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366km RIDE

366km. Why?

Clearly, sitting on a bike all day doesn’t make much sense from a performance point of view. Too much fatigue that could negatively affect proper training, depletion of energy stores, impact on immune system and risk of getting sick… not many coaches out there would consider it a good idea.But I believe (I know) that personal challenge is always a good idea for a mental boost, be it a race or something equally as crazy. And in corona times, I guess the only option was crazy JA few weeks ago, my better half G. suggested celebrating the first day of summer by riding as far as there are days in the year. So without overthinking it, we prepared a bunch of energy gels and a packet of almonds and set the alarm for 4.30am.

YOU DON’T KNOW UNTIL YOU TRY

It turned into a long, hard, gorgeous day, with many lessons along the way. Some were fun, some a little more painful.

And seeing as I won’t be doing it again anytime soon, I thought I’d write a quick rundown for posterity.
Ready, steady, ride!
Take your time.

0km – Enjoy the crack of dawn

A nip in the air, empty roads, rising sun. G, myself and friend Janosch hit Go on the Garmin and we’re off.

70km – Never doubt, it’s a long way

The first couple of hours are a bit of a blur. The boys are pushing on the front and I get dropped on every rise. My excuse is I’ve had a big training week, but I’m kinda worried all the same. Will I even make it to 100, let alone 360?

100km – Company is important

Two more friends join us, massive mental boost. Pace slows a little, atmosphere changes, conversation picks up and the crick in my neck disappears. Maybe this will be a good day after all!

140km – Stopping is important

1st coffee: clearly no in-house barista, but it’ll do. That first shot of caffeine and the biscuit that came with it do wonders. I get back on the bike a new woman.

180km – what 180km?!

The usual IM distance and on any normal day, a bloody long way. You pack all the food, start counting down the miles after 4h, get a really sore backside and spend the rest of the day lifeless on the sofa. And yet today it is effortless. Time flies by and it’s probably the first time I’ve had such obvious proof that many limits are simply in our own heads. By planning 360+, I tricked my brain into thinking that 180 was really not such a big deal. So it wasn’t. Literally, mind-blowing stuff.

181km – Three’s a crowd

We’re back down to the original three but that’s OK, we’re steaming along, teamwork going strong. All hyped up after a productive morning and smiling from ear to ear.

235km – Breaks are necessary

I don’t really want to stop again but it really is important, for refuelling as much as for my backside. The 2nd coffee is no better than the first, and twice the price. Probably should have had plate of chips instead.

280km – You can go further than you think

The last 100km have definitely felt like they took forever. But our average speed has increased, we’re still flying. Janosch turns towards home and a well-deserved barbecue, leaving the two of us to finish the day solo. I’ve never ridden over 220k in my life and I’m in unknown territory, but the legs are still going.

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PAIN IS TEMPORARY, ACHIEVEMENT LASTS FOREVER

305km – Beware of the wall

Why does the white line look all wavy all of a sudden?

310km – it appears quicker than you think

Please tell me that’s not another hill.

I think I need to vomit.

312km – and even if you think you’ve got it

Just give me 5’ on the roadside, I’ll be fine.

I’m gonna vomit, but I’ll be fine.

320km – really you’re not in control at all

Nope….  Nope.

Need to stop, now.

And just like that, after 10h on the road and in the space of 20 short kilometres, I go from crushing the pedals to a shaky, teary mess sprawled on a random pavement in a random village… opposite an ancient petrol station with an even older Selecta machine that only takes coins. I’m beyond cursing the credit card in my back pocket.

320km’ – but the body is a wonderful thing

Oh how I’d love a salty handful of crisps or peanuts right then… but in fact I don’t think I even bonked. My brain just shut down… took the time out it needed and, incredibly, just bounced back.

After 10 minutes emerging from the deep dark abyss, and another 10 checking the map to see which hill we can cut out to make it back asap but still make the distance, we just get back on our bikes and keep going.

365km – Do your math first

There are 366 days in 2020. Not 365. At 7pm, a stone’s throw from the front door and the fridge, my other half announces that we have to ride a loop around the block to make the numbers.

I no longer know if I want to be with him.

 

MADE IT

 

We had promised ourselves ice cream when we got back. In the end we never got past the pot of peanut butter.

It was back to regular training the next day and I definitely won’t be repeating the experience every week, but it was cool.

Who’s in for next year :-)??

xx

EMMA
emmabilham.

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