Where will that cuppa take you?
I do love a strong coffee.. Some days I just need the one to kick start the brain.. Some days I love to make a huge pot and sink into the sofa for an extended catch up with a friend..
Lately I have been filling the pot, gathering maps, seeking routes and planning adventures for the autumn. Coffee in hand, I have been finding ways to move around the country as lockdown starts to rise and my residual fitness levels increase.
For the past 2 months I have been trying to clock up at least one long ride of approximately 60km.. Compared to the Audax crew, I know this seems minor, but to me, these are huge confidence building escapades, long route training days, leading towards a bigger goal for later in the year.
In the past 10 - 12 weeks, I have gone from being content with finding a safe way to exercise outdoors, then excited to reach an 18km loop, to the current coffee filled plotting and scheming ways to reach my daughter in Wales.. The current route plan is approximately 170km over 3 days.. Seems totally do-able, if I can just find enough pit stops for coffee on route and a place to stay each night.
Sustrans are a UK based Charity who have been working towards insuring all people have access to walking and cycling routes across the UK, for health and wellbeing. They help increase access to safe routes, lobbying for active spaces and policies, as well as teaching children and adults how to ride bicycles. But they also sell maps, highlighting cycling and walking routes.. and I have been collecting them and pouring over their gloriously contoured contents.
Whilst I have been able to plot my route digitally and load the GPX files onto my Garmin Explorer, I still love a paper map.. I like to fill up my coffee cup, unfold my map and roll my fingers down the route, edging around the hills or seeing if there are areas which might be good to stop for a view. I can't do that on a screen.. It's the part of the adventure that I have missed when joining organised / supported events.
It's totally down to me to devise the trip, to look after myself and to pedal at my pace. Which doesn't have to be fast.. it just needs to suit me. Don't get me wrong, the Run for Love was a wonderful trip to be part of. My previous endeavour to ride from Munich to London was amazing, albeit ill fated, but really f**king hard. Mostly because I was trying to keep up with folks who were 10-20 years younger than me and just ridiculous mileage day to day. We flew through Europe and I can honestly say that I never want to do that again. I would love to retrace the route, but slowly, seeing the places I missed the first time around.
My rides are now completed at a pace where I can see the landscape, stop for a drink, take a break to admire a Red Kite or to say hello to a horse in a field, crack a 'Why the long face' gag to cheer myself up or just 'be'.
With the cessation of organised mass events due to COVID 19, I don't feel like I want or need to aim for any specific distances or times this year. I don't need a medal at the end of my journey and I don't have any external pressure to complete my route in any specific timescale. It feels wonderfully liberating to be able to return to the basic elements of why I like cycling. I want to be able to travel under my own pedal power, see some new places, visit friends and family and remind myself that I am capable of much more in this life.
So whilst I pray for minimal punctures / repairs on my way.. I will enjoy the scenery.. Being Mindful in my Movement.. Maybe stop for a strong coffee on route xx