Date: Sunday 5th March, 2015
Distance: 103.2km | Elevation: 1,426m
Destinations: New Cross – Royal Tunbridge Wells – New Cross
Start kms: 1,925.1km | Finish kms: 2,028.3km | % complete: 20.3%
It can happen to the best of us.
Too many late night after late night. A few too many beers the night before. A restless nights sleep. Eating the wrong thing before jumping on the bike (or simply not eating enough).
Thankfully, it didn’t happen to me.
At least, not this time.
Joining me on an early Sunday morning jaunt to Royal Tunbridge Wells and back, Gorrod had a week of long, stressful, physically-involved days in him thanks to his recent house move. Ever-eager — and almost always running behind time — he wound up feeling the need to cover the 15km from his new house to mine in under half an hour, leaving him slightly out of breath and, as we’d discover, on the back foot before we’d even begun.
In hindsight, the tell-tale signs were there by the time we’d hit 40km. Whereas he would normally always place himself half a wheel ahead of me (a physical embodiment of his superior fitness), today Gorrod was, at best, alongside me.
His head hung heavier, too, looming towards his handlebars.
I quietly rejoiced in the fact that I didn’t have to worry about getting caught in the friendly fire of his snot rockets. I also began to congratulate myself on what was clearly a considerable improvement in my fitness levels.
Any misplaced confidence was immediately shattered when Gorrod pulled into the side of the road and began devouring a CLIF Bar. We were 3km from our rest stop and he is a proud man — as much as I wanted it to be the case, he didn’t just fancy a snack.
Not even a considerable breakfast at The Velo House could reinvigorate those tired legs to regular service. As we rolled past train stations, I watched as he surveyed them with intent, actively weighing up the possibility of dismounting and switching to an infinitely easier mode of transport.
Having already tackled these roads within the last month, involuntarily becoming the stronger rider made them feel somehow easier. My focus was drawn away from the inclines and towards making sure we both made it up and over together, which meant having to take on a level of positivity I rarely afford myself.
Gorrod crossed the 3-figure threshold somewhere on the way back in to Bromley. It was either that, his breakfast kicking-in or the possibility of the ride being over becoming very real that brought him out of the other side.
As I say, rather him than me, but I know that it’s only a matter of time.
All of this said, I do feel it’s only fair I point out that bonking doesn’t mean Gorrod crawls along at a snails pace. He managed to average a speed of 26kph over the course of the ride.
It’s little wonder I struggle to keep up on the good days.