A structured training plan (in theory at least) is much like the instructions on shampoo but rather than lather/rinse/repeat it is work hard/recover/repeat. Eventually, and to continue the tortuous hair-washing analogy this cycle gives way to conditioning (at least that is what Tessa tells me) – the chance to relax and enjoy the moment, which in training terms is called “tapering”. This is the really good part – after all the hard work is done tapering is about eating well, resting well and drinking well (preferably water rather than alcohol!). But before we could begin enjoying the quiet and relaxed days before the event we had one last test – a three day weekend of cycling. We were not trying to simulate L2P exactly but we wanted to get a reasonable sense of what we might experience by completing three fairly tough days back-to-back.
With Friday booked off work and a few chores done we set off on our heavy tandem to tackle about 60 miles. The lightweight one was in the shop having a new cassette and chain fitted. The weather was good – a bit cool and overcast but dry and not too breezy – but the ride was miserable. Neither of us could really get into it, and I was very uncomfortable on the saddle and could not work out why. It did not bode well for the rest of the weekend, and even less for L2P! We called it a day at around 53 miles thankful for the excuse of needing to pick up the other tandem as a reason to cut short the day.
Saturday, on the lightweight bike - new chain and cassette, we were looking forward to it. Another 60 miles was planned but it was almost derailed right from the start. A text around 9:00am advised us that our daughter’s rounders tournament (which would have finished late afternoon thereby providing all-day childcare) was cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. A frantic phone call to Grandma sorted that out and we were once again free to spend the day cycling. We joined the social ride from the club with the intention of adding some mileage at the end. At around 15 miles we arrived at the scheduled café stop only to find that it was closed due to preparations for a wedding reception – that was definitely unexpected. As we prepared to leave a nasty grating sound emanated from somewhere along the drivetrain of our bike. No obvious problems, and in any case it was only serviced yesterday. We managed to get going but continued to suffer from “transmission” problems particularly when we put a lot of pressure through the pedals. No choice really – head back to the club house by the shortest route possible. A miserable 25 miles, well short of our target, and a broken bike to boot! Into the shop it went for a new chainring so hopefully we will have it all fixed up ready for next weekend.
Sunday – beautiful sunny day, and 80 miles on the cards, with our major concern how we would cope riding that distance on our heavy bike. Well, to cut a long story short, we managed it despite some wickedly steep hills. We have definitely come to the conclusion that we much prefer the long drag rather than the short and ridiculously steep when it comes to hill-climbs. And in terms of the weekend as a whole, definitely not ideal but it has given us enough of a confidence boost to start looking forward to L2P proper (assuming the lightweight tandem is fixed).
As for our fundraising, there is no chance of tapering. We will be pushing hard all the way to Paris to make sure that we hit our target, and if you have been thinking about supporting us, now is the time to make it happen – here https://leukaemialymphomaresearch.org.uk/people/jonathan-cox/jonathan-tessa-cox-london-paris. Thanks very much.