On Wednesday evening we got all of our stuff ready as we knew that we would have an early start on Thursday. I was looking forward to the swim but was nervous about the long ride to Aljezur. Fortunately, some humour sneaked onto the schedule boards:
The runners weren’t sure whether they would really have to clean our bikes, but Bryn decided that he was having none of it, so he added the big “NO”.
As we had established that I didn’t really fit into any of the swimming pace groups, I did some laps of shark fin rock accompanied by Andy and Kat. I’ve realised that I love swimming in the sea when it is calm. (I’ve never tried swimming in rough sea). The waves were barely noticeable, and the salt water seems less saturated than when I first swam in Fowey Harbour.
When we got back to the Giramar, I had a quick breakfast of porridge, before we set out on a 90km ride.
It started out OK, but it wasn’t long before I started to struggle. If I could have caught up enough to draft people, that would have helped, but I’m just not a good enough cyclist. It wasn’t long before we got to a long hill, which felt endless. I didn’t really enjoy it as I was getting more and more stressed that I couldn’t keep up with the others. Kat entertained herself by cycling backwards and forwards so that she would have some kind of workout… despite the fact that she was also cycling a very heavy bike.
At the first stop, I was tempted to say that I would cycle back to the apartment, but I didn’t want to be a quitter and I was hoping that it would get better. At this point, Graeme started to explain that he wanted us to do some drills. Firstly, he wanted us to cycle for 5 minutes before changing into top gear and cycling for 5 minutes. I could understand that this would be good for us, but I refused to participate as I couldn’t keep up anyway and was still afraid that I might fall on a hill. It is something that I must try when I go out cycling at home, in the hope that I’ll be able to keep up next time.
After lots of uphill cycling, there was finally a long downhill stretch that I really enjoyed. Then we arrived at a cake stop. I decided to indulge in a cake. I had no idea what anything in the cafe was, so I just pointed at something that looked like a coconutty swiss roll. Katherine could probably tell me what it is, but I probably couldn’t spell it!
It was quite delicious, although I probably hadn’t burned enough calories to justify it!
We didn’t rest for long before moving on again. Graeme set us another drill of unclipping one foot and pedalling for 20 strokes, before clipping in again and pedalling for 20 strokes before repeating on the other side. Apparently, he also said to do this for 15 minutes, but I didn’t hear that part. I was one of the last to leave the cafe, but some of the others seemed to be going slowly, so I passed them and continued whilst I was still able to. This went on for quite a while and I quite enjoyed pedalling with alternate legs.
Eventually, some of the others passed me. They pointed out that they had stopped one-legged cycling ages ago, but I hadn’t realised – doh! I think most people realised that they had one leg that was stronger than the other and they also had uneven pedal strokes. I won’t pretend that my strokes are as smooth as they should be, but I didn’t notice any significant difference in leg strength. Yippee – I’ve found my forte!
Later on, we stopped for another break. Most of us went to the cafe, as it was serving special egg-custard tarts (a local delicacy).
Heather decided to find herself some more toy boys. Her American charm meant that she was able to make friends wherever she went!!!
Some of the others decided to cycle out to the coast. I would have loved to have gone with them, but I was intensely conscious of how slow I am, so I agreed to cycle back with Stu, John, Jen and Claire. John tried to help me by getting us into a ‘chain gang’ to practise drafting. It worked until we hit a hill and I finished my turn at the front. I fell behind and was unable to catch up again. I found it intensely frustrating as I hate letting other people down, but I just don’t know how to cycle faster. After a while, we reached a downhill and then it didn’t take us long to get back to the apartments.
Garmin data for the bike ride out to Aljezur: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161285
When we got back from the bike ride we had a choice. We could either do a 4km or 6km run off the bike. I felt that I had let myself down again by getting so upset on the bike ride in the morning. I was also frustrated that I had been unable to keep up with the others on the way back. As a consequence, I decided to pay penance by doing 6km. I didn’t have to keep up with anyone, so I felt that the pressure was off me. Despite going slowly, I felt a lot happier. Unfortunately, when I got back, I found out that Jen had gone out on her bike to look for me. `The others were worried that I had had a problem – oops!
Brick run off the bike: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161293
When I had finished, I went for a shower. Then I returned to the kitchen so that I could help with some of the food preparation. An Embrace curry night is always to be looked forward to, and Alan’s cooking skills didn’t disappoint. I would love to know his recipe for spinach and chickpea curry as it is amazing!!!