Friday, 6 November 2009

Day 189 - conquering Essex and Suffolk

Type - Steady cycle

Distance - 152 kilometres

Time - 6 hours 55 minutes

Average speed - 22 km/h

Out on the bikes and into a misty, murky and rain-drenched Essex. I was going on a long bike ride with Jarlath, and we had hitched the bikes to the back of his car and sped up the M11. The motorway exacerbates bad weather, but a torrential, lashing downpour was turned horrific by speeding cars. Visability reduced to just metres as arcs of spray and water .

We eventually arrived at Stansted Mountfitchet and parket up. The rain had eased off, but it was far from welcoming us into starting our 100 mile. We decided to nip to the shop, stock up on water and supplies and see if it would stop raining. It did. We were massively lucky in not having another drop of rain the whole day.

The first few hours stayed grey and oppressive, fantastic panoramas hidden behind a drizzly curtain, but the cycling was strong, the villages pretty and the roads quiet. We have both now got some proper cycle gear - shorts, tops, water bottles and all! It does seem to make a difference and, for the most part, we motored around the countryside, tackling hills and enjoying north Essex's flater geography. The only thing that was keeping my speed checked was the wet conditions and a fear of coming off my bike again.

A puncture in Clare was the only mechnical failure of the day (in fact the only mechanical failure Jarlath and I have had for ages, continue to touch wood). We had either overestimated the amount of daylight we would have, or underestimated the length of time it would take to finish.

We shaved 10 miles off the overall distance to try and get back in daylight, but only managed to get as far as Saffron Walden before having to cycle in the dark. Half an hour on a busy road being blinded by cars blazing full beam headlights was not idea. But a strong day's exercise, and a very decent piece of cross training.

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