautiful colour and pungent smell are an advertisement to the occupants of the many bee hives that currently reside at the edge of many crop fields. The first house Martins have appeared and Red Kites and Buzzards are now a common sight. The woodland is carpeted with bluebells and magnolia, cherry blossom, tulips and wallflower decorate the country gardens.
The other noticeable difference on my return is the race to fill the potholes of Hampshire’s lanes. As well as the traditional Ford Transit, gang of men, tarmac and heavy roller I watched as one man filled potholes with a high pressure jet of tarmac and chippings and while this was infinitely quicker the finished surface without the roller to flatten was like a washboard, probably OK for car tyres but a nightmare for 700 x 25 road tyres.