The last 10%

Over the last two weeks I feel like I have been slowly digging myself into a deep hole with the bike. I embarked on a mission to climb an insane amount of metres which I am now too close to completing to quit. I have only had 3 rest days this month and have cycled for 54 hours according to the graphic below, with an anticipated 12 more hours to complete the climbing challenge. The majority of this riding has been incorporated into my commutes to and from work, where I have created a routine of climbing every hill between work and home, often repeatedly. The monotony of it all is starting to wear me down.

In general I find that the last 10% of any endurance activity or event is always the point where I have to fight thoughts of giving up. Recently I have noticed that every cycling Sportive I’ve entered seems to be 5 miles too long, no matter whether it’s 60, 75 or 100 miles. And so, I am now at a point where I have had enough of this challenge. The last 10%

In addition, the weather has not been conducive to a cycling challenge. It has rained. A lot. Every day. I am getting used to struggling up hills, soaked from the outside by rain, and from the inside by sweat with glasses steaming up and trying to ignore the grinding noises my poor bike has begun to regularly emit. I have taken bits apart and greased them. I have lubed as if lubing is going out of fashion but still the bike keeps making cringeworthy noises. I am beginning to think that my budget bike with its cheap components may not last much longer. But if it gets me over the finishing line of this challenge then it may have earned a good rest. I’m certainly looking forward to one.

Hills from hell

Last year I struggled to climb hills. So this winter I have been searching for hills to improve my ability. Yesterday I found a series of hills straight from the depths of hell. Mostly ranging from 13 – 18% they took some effort to climb but were nothing compared to the worst of the lot. It was pure evil. A 19% start turned into 22% midway through a bend and lasted for what seemed like an eternity – with my speed dropping to a lowly 4 mph it really did take an eternity to climb.

A series of short but severe hills around 30 miles even look like flames

I’ve been reading a few articles about hill climbing technique but am generally finding that just going out and taking on hills seems to be the best advice. Yesterday I rode one section which included a long drag that I have previously found very challenging, but actually found quite easy this time – to the extent that I began to wonder if I’d taken a wrong turning and missed the hill. However I don’t think any amount of training will ever make a 22% hill seem easy.

Looking for salvation from the hills at the St Thomas A Beckett Church in Pensford

I’ve entered a couple of Sportives for 2012. One is the 100 mile Dartmoor Classic on  24 June and the other is the Tour of Wessex, a 329 mile 3 day event at the start of June. I will be doing both events with friends who are experienced cyclists so I have a lot of training ahead of me to be ready. I think a training programme might be a good idea to prevent my usual tactic of training as often and as hard as possible and probably resulting in frustrating injuries.

The roads were muddy but thankfully dry