It’s inevitable on a ride of this length that at some point you will be tested. Big hills, big miles, being alone and a plethora of other things are constantly tugging at you.
Leaving Scotland was the point this ride got tough. Leaving such awe inspiring territory left me flat for a while. After that it was harder to find inspiration and then the weather turned ‘typically English’.
From there to here (Pembroke area) I’ve battled storms and headwind almost daily. The effort of that has taken it’s toll both physically and mentally. I’ve had to shorten mileages and rest more frequently, often taking days off when the weather is at it’s worst and being pinned in the tent.
Talking of tents, I’ve been really surprise at just how many problems have arisen during the ride, given the supposed high quality of the products I’ve used.
It just goes to show the stress and strain of extreme use on any piece of gear. That means I’ve had that to think about those things and sort them out, often detouring to do so, when I’d rather have been looking at the scenery, lol.
The ride down the coast of Wales has been very tough. After a day of riding into strong headwinds with lots of major climbs, I had the mother of storms and was up half the night ensuring the tent stayed in one piece and where I put it!!
These are the days that take more than you can put back after so many miles riding, so you have to make allowances for the effort you made in order to recover and carry on enjoying what you are doing.
Simple things like a meal out make a world of difference. Stopping more frequently to eat, drink and look around also help. Perhaps the thing I’ve found most helpful is to ‘not fight’, back off, and simply slow down.
It’s easy to get stuck on a daily mileage. It’s harder to say “enough is enough”, but I’ve found myself doing that quite a lot. It’s all to do with being honest and looking after yourself and I’m learning an awful lot about how to do that in less than ideal conditions.
With less than two weeks to go now you might think it would get easier? I’m not finding that, deep tiredness creeps in, mental fatigue is more noticeable each day, and I constantly chase food to keep the muscles and mind happy.
These are the realities of riding long term wherever in the world you do it. It’s a limbo state between riding and getting home, and the small things I brushed off at the start are harder to brush off now.
I’m still enjoying every days ride and there are lots of exciting things to see between here and getting home, it’s just that there’s a fatigue now from the constant effort and it won’t go away again completely until I finish.
Today’s treat was a visit from my daughter Lydia. It was really lovely to see her, chat and have lunch on the pub. I’ve also been asked to join a couple for a BBQ tonight which is really generous of them. Those moments are really uplifting and help me stay in touch with the world of others.
I’m exciting about finishing now. It will be good to get home again and touch base with friends again. I’m already plotting and scheming around another journey. Its an amazing thing to do and that’s why the last few weeks struggling are worthwhile and why I’ll keep struggling if I need to.
Today has been a lovely sunny day. The wind has got up but isn’t going to be in my face tomorrow unless I’m really unlucky and it goes Easterly overnight. Pembrokeshire is beautiful and reminds me of Devon with it’s banks and cliffs and lovely beaches.
I have plans A and B for the bank holiday weekend. Plan C involves a hedge somewhere!! After that I’ll be on the home run and hopefully a day or so’s rest before the final run in to Orchard Cafe on Sunday 3/9.
I reckon there’s a few more surprises in store yet. It ain’t over until it’s over. I’ll be the one with a pint and a fat grin.