A bit of a lengthy post combining my recaps from the #Festive500 rides 28th - 30th December.
The 28th saw a horrendous headwind make this ride a pain to finish. I can deal with wind for a bit but when it follows you no matter which direction it soon grates me down. I had hoped getting up early would mean I avoided the worst of the weather. Whilst it remained relatively dry the wind soon took it's toll on the 5th day of riding and so I made the decision to retire my ride early. 20 miles added to the Festive500 bank but I was worried the goal of completing the challenge would be slipping further away...
There were a lot of times during this ride I thought about turning home early. My legs were hurting, standing to climb was a challenge. But I couldn't get the idea of reaching Dartmeet out of my head and finally getting to the peak.
I made my way through Princetown, Two Bridges and carried on across the moors, Dartmeet in sight. A couple of climbs and descents later I neared the 12% downhill before it. I zoomed down the hill and reached the cattle grid at the base of Dartmeet. This is the one of the nastiest features of this climb. You pretty much have to come to a stop and slowly make your way over the grid, only to be greeted by an incline that instantly kicks up. I began the climb, legs already no cooperating. I paused where I had the first time I attempted it, contemplating turning back early. I thought about the Festive 500 challenge and how it was all about challenging ourselves. I decided to push on and finally tackle the rest of the climb. It hurt and I had to stop another time before reaching the top, but when I finally got there it was definitely worth it. Number 8 on the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs = done. Now I just need to return on a warm summers day and try to beat my time...
With Dartmeet finally conquered I start making the jouney home, passing a few groups of cyclists in the opposite direction. Home to cup of tea and a hot bath which relaxed my aching legs.
With reports of 50mph winds and torrential rain, I had essentially written off today as a cycling day. I rechecked the weather and the worst of the winds seem to be dissapeearing around 11am. I went out with the aim of 20 miles if the weather was okay. When I reached my potentail turnaround point, I decided to carry on. The rain was relentless, apart from a brief 5 minute period where it eased off. The wind on the other hand had relaxed a lot. With just the rain to cycle against, it actually turned out to be one of the best rides I've had so far in the 500k challenge. 40 miles cycled meant I edged closer to hopefully completing the last miles of this #Festive500.
Lesson learnt from today? Give it a go, you can always turn back.
Now just the final push tomorrow to try and reach that magic 500k marker...
I'm taking part in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. Cycling 500k in 8 days from the 24th-31st December. I'll be tweeting,instragmming and blogging my journey as part of documenting my progress.