Beside the A10, I sat down and wept
I tucked my bike behind a bush, sat down beside it and howled. I was on a filthy, noisy roundabout that led onto the A10, a dual carriageway nightmare that I'd taken a peek at and decided I really didn't fancy.
The sun was beating down, it was the hottest day of the year, and I had been riding solo for three hours. My phone battery was almost dead so I'd lost contact with my bike navigation app, and I had no idea of an alternative route other than the A10. I felt wretched.
Stressed out and close to tears, I rang my husband and he helpfully - and sympathetically - suggested I return to the last town I'd passed through and got the train to Cambridge; we were spending the weekend with friends who live just outside the city and he was travelling there with the kids by car while I clocked up another long-distance bike ride.
Cycling there seemed like a good idea at the time - there are just three weeks until the RideLondon-Surrey 100 event on August 4, 2013, and I wanted to fit in another two big rides before I start tapering to save my legs for the big day.
It entailed cycling not only all the way across London from Wimbledon where we live, but also finding my way out the other side of the city, up through Hertfordshire and into Cambridgeshire. I know how to drive it, no problem, but navigating it on a bike proved almost impossible.
The Bike Hub app seemed like a good idea, but it led me through London by the most complicated, convoluted route that took me an hour - and many wrong turns - to get to the river, by which time I'd already used up 50% of my battery power. It used so much energy pointlessly 'recalculating' my route every time I took a wrong turn that I knew I'd soon be left with a blank screen and no idea which way to go.
By the time I got to the A10 roundabout, I had been riding without navigation for about 40 minutes, so my options really were limited. Thank goodness for my Mophie juice pack Air, which meant I could recharge my phone battery for emergency phone calls (like the one to my husband) - although it no longer fitted in the Runtastic phone holder on my handlebar.
Having to stop and get my phone out every couple of minutes was really not an option, so I did need to choose the simplest route. Which happened to be: head up the A10 and turn right.
Back to the scene of my despair. So there I sat, weeping noisily behind a bush (concealed so I didn't cause alarm to passing motorists) from stress, misery and disappointment at my imminent failure. Time to make a decision. I could either head back to the station as my husband had suggested, or man up and head down the sliproad.
I downed a quick caffeinated USN Vooma Gel (mocha flavour: yum), picked myself up and got back on my bike. I am no quitter, I needed the miles on my legs and as I told myself 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.
Cycling up the A10 was the closest to hell I have ever ridden. And I'm lucky it didn't kill me. It was hot and hilly, lorries and speeding cars shot past me at 70mph+ and I was picking my way along the oh-so-narrow hard shoulder dodging roadkill, rocks, stray hub caps and bits of burnt-out tyres.
Now I look at the map, I can clearly see the road I should have been on: the single-carriageway A1170 that follows the route of the A10 (but cuts out the bends and is therefore shorter as well as slower). Note to self: study the route in advance and don't rely on technology.
Some 20 miles later, I finally reached my turn-off and was cycling the country lanes of Hertfordshire. I had survived, and now simply had to keep pedalling. It seemed to take forever to get to the A505 - but a brief stop-off at a pub to top up my water bottle, and a couple of pauses to check my route and text my husband to reassure him I was still OK - and I eventually reached it, crossed it, and knew I was nearly there.
The lanes of Cambridgeshire are quite different from those of Surrey where I do most of my cycling: less shaded, and fewer turn-offs, which is quite boring and bad for motivation. I was telling myself, just one more turning then another gel/glug of water/stop to check the map etc, but the turnings never came. Boo.
The two most welcome signs on my route: the 'Welcome to Cambridgeshire' county sign, and the 'Thriplow, 1 mile' sign. Our friends live in Thriplow. Much as I love visiting them, I can assert without doubt, that I am never going to cycle there from Wimbledon ever again.
I'm training for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey100 cycle event
Read my previous blog entry: Cycling London to Brighton
Posted: 24/07/2013 at 11:48
Posted: 05/08/2013 at 22:52
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