I'd slept well at Edinburgh. I'd had a great shower, got dry clean clothes (another drop bag was here) and managed to get a good 4 hour sleep. It was fairly quiet still at the control, with many riders probably stopping a control or two earlier. A bit of breakfast, some slightly moist clothes and I was ready to head off into what looked like a mixed day.
3 years after I rode my first ever Audax (a 150km out of Bushey) and started to hear about the really long stuff, here it was, the one I had planned to ride from the very start. When I first started, I was struggling to get around a 200, I had discounted the idea of riding PBP as I couldn't even conceive of riding a 300 at that point. The fact that I'd be 40 in 2013 meant that LEL appealed and I had decided to ride it before I even decided to ride PBP in 2011!
The year has been going pretty well for me so far. Anyone who's been following the blog (well done for enduring my drivel!) will have seen I have ridden a 300 in February and a 400 in March. My first 600 I had on the books was due to be the BCM in mid-May. But for various reasons, I had an idea to ride a 600 in April - my girlfriend being happy for me to be out of the house so she can get on with writing papers for her Masters, the Strava spring classics challenge (ride 13 hundred and something km in April). After a bit of thinking, I decided to ride the Green and Yellow Fields 300km event from Manningtree near Colchester and ECE it to 600km.
So, the next couple of weekends, I won't be able to ride much (next weekend, a 40th birthday party for yours truly and the weekend after, I am away for my actual birthday) - so I was keen to get some miles in. I have had a desire to do a ride up to somewhere on the LEL route and then ride home. I decided on Kirton to give a roundtrip of around 400 km (my actual controls were 424 shortest distance).
This year looks to be an interesting year - I'm pretty fired up for it already. It started a bit limply, but I feel I am getting into my stride, and my 300km DIY last weekend has given me a renewed confidence for the season ahead. One big issue for long-distance cycling is balancing time between cycling and home. It is clearly a pursuit that takes a lot of time. It's not like, let's say running, where an hour or two is a very good long run. You need entire days for a good long bike ride. This can, and has, caused friction in my life for sure.
My riding hasn't gone as well as I planned this year so far, primarily down to illness and snow, meaning that I had only ridden 2 audax rides this year so far. However, I have been regularly heading to Richmond Park (about 15 minutes from my door) and attempting to ride faster, hard laps. 3 laps is almost exactly 20 miles - so if you can ride 3 laps in a hour (and it's not flat), then you're doing pretty well (some of the very fast guys on super-aero TT bikes will get times down to around 48 mins). I'm not the fastest rider in the world, and have managed 20 minute laps a few times in the past - but never strung 3 laps of 20 minutes together.