exo : rides


Mon, 01 Jan 2018


Fifty fairly hungover kilometres is not the most promising start.

All the tips on successfully managing the festive 500 emphasise getting the miles (I know) in early. A 3am bedtime fuelled by too much wine says otherwise and it’s slightly surprising to get any cycling in. I will be glad of this later.

The fully committed ride on Christmas Day but not only does that seem somewhat against the spirit of the day, the rain sheets down all day. I don’t even leave the house.

Boxing Day is glorious and the real start to my Festive 500 and as befits any ride in Fife it starts into a headwind. And it carries on into the headwind as the plan is 30 miles mostly in one direction and then back the same way. Blue skies and sunshine make it reasonably pleasant.

What is not pleasant is the continuing faff to get through Dundee as they finish the V&A and do something to the riverside path. Today turns out to be the first of three encounters with this faff and each time I try a different approach, all of which are unsatisfactory.

The twenty seventh is also glorious but reserved for walking with cycling friends. I note the irony and move on.

After a couple of days of flat rides it’s time for an attempt on my standard 60ish mile loop. Once again I am hampered by the effects of a late and boozy night so it’s hard work. The cold isn’t helping but the sunshine is. It is not the quickest attempt but it ticks another hundred or so kilometres off the total. At least there’s plenty of good views, not too much ice and I’m pretty much at the half way point.

6 days in and I wake to the inevitable turn in the weather. What follows is four hours in the rain and cold with a homeward headwind. I am not filled with joy. I am also beginning to think of the lie ins and lazy mornings I am missing. Yet another hundred odd kilometres chalked off is beginning to make this look reasonably doable. It’s also past the point where bailing out would be more foolish than carrying on which is good as conditions for the next few days are not looking better.

Studying the weather over breakfast on the thirtieth makes it clear that I should clear as much of the remaining distance as I can face today as Sunday’s forecast looks interesting. A bit of thinking and 120 or so kilometres looks doable without much in the way of hills. This is both for reasons of effort and avoidance of snow. I am not remotely interested in picking my way down slushy descents.

The route thinking turns out not to have been quite hard enough as there’s a chunk of stopping to consult maps on the phone and some doubling back when roads turn out not to be. However, it’s extra miles and there’s some new roads plus a few ideas for future rides.

Five ish hours and 120 or so kilometres leaves me with 22 remaining which seems manageable regardless of weather.

Sunday morning and I am not so sure. It is more than a bit breezy. Despite this I know going out means I can tick the stupid ‘Festive 500 done’ box and never feel the need to tick it again. This is motivational.

Four miles later I am hiding behind a hedge fixing a puncture. #unimpressed.

Back up and running and the ‘just enough to get it done versus get to Tenstsmuir’ debate inevitably comes down on the Tenstsmuir side. This is encouraged by the jam today of the tailwind there. The headwind for the return leg is very much jam free. 20 minutes of hunched over lowest gear slogging in the rain follows.

I stop and take a photo at what I estimate is the 500 kilometre point. It is as prosaic a spot as you could hope for huddled next to the Wurst selling roadside shack. The shack is closed.

Posterity served it’s a bit more slogging to the turn to home and a cross tailwind fierce enough I have to brake while freewheeling to keep upright. It’s certainly invigorating, possibly a little too much so. It does all make for a fairly easy run back to town and celebratory hot chocolate. It’s hard to tell if the slight post ride giddyness is the effect of a couple of hours in the wind or relief that it’s all done.

After a bit of food and the hot chocolate I register for the woven finishers badge and put in an order for the Festive 500 musette that I promised myself as a reward, because you can’t buy that sort of thing unless you’ve done the ride.

I’m pretty sure that all this falls into the good to have done but not to repeat category. The riding itself was fine, because almost all bike rides are good, it’s the time taken away from the relaxing that’s the problem. Knowing that you have to get up and get out there rather than indulging in the small pleasure of an extra half hour under a warm duvet is wearing. Left to my own devices I’d have done fewer rides but they might have been a bit more adventurous, safe in the knowledge I didn’t have a target to meet.

It’s a nice flourish to the end of the year, but also reinforcement for making next year less about numbers and more about riding.

posted at: 16:01 #

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