After Saturday’s assault on the radar station I was a little dis-hearted and was starting to doubt my abilities and readiness for the Etape Caledonia. Crazy I know but it was eating away at me! Yes the radar station is a tough climb on the best of days when the conditions are good, so to complete it in the brutal conditions Chris and I endured was an achievement but I just couldn’t rid this feeling of doubt I was having. I can’t explain why but it was getting me down so I had to do something about it.
Yesterday morning I was through at Strathkenrdrick for my eldest son’s rugby tournament which involved driving over the campsie’s. During the climb over the mountain in the car all we came across was cyclist after cyclist tackling the almighty beast that was the Campsies. I started getting envious of the lycra clad cyclists tackling the climbs on their bikes while I was stuck in my car! I made a mental note to add the Campsies to my bucket list of climbs to smash!
It was a lovely day and the boys did well at the tournament, but more importantly enjoyed themselves. Heading back home over the Campsies we came across yet more cyclists which made my decision, I was heading out on the bike when I got home! My legs were a little heavy and tired after the Radar Station but I was heading out, I needed to reassure myself.
Just over an hour later and we were home, unloaded the car and dug out my cycling gear. The plan was to head over the Eaglesham Moors on what is now the usual Wednesday night route. Why that route, well it’s a route with plenty climbing to test myself.
Heading off I made my way to Stroud Road and found myself powering along at just over 18mph. I could feel my legs and wondered if I’d bitten off more than I could chew, was I over doing it just to score a mental victory? Lindsayfield quickly approached and the average speed was still 18-19mph, the legs were feeling ok, not fresh but ok. Powering on through Lindsayfield the pace didn’t drop, I didn’t allow it. A quick left turn saw me on the backroads heading down towards Jackton, again the speed was faster than normal. You’re going to burn yourself out before the start of the climbs, the voice in my head screamed……. I took no notice and powered on, could I maintain this speed? I was now focused on setting an 18mph average over the hilly 27 mile route.
Jackton came and pasted and before I knew it I was at the foot of Eaglesham about to tackle the Paris-Roubaix style climb out of the village. When I say Paris-Roubaix style it’s nothing fancy it’s called this because the first hill is so uneven and rattles you about. A quick glance down at my Garmin and my average speed is showing around 18-19mph. I mentally calculate that if I can get over the Moors onto the A77 only dropping to around 17mph average I can make it back up on the long straight.
I start on the Paris-Roubaix style climb out of Eaglesham, reach the halfway point and my legs are starting to hurt, the day before’s climbing is taking it’s toll, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here haven’t I? To win a mental fight with myself I pushed it too hard from the off, to be fair I really shouldn’t be out, I should be resting but no my stubbornness has taken over. I don’t listen to my wife so there’s no chance I’m going to listen to my legs, I keep powering on and boom, the first climb is out the way.
The next three climbs of the Moors really torture the muscles in my legs but I try to relax as much as I can and one by one the climbs are conquered, I’m now at the top and get onto the drops the fly down the other side. I should be using this descent to rest the legs, give them time to recover but no, I’ve only dropped my average to 17.5mph so I’m well on target to make that up on the A77, so instead of giving the legs some well earned rest I keep powering down on the pedals until I’ve reached the A77.
This is it, this is the section where I can and should bring the average speed back up. I turn onto the cycle lane and bang! Straight into a strong headwind…… bollocks! This has really dented my chances now, I try to power through it as hard as I can but it’s tough going and my legs don’t have that much to offer against the resistance of the wind. I manage to get up to 18mph at points along the A77, usually on a calm day I can power along at anything between 23-29mph, not today! Head down and teeth gritted I continue along the A77, my legs are hurting but I’m determined, the radar station and Mennock Pass climbs ring in my ears, they take over my head, I’m determined to show them I can do this!
The right turn approaches to send me in the direction of Newton Mearns, it offers a little respite from the wind but to compensate the reduction in wind it offers an incline, not a huge incline, but when your legs are feeling it the incline is multiplied! A couple tricky wee climbs are thrown into the mix in an attempt to break me, but it’s not happening, I won’t allow it! Before long I’m back in Eaglesham, my average speed is just over the 18mph mark, I’m on target but still have a couple hills to tackle which will inevitably bring my average speed down again.
Retracing my wheel revolutions into Jackton and over the back roads to Lindsayfield, my average speed has dropped below the 18mph mark again as predicted. I push hard to try and bring it back into the 18mph mark through Lindsayfield, knowing that I have the Stroud Road to make up the speed if necessary. I’ve now passed Morrisons and onto the Stroud Road, average speed has dropped into the 17mph mark, time to power on. My legs are really feeling it now and I just can’t get up to the speeds I normally do on this section, nevertheless I grit the teeth and push as hard as I can, ignoring the screams from the legs, my only focus is 18mph average! I’m now faced with the tough little dig up hill from the foot of Stroud Road, it slows me down and reduces my average speed, I’m now up against it, time is running out to achieve my goal. I manage to make time up along the last section and feel elated when the Garmin changes from 17.9mph to 18mph average! Nearly there but not home and dry yet! I speed under the flyover and approach the roundabout where I’m forced to slow down due to a car coming round, it seems to take ages to get out my path, I’ve now lost some of the momentum which would’ve taken me into the final wee dig before the finish. With momentum lost I really have to work my tired and aching legs, I push as hard as I physically and mentally can up the slip road. I glance at my Garmin just as the 18mph figure changes to 17.9mph…….Argggh! I dig even deeper on the last very short but challenging climb, rapidly changing into a higher gear as I crest the top in an attempt to force the Garmin into changing from 17.9mph to 18mph. I take the turn into my street a little recklessly cutting the corner in an attempt to keep my speed up, thankfully nothing was coming. Just running out of rime I arrive at my house and stop my Garmin…… 17.9mph average!
I didn’t make the 18mph average but what I did mange was to settle my demons, rebuild my confidence and prove to myself that I could do it! I was tired, my legs were aching but I was elated and very happy. I’d managed my 2nd fastest time round the Eaglesham Moors route, and that was after a hard days climbing the Radar Station the day before! Not only that I also managed to take 10th sport on one of the Strava sections!
It was just something I had to do to reassure myself. Why there was doubt in my mind I don’t know, I’ve trained hard so there was no reason for it but it was there…… not any more! I had physically and mentally overcome that doubt!