I don’t even know where to begin with this day.
It was the hardest day we did on the trip, and one of the hardest physical challenges I’ve done. After having a particularly hilly day 2, and a very long and gruelling day 3 I thought I’d be ready for the final 2 days. Unfortunately the previous 3 days had taken their toll on my body, so to hear that we had a 1,000ft of climb followed very soon by a 2,000ft constant climb was not the news I had wanted to hear. I should have paid more attention to the route plans beforehand.
We set off and almost immediately were hit with our first incline. My legs were burning within minutes but I didn’t want to stop on the hills as I think it just makes it harder to get going again. Once I hit the burn I figured it couldn’t get worse and that was mostly true. You just have to zone out of the pain, and try and focus on enjoying the relieving feeling in your legs as you lift them up (I don’t have cleats so my legs are only working on the ‘down’) rather than the pain as you push down. The pain soon worked its way into my back too and I wasn’t far from breaking point!
Every time I thought we’d reached the top, a sneaky bend would appear with another flipping hill on it. It felt never-ending and I began to just enjoy the minor inclines that felt flat in comparison to the rest! When it finally did end the feeling of whizzing down the other side was pretty epic. For about 3 minutes. You spend SO long climbing it and yet it’s all over JUST LIKE THAT! Agh, and then another ruddy hill pops up again!
On the second hill I started to shake as I neared what I hoped was the top. I knew I needed to get some carbs on board soon, so when an excitable driver came past us shrieking “1 kiloooometre, 1 kilooometre!” I correctly guessed that he’d recognised our team in their matching kit and the top of the hill and that they, along with our lunch, were very close!
Turns out we weren’t actually at the top for lunch, so the climbing soon continued. When I was on bike rides or walking holidays when I was younger I used to kick up a right old fuss when I was bored of hills. Mum would always say “What goes up must come down!” – to which I’d usually reply, “but it’s NOT going down, is it? It’s still going up!” But I tell you what, this line went through my head SO many times! We were so delirious about the hills that at times we weren’t even sure if we were going up or down; I said to Greg, “my bike doesn’t feel like it wants to move, are we going up?!” and he said, “I don’t know, but mine feels the same, this is a really tough bit of flat – maybe we’re going up again?”
It took 45 miles before we saw any real signs of decline, and although they lasted a tenth of the time of the climb, they were absolutely incredible!! Winding hairpins, down, down, down. The speed we picked up was EPIC!
Throughout the whole day we only got 1 puncture between us, and again, it WASN’T ME! I was very helpful in the whole puncture process, making sure I got pictures of proof at just how good Uncle Nick was at changing them. It was only a 60-mile day, which seems easy compared to other rides I’d done on the trip, but having spent AT LEAST 70% of our time working our way up hills, it had suddenly turned from a nice little holiday into an incredible challenge.
Because of that I feel no shame in posting a link to my fundraising page – have I done enough to convince you how hard it really was?!