The long road back.

And no, I am not referring to Peter Andre’s – no doubt brilliant – fourth album (which implies there are three preceding it, what a dreadful thought) or, come to think of it, the Bryan Adams song! I am referring to the road back to fitness.

I complacently thought I was a lot fitter than I am. Thankfully, the ride to Box Hill with Chris has alerted me to the fact that this is not the case while I still have some time to do something about it before the Marrakech-Atlas Etape. By ‘alerted’ I really mean I crashed and burned and had to bail.

The day started badly with a(nother) puncture, meaning I ditched the Pacific Reach and pedaled off on the Kona Sutra – like a Bentley, a beautiful lorry which weighs around a tonne. Brixton Hill hurt and things were aching badly by the time I had reached Streatham to meet my riding partner. Rose Hill almost had me turning round and I was shafted on arrival at the peak of the North Downs. Actually the down bit was okay, things started to go wrong heading back up the zig zag, where muscles that used to work decided to be cold, cramped balls of agony. A second ascent finished me off and, rather than the well intended loop to cycle off the pain, I pulled off the road into what was, conveniently, a pub with a roaring fire, decent beer and the ‘retro’ food that indicates you are outside of London…

…Some medicinal amber liquid and solids later made the thought of the two hour ride to collect the children acceptable. In reality it hurt like buggery – although that could just be that I am not used to riding on the Brooks saddle the Kona sports.

Ice, snow, pub and pain aside we covered about 55 miles and climbed about 2,700′ – not bad considering I was only teaching myself to walk again last September / October.

I also know that I need to stop snacking, drinking, partying and take this a little more seriously – and that is only to keep up with Chris! To tackle the Ouka as well is going to take some considerable exercise compared to this year-to-date where I have only cycled 278 miles and climbed 5,709′.

Still, relish a challenge…