On May 15-16, my legs feel like they’re running on empty for a couple of hours after lunch. I can still pedal, but it feels like I’ll barely make it up the next hill. An hour or two later, my legs keep pedalling, but they always ache. I’ve stopped more often and pushed my bike up some hills. There have been hills, heat, and hard rain. Since there has been a lot of rain, I have fewer pictures than normal, so I’ll describe what it’s felt like.
I’ve never considered stopping any physical challenge that I’ve started—not cycling across the UK, not marathons, not 100 mile bike rides. During the last 2 days, I’ve wondered if I could make it to the end of the day’s ride. Maybe it’s my lack of training for this ride or maybe my oncologist was right about the increased fatigue I would feel, from my cancer treatment. I’m not the last cyclist to finish each day, but I’m usually close. After a lifetime of being physically active, I’m not used to being one of the last so often.
The people I’m cycling with have helped a lot, encouraging me and other slow riders.
The tour leader, Wally, is especially good. He’s been leading tours for 20 years, and it shows in a few ways. He’s patient, insightful, and of course, he has an adorable bike. It has a belt drive, internal gears in back, and a frame that easily comes apart for shipping. Anyway, Wally keeps telling me and others that we’re doing fine. He also says that we’ll all get in amazing shape in a week or two.
I should know that. When I cycled across Britain, I pushed my bike up many hills, and I can still remember the pain in my legs, during the first couple of weeks. After that, I slowly gained strength and stamina. I’ve also learned that the other riders on this trip spent weeks or months getting in shape, riding hundreds or thousands of miles just to get ready for this trip.
There’s no reason to think I won’t get in better shape and feel less aches. It’s just hard to remember that at the end of the day, when it’s 80-90 degrees, a thunder-shower shows up, and of course, more hills. I always knew this ride was going to have tough moment, but when those moments get up close and personal, it can wear you down a bit. It helps to share some honest thoughts here and to talk with other cyclists at the end of the day. This long ride can hurt, but I’m not even close to giving up.