With only two weekends left before our 60 mile cycle between London and Eastbourne, Elaine and I decided to get out early on Sunday for a long cycle. We planned to do 40 miles between our house at St Albans, and set off at 9.30 into a stuffy summer morning. I love being out at that time in the morning as the roads are quiet and there’s a sleepiness hanging over the city still. On Sunday, it wasn’t just the city that was sleepy – I struggled to get started despite getting more than 8 hours sleep on both Friday and Saturday.
Thankfully the first section was flat as we headed down to the canal in East London through the Tottenham Marshes and near the Lee Valley canals. Stopping in Waltham Abbey (where I’m pictured above) for a look around, my energy levels were still low so a coffee and some food were devoured in the sun. In retrospect, I’ve realised that I need a more substantial breakfast before setting out in future.
The next stage was a lot easier after this nourishment – we headed along the Lee Valley canal path to Broxbourne and then headed in land on quiet country roads. After the flat terrain of the canal paths, Baas Hill and the roads that followed were a fun challenge. We were making better time now too without having to stop constantly for pedestrians and runners.
Sadly, it wasn’t long until the rain started and it went from drizzling to pouring in what felt like seconds. At this point, our route took us off road and onto dirt paths through woods and on rough paths along fields. I’m sure it would have been beautiful on a dry day, but given how heavy the air was I kept waiting for the crack thunder. Thankfully it never happened – nor did I spot one of tornadoes that had been forecast although when I started to feel tired I was having fun imagining different ways to escape one if I did spot one on the horizon.
Drenched right through, the ride stopped being fun and at the proposed last stop – at Hatfield – we decided to call it a day when we found out trains here went to our local station. Before catching a train, we dried off as best we could in the local pub and got ourselves a wee warmer to put some colour back in our washed out faces.
All in all, we managed around 32 miles in around 4 hours. While this felt like an achievement given the climate and terrain, it was just half of what we’ll need to do in a few weekends time.