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Friday, August 5, 2011

Why attempt a long ride?

This blog has its origins in a conversation that I overheard while commissairing closed circuit races. It centred around completing the Lands End to John O'Groats ride and the way people perceive the challenge of that ride. A web search reveals a range of different options from fully supported group rides to individual rides.

The journey is approximately a 1000 miles and can be completed in nine days but some riders want to take an easier pace. The question raised by the discussion was what makes the ride a challenge? One voice clearly believed that if it didn't push the rider to do at least a 100 miles (160 km) a day then it really wasn't a challenge for a cyclist. But is that a fair assessment?

My daily commute used to be 50km a day. To turn it into training, I often pushed it over 100km. That is nothing compared with professional cyclists. For the last two years, my commute was only about 15km per day. It has now gone back up to 25km per day.

If you have read this blog, you will see that my exploration of the National Cycle network has involved rides of over 100km but the distance hasn't been the issue. If I was interested in the fastest time between two points then I wouldn't follow the National Cycle network. Instead, I wouldn't be looking for the fastest safe route that took in roads that were easy to maintain a good speed. I would be looking to average close to 30+km per hour and I would ride a good road bike.

But that isn't my objective. I am out to explore the National Cycle network and the places that I pass through. I want to have a photographic record of the journey and along the way, I would like to be able to find time to dialogue with people. It isn't easy to achieve those objectives if you are on a time a distance schedule.

I want to do a John O'Groats to Lands End ride but as part of my National Cycle Network exploration. I would like it to be part of a ride that took me to the extremes of the National Cycle network (i.e. Shetland Islands to Lands End, Dover, Isle of Wright, Isle of Man, and Londonderry (Northern Ireland)). You could say a circumnavigation of the UK coast line but there is also plenty in the central UK to explore. There are even some routes that don't seem to appear on the National Network. Of course not all of this will be done at once but there will be some major journeys taking in a week or two of riding.

My mode of transport won't be a road bike (I don't own one any more). My preferred transport will be a recumbent trike however, I will also have available a mountain bike for some single track riding. This is a journey of exploration and hope research. Not only do I want to see this country, I would like to explore how people deal with the economic conditions and whether they see any alternative economic strategies. How would people survive if the banking system collapsed? I believe they will some more easily than others.

The point that I want to make in this blog is that the objective that someone sets themselves will determine whether this ride is a challenge for them and whether they will achieve what they set themselves as a goal but then life is a lot like that. Each of us has different objectives with different levels of difficulty. Just because your objective to me doesn't make it challenging, it doesn't mean that it will not be a challenge to you.
If you see me triking around then don't be afraid to stop me and have a chat. You never know we might both learn something and that is what I believe life is about.

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