You’ve prepared your route, done the training, packed your bags, and managed to get yourself to your chosen start. Now all you have to do is the ride. It is the end, or at least the beginning of the end. You have nothing to do but sit on your bike, point it up (or down) and begin pedaling. And in approximately ¼ million pedal rotations you’ll arrive at the finish.
Whilst the pedaling will be hard work at times it is a wonderful feeling to know that it is all you have to do. There is nothing else to distract you from your task and when you reach your destination at the end of each day all you can just collapse. The only multi tasking you will have to do is pedaling and drinking and/or eating. You can shut down most of your hyperactive brain functions and zone out on the pedal strokes.
My only warnings to you are:
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- Don’t overdo it early on. This counts for the tour as a whole and for each individual day. You have a long way to go and it is better to spread your energy output as evenly as possible. It is very tempting to zip away on day one when you are feeling (relatively) fresh and the adrenaline is pumping but you will pay later. Of course, by the time you get a few days in you might not feel up to overdoing it early on: from day three on it took me about 50 miles to warm up
- Watch out for day three. Apparently this is the worst day. Day one you are on a high. Day two you can feel the effects of day one but you can push through the aches and pains and the niggling tiredness. Day three everything is feeling stiff and your energy is almost as low as your morale – because you still have such a long way to go! I felt quite sick in the morning of day three and found it difficult to get food down – but you have to if not it’s a downward spiral. Your ‘day three’ might come on a different day. But you almost certainly will get one!
- Break the day up into manageable chunks. You’ll go nuts if you think about the total distance you have to cycle and start counting off the miles. Set your horizons on the next town not the B&B/campsite/hotel/gutter at the end of the day. Long distance cycling is psychological warfare and if you let your guard down when you are tired you will take a pounding.
On my trip I had a fantastic early morning session on day two. I rode past Ben Nevis and up through Glen Coe. The late morning session was tougher than I had expected and I was tired with a sore butt by lunchtime. I was feeling quite bad and then I looked at the route and realised just how far I still had to go to reach my B&B. Which was many miles past the part of the entire route that I was least looking forward to – the A82 into Glasgow. And then the devil on my shoulder pointed out that this was just day 2 and I had to do this for another 4 long grueling days (if I managed to get to the end of the day). She then reminded me that I’d feel even worse tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And the next day… I felt very low until I managed to wrestle the devil back into her box and fix my concentrate on the next manageable chunk, the next town.
- Try to keep your concentration up towards the end of each day. Especially so the further you get into the tour. It is very easy to make mistakes due to tiredness. These can be annoying if you misread your route or deadly if you misread the road. Try caffeine to boost concentration if your system can tolerate it. But beware that too much can make you sick and remember that you do need to sleep at the end of the day! If you feel your concentration is slipping it’s time to take a break and maybe have a cat nap, if you can.
- Enjoy yourself. That’s why you are doing this!