Without a doubt, a day of two distinct halves. It started badly, on reflection, as I had a poor nights sleep in the Travelodge. This was in part due to a strange low frequency noise similar to the sound made by a Harley Davidson idling at a stop sign. Without getting too techy, an audible standing wave pattern had been created in our little room such that there were certain points where the noise could not be heard at all, and other points where it was loud and annoying. In order to have any chance of sleep I decided to pull the bed away from the wall and position it so that the pillows were at the quiet points (to Mrs W’s bemusement!). The hotel didn’t have breakfast and there was nowhere nearby that seemed to offer anything breakfasty so I opted for some flapjack and a cereal bar – I would soon regret not fuelling up to the usual levels.
The first 40 minutes of cycling took me through Glasgow and the surrounding suburbs. Rush hour always brings out the worse in drivers and I was very grateful for the fluorescent jacket. Again, the iPhone navigation was superb and faithfully took me out of the city. I had checked the weather reports earlier to decide what to wear, and the BBC were hedging their bets with a symbol that combined rain, cloud and sun. I went for the sun/cloud option, ignoring the rain part, and as a result was wearing short leggings and only one top (plus the usual montaine jacket just in case). As I was climbing out of Glasgow the dark clouds turned darker and the rain started. I passed the headquarters of ‘Tarmac’ whilst dodging the potholes, the irony of which made me chuckle. The chuckles were soon gone, however, as I got wetter and wetter and all the climbing was beginning to use up my low energy supplies, not to mention a headwind was stirring.
My choice of route for the morning was very poor. The road turned out to be a real rollercoaster –up then down then up then down then up then down and all on extremely poor surfaces. In fact the little hillocks reminded me of a Postman Pat landscape and he always had issues going over those hills so I guess I didn’t have a chance. The rain stopped for a while, and unfortunately I had to stop and make some phone calls about a shipment, then wait around for UPS to get back to me. The damage had been done, the next 25 miles just became worse and worse, with the up and downs sapping my energy and the headwind adding to the misery. Certainly this was the worse half day I had had since that first Sunday afternoon. Even a handful of fastics didn’t help. I eventually rolled in to Dalmellington feeling like I wanted to collapse and quickly scoffed my way through various lunchtime delights Mrs W had obtained.
Again it was difficult to summon the energy to even consider getting back on the bike, but I had a hunch this half would be much easier, so I put the gear back on and set off once more.
Wow. What a different journey this was! Long well surfaced roads, with a slightly downward gradient and a slight tailwind. Perfect. That coupled with the massive intake of sugar loaded delicacies meant one thing and one thing only. I realise, it may sound crazy, but honestly when the conditions permit there is nothing you can do but make the most of them. RACEPACE. I have no idea how I could have switched from the slowest most arduous and depressing 50 miles of the challenge so far to head down, highest gear racing for the next 35 or so miles, but I give up trying to fathom the wonders of the human body. The progress was rapid to say the least, and it felt like one long high on that superb road to Castle Douglas towards our stay for the night. Even the lego man had a go at the downhills, and it looks like he enjoyed it too:
I arrived at our stopover in no time and Tasha wasn’t even there yet, so I kept on going, making the most of this new lease of life in my legs. After a couple of miles past the B&B I got a text saying she had arrived, so I turned back. Worried about the state of my legs (especially after the last racepace experience) I decided to follow Taskers advice: the ICE bath. I hadn’t tried this yet and even thought that perhaps it was just Ian’s way of having a practical joke, but according to the internet (that wealth of accurate knowledge), top athletes often take ice baths after heavy training so the toxins in their legs are forced back into the body (as the arteries and veins contract). With no ice to hand I had to make do with ice cold water, straight from the cold Scottish tap. I almost had a heart attack as I got in the freezing water – this is definitely not normal – but then Tasker is usually right so I stuck with it. After a few minutes it didn’t seem so bad so I stayed in there for a while, then got out for a hot shower. Well, the legs seemed better already, although I suspect that had more to do with the general numbness, nothing short of an anaesthetic effect I guess, preventing me from registering the normal pain. We shall see, tomorrow, whether this was a useful endeavour!
Later we headed to the town center and found a great little hotel restaurant where I consumed a perfect burger and chips. Distance today: 85 miles, total so far 443 miles. Here is the route and photos: