The Day After

Summary

Having now completed the ride and with a little time to reflect, I’m really glad I chose to do this ride and would recommend it to anyone with a decent fitness level a sense of adventure and some minor bike repair skills, I’m no mechanic but I can bodge and repair a puncture.
Before the trip when explaining to people what I was planning, I got the impression a lot of them were surprised that I was doing this ride on my own. From quite a young age I have never been bothered about doing things on my own. I took up fishing as a child and although I do fish with friends in the most part it tends to be a solo activity. Spending vast amounts of time in search of Carp by a lake on your own. You are either comfortable with your own company or you’re not (those that aren’t and fish tend to be loud, quite annoying, catch less than average and in my experience tend to be mainly brash builders or double glazing installers n.b. I presume they are not all like that, perhaps I’ve just been unlucky to fish lakes where they are), luckily for me I ‘m one of those people that spending time on my own doesn’t worry me. After all, my ride was only to Paris and back, there are lots of people who do a lot more.

Not only for this trip but in general seeing things from a bike is much better than by car, as you are travelling slower you see and notice a lot more. Even in Paris going down the Champs-Elysées you can come to a halt and pull over immediately, in a car this would be impossible.
if you spot something, you simply pull over or stop and look. If you’re in a car you couldn’t pull over easily. You’d then have the hassle of finding somewhere to park probably paying to do so.

The route:
Day 1 – Devizes to Portsmouth = 72.53 Miles
Portsmouth to Caen (on the overnight Ferry, bike doesn’t float that well)
Day 2 – Caen (Ouistreham) to Oissel, nr Rouen = 77.32 Miles
Day 3 – Oissel to Paris = 77.5 Miles
Day 4 – Sightseeing
Day 5 – Sightseeing
Day 6 – Paris to Évreux, via Versailles = 77.7 Miles
Day 7 – Évreux to Caen (Ouistreham) = 79.13 Miles
Caen to Portsmouth (on the overnight Ferry)
Day 8 – Portsmouth to Devizes = 68.71 Miles

A few Stats (according to iPhone app Cyclemeter by Abvio and a HRM):

Mileage Cycled to Paris & Back = 452.89 Miles
Sightseeing Mileage = 73.0 Miles
Grand Total Mileage = 525.89 Miles
Total Calories Burnt off excluding Sightseeing (I didn’t wear a Heart Rate Monitor whilst in tourist mode) = 19,098 which is equivalent to 144x25g bags of Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps!
Average Speed = Slow! 13.4 mph
Luggage Weight 32.5lb, to put that in context, I have lost over 49lb since I started Cycling in April 2011, so my worries about overloading the bike weren’t founded.

Problems:
Nothing major, after arriving in Paris I did have pins & needles continuously in my left hand which I quickly researched on the internet and self-diagnosis was Hand Palsy.
Apparently it’s quite common in cyclists due to continued pressure on one of the nerves in the hand and it tends to be worse for those using straight handle bars, which I was. Other symptoms are reduced grip, which I have in my right hand. Effects can take up to a month to disappear!
The problem I had with the front mech was described in the earlier post, but other than these two minor problems, everything went smoothly, not even one puncture despite Paris being littered with broken glass everywhere. Mainly broken wine and beer bottles, especially by the river Seine.

After the ride

Before I went on the trip, I was asked by a friend if I wanted to do a Sportive on the day after I returned. Initially I declined, but during the ride back I still felt good (other than a tingly hand) and emailed him to say I was now interested. So today we went for what was supposed to be a leisurely ride with no panniers/luggage on the Severn Bridge Sportive Severn Bridge Sportive .
Last night I downloaded the GPX file for my phone; this confirmed the ride was actually 60.45 Miles, not 56. So after registration this morning, three of us set off to the Severn Bridge. All went well. One of the three Uriel (Chippenham’s own Contador, with a permanent smile) was happy to stay at a slower pace on his own, leaving me and my mate Andy to carry on at a relatively quick pace, so much for a slow ride. We got to the feed station in good time, refuelled on Flapjack, Coffee and anything else on offer and set off back.
The course was marked clearly with big white arrows on a Red Background and before the start one of the organisers, Andy Cook specifically mentioned that the shorter route split at a gap in the hedge not long after the feed station. Andy and I heard him, but somehow missed the gap! After about 6.5 miles we hadn’t got to the Severn bridge again and appeared to be heading deeper into Wales.
I checked the map on the phone and Andy asked a guy following behind us, “which route are you doing fella?” he replied “the long one”, Merde! (I learnt that one over in France!).
By the time we got back to where we should have turned we had added on an additional 13 odd miles! I don’t think either of us was overly pleased at tracking back up the hills we had just come down. To top it off, on the way to getting back on course, we went round a large roundabout, Andy in front. A car waiting to come on the roundabout let Andy past and started to pull out in front of me. I took evasive action, loudly gesticulated with the driver after the sudden rush of adrenaline to get out the way. Andy thought I was shouting at him, looked round and clipped the kerb and landed on the pavement heavily, although he did finish with a spectacular roll. With over 30 miles left to go, not the best place to be coming off.
Once we’d got the chain back on the bike and set off again, I did say to Andy, after leaving Uriel to go at a slower pace, that “wouldn’t it be funny if he got back before us”. The reply was quite short and very much in the negative.
We made it back after spending just over 4 hours in the saddle, our pre-feed station average speed being 19.94 mph, by the end we’d dropped to 17.86mph, Uriel came in about 5 minutes after us…
What was supposed to be a 56 mile ride ended up being just a little bit fewer than 74 miles.

Route: Severn Sportive 2012 – Short
Google Maps URL: Today’s 56/73.7 Mile Sportive
Started: 26 Aug 2012 08:07:23
Ride Time: 4:07:41
Stopped Time: 34:44
Distance: 73.72 miles
Average Speed: 17.86 mph
Fastest Speed: 42.71 mph
Ascent: 2118 feet
Descent: 2102 feet
Calories: 2459
Average Heart Rate: 130 bpm
Maximum Heart Rate: 184 bpm

I’m going to have a complete rest day from the bike tomorrow!

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