C2C training week 17 – Sky Ride Bath

This week’s training for the Coast to Coast unicycle challenge ride included the normal extended commuting, hockey, and a ride to Bath and back, where I took part in the Skyride. It was a pretty good week, but as usual, I didn’t quite manage to avoid taking a few wrong turnings along the way.

There’s not much to say about the commuting. A couple of days were slightly below, but the average daily commute was just over the planned 15 miles. Hockey has also been more interesting recently, as we’ve had a couple of players from the Cardiff team practising with us for the last few weeks. Their style is a bit different to ours, or maybe they’re just better, but playing with new people can only help to improve our game.

My long weekend ride this week was on Sunday, taking in the Sky Ride Bath. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have caught the train to Bath, but since I’m training at the moment, it wasn’t quite such a ridiculous prospect to ride 15 miles to Bath, take part in the 5 mile ride through the city, then ride 15 miles back.

As per my normal strategy, I didn’t want to ride the same route both ways, and the Bristol-Bath Railway Path is the sensible, hard to get wrong route back, so I planned a
fairly direct course
along relatively minor roads through Kingswood, Wick and Lansdown. The start of this route went past a back road I’ve considered several times on my way to work, but I’ve never been sure whether what seemed to be the two ends of the same road actually met up in the middle. A quick check on Google maps showed hat they did, so I tried the lane behind Heyford Avenue for the first time. It’s quite gravelly, which wasn’t a big problem, but there was a large patch of deep sand at one point, which just stopped my wheel dead, throwing me off quite unceremoniously. That was the only UPD of the day though.

Despite promising street names like “Twomile Hill Road”, the ride profile started out fairly flat (at least compared to normal Bristol riding), with no real sustained steep hills. However, immediately after Wick, I was suddenly faced with a quite unexpected 550ft climb over less than 1.5 miles, which I felt like I only got the hang of just before reaching the summit. The respite on high ground didn’t last for long though, as the road makes an equally steep descent into Weston almost before I was quite used to riding back on the flat again. I had to crawl down the hill very slowly to avoid losing control, and wondered again about getting a brake, which would ironically allow me to go faster down steep hills while still staying in control.

In Weston itself, I made my only navigational error of the day – pretty good going by my usual standard. I turned onto a road which Google maps claims is called “Southlands”, but whose sign says “High Street”. Thinking that I’d gone the wrong way, I looped round the oxbow road, and headed off up Dean Hill Lane. It soon became apparent that that was definitely the wrong way, so I reluctantly turned back along the way I’d come, and up High Street again. Looking at the map after the fact, I could have continued along Dean Hill Lane, but it looked a lot like a dead end at the time. Waiting at the lights just before the Sky Ride registration point, someone leaned out of their car window to give me a donation for the ride – the sign on my back is finally starting to pay off.

I picked up my Sky branded fluorescent tunic at the registration point, and talked to a few people about the C2C ride, some of whom donated to the cause. The ride itself, around the centre of Bath, was quite pleasant, and suprisingly busy. The Sky ride is organised quite differently to Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride, with no specific start point or time, so the whole route was heavily populated with bright yellow-clad riders, enjoying the route on roads which had been closed to motor traffic. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than BBBR, with a lot more conversation between riders, and since it’s all within the town, there were pedestrians cheering us on for almost the whole distance. The distance was the only downside, really. The 5 miles zipped past pretty quickly, and it still wasn’t quite lunch time after completing my circuit, so I kept going for another lap, stopping at the main “entertainment” area to eat.

You can see a bit of a wiggle on my GPS track in the park. That’s because I bumped into a fellow unicyclist who offered me a mini giraffe unicycle to attempt to ride, and I didn’t remember to stop the tracking until after I’d failed to ride it several times. While stopped for lunch, I charged up my phone with the solar charger I didn’t quite get in time for last week’s ride, and it looks like that will come in very handy on the actual C2C ride, so I should be able to get full GPS track of the whole 160 miles.

After lunch, I completed my second lap of the Sky Ride, then rode back down the Railway Path to Bristol. I still had enough energy to make it up the stairs after the day’s 40 mile ride, which is encouraging, but getting down again was made rather interesting due to the soreness of my calf muscles. They were fine the next day though, so I think I’ll be all right to handle 5 days in a row of a slightly shorter distance each.

Training this week: 119 miles, three quarters of the C2C ride length. Total training so far: 1367 miles. There are four weeks left before the real ride, so I should be able to clock up my target of 1600 training miles (ten times the length of the C2C ride). I don’t think I’ll quite manage 2000, though.

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