We’re barely into May and already I’ve clocked up over 500 miles. I’m halfway to my target! Yesterday’s ride was a particularly notable one, a new daily record of 21.57 miles, and my first proper trip to and from somewhere a significant way from Stafford. It was a lovely day and with my 500 up I gave myself an extra push to see what my current limits are.

I had my usual ride into town for coffee, and interestingly I had to slow down for a bus that was holding me up, doing ‘only’ 20 mph. It’s just a couple of miles into town so I usually ride it pretty quickly if I know I’m stopping. I headed out and passed 500 on the Isabel trail, and as I approached the Common Road bridge I was wondering whether to ride home or turn off. Bugger it, let’s see what we can do!

I turned off and rode along Common Road to pick up the Marston Road, which leads out into the country. It never ceases to amaze me how routes feel shorter the second time you ride them! There were farmers out tending their fields and enough cows to keep me in roast beef for a lifetime, and all the way the sound of birdsong and the heat of the sun, just slightly diminished by light cloud cover. I reached the crossroads that marked my previous best, and carried on towards Aston. I got a friendly hello from someone mowing their lawn, and the lanes were surprisingly quiet for a Saturday lunchtime.

Apart from a rather dull section that runs alongside a dual carriageway the route was really nice, passing about half a dozen farms and the odd Victorian church, as well as some very pretty country cottages. The signposted route then directed me into a canal towpath and to the left, and it was only after I’d ridden down it for ten minutes or so with no marina that I stopped and asked for directions. “It’s about ten minutes back that way…”

My little Carradice bag’s been feeling the strain lately as I see just how much I can fit in it if I fold clothes carefully. Today was far too hot for that track top I was wearing, but I was glad I had it when I finally reached Aston Marina so I could cover up a multitude of sweat patches! Aston Marina has a large area for mooring canal barges, and a rather nice bar and restaurant. I had a pint of shandy and a little cake while I got my breath back, mainly I just needed a little shade for a bit. 

Setting off back to Stafford I was feeling pretty hot in the sun but still had plenty of energy in my legs. I consciously tried to pace myself but was able to cruise at 15mph for much of it. I can really see why road bikers wear Lycra for cycling, I was pretty sweaty and my clothes weren’t really helping. By the time I got home I was understandably tired, though not totally spent. I had a nice long bath and a nap after.

So with that epic ride added to some longish rides earlier in the week and another 8 miles today I’ve done just short of 65 miles in six days. Part of the reason I rode so far yesterday was to see how I’d cope with that 22 mile sportive in July, and in distance terms I should be fine. My headache now is what the weather might bring, and I’ll have to think carefully about what I wear. It’s all learning.


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