I found some training plans on the British Heart Foundation website the other day which I intend to follow to get myself into some kind of shape before taking part in the 52 mile ride in September.
The training is split over the week with a long ride on Sunday, a shorter ride on Tuesday, another on Thursday with hill work and another short ride on Saturday. Each week the times on the bike increase as will the number of miles I cover.
Sunday was the first day of training and started with coffee, toast & jam and after a quickly packing a bag we were out of the door and on our way to Lichfield along national cycle route number 5. It's a 23 mile route that should take around 2 hours to complete. It took us around 3 after getting lost and stopping for water (maybe I should invest in bottle cages for the bike).
Anyway, National Cycle Route 5 runs through the centre of Birmingham along the Birmingham Mainline Canal towards Smethwick before heading through Sandwell Valley up the Tame Valley and into Walsall. It's quite a
pretty route despite heading through some of the regions more industrial areas.
Walsall came and went and all was going well. I'd set up Google maps on my iPhone to call out the turnings which was a great help as the signposting for the national cycle routes isn't brilliant - it's either very small or poorly placed.
About 6 miles outside of Lichfield the battery on my iPhone died and we stupidly hadn't packed a map so we had to rely on road signs and my sense of direction which normally isn't too bad although for some reason I started to doubt myself and we got a little bit lost and had a little bit of an argument about which way we should be going.
After adding a few more miles on to our trip looking for a route into Lichfield we finally picked up the A461 which whizzed our by now rather tired legs into the city centre where we had friends waiting to meet us for lunch - a welcome distraction from tired legs and frayed tempers.
Looking back on the day we've learnt a few things, not to rely on modern technology and to take a map.We also probably over did it a bit on the first ride by cycling for over 3 hours but at least we know 25 miles is doable and not too painful - only another 27 more to add. Overall a fairly successful first ride done.