I rode a route last night that goes from my house up into the hills via a lovely place called Birtle. John Whatshisname who’s the chairman of Man City lives there. The main feature of Birtle is it’s on a big nasty hill. I was on the singlespeed and it HURT. A lot. There’s a fair bit of climbing to get there in the first place but then it really kicks up and starts to punish, in fact a couple of times I thought I was going to dismount on account of me almost not being able to turn the pedals…then came the bit with the ankle-deep mud, and then the bit where you’ve got to ride up the rock-filled stream (Garry knows this one from waaaayyyy back).
Once I’d topped that one out I was then a short downhill and the climb up the Nangreaves cobbles. Think of Paris-Roubaix without the spectators. That climb hurt more than the last one! What works is focussing on the event you’re training for. I found that thinking about the Fred and the Cristalp and reminding myself this is why I’m doing this stupid thing really helped me put the power down and give those bars a good old wrenching. Then it was steeply down into Ramsbottom along the rocky path that made me really appreciate suspension forks (cos I didn’t have one). I literally went down the thing going “OW!”, “ARGH!”, “OOF!”, “URGH!” and I had arms like Popeye when I’d finally reached the bottom. Quick stop at Phil’s to drop off a small Camelbak I’ve sold him (yep, I’d ridden up till now with two Camelbaks on), and then off down the “easier” route home again. Made it in 2.5 hours, which I thought was pretty good and leaves some room for improvement too.