We managed to get our bikes out for a good long run for the first time yesterday. We went to Howth, which is a little harbour town a few kilometres north of where we live in Dublin.
The cycle there was great. It was a nice sunny day, not too busy and no wind – at least that’s what we thought!
When we got to Howth, we didn’t just come turn around and go back. We decided that we would take a trip up to ‘The Summit’. ‘The Summit’ isn’t anything terribly exciting – it’s just a hill – a long hill – from which you have a nice view of the Irish Sea. It was a little bit of struggle for Monika, but once she got into a rhythm, she made short work of the 170m climb.
The descent was fantastic fun. I put it into top gear, really leaned on the pedals and chased the cars all the way down the hill. This turned out to be a silly idea that would come back to bite me later.
On our way back, along the same route as we had arrived, we discovered why it was such a pleasant ride into Howth. We had the wind behind us. Now, of course we were cycling into the wind. It’s funny how the wind was there all along, but we didn’t even notice it and now it felt like it was a mini gale force wind. I was even looking at the trees expecting to see them being uprooted and crashing down around me, but there was none of that. The sun was shining and the ‘mini gale force wind’ was nothing more than a gentle sea breeze. I was struggling. My legs were on fire and they felt like they were ready to burst. Monika even overtook me and sailed off into the distance.
I was puffing and panting like an 83 year old coal miner with emphysema. Eventually Monika looked back and after realising that I was a mere speck on the horizon, she slowed down enough to let me catch up and to ask me ‘Why so slow?’ Anyone who knows us, knows that I am not the slow one, so it came as a bit of a shock to see how much I was suffering.
Eventually after what felt like hours, we made it home. So what was our total distance? 200km? 100km? Nope! 40km. 40km is all that it took to break me – actually it was more like 30km. I was chasing the imaginary ice cream that was dangling in front of my face for the last 10km.
When we got home, I shuffled around a bit trying to get the feeling back into my legs, before deciding that we needed snacks. We went off to the shops and spend €20 on 3 tubs of ice cream, 6 ice creams on sticks, 2 frozen pizzas, a big bag of oven chips and a bag of jelly donuts. I was pretty sure we hadn’t earned it – but that didn’t matter. I spent the next four hours half comatose on the couch. Monika didn’t seem too affected at all! She was buzzing around the kitchen making cakes and dinner, while it was an effort for me to even move my eyeball.
Now imagine us being on our trip. 40km isn’t exactly a huge distance when you are talking about cycling around the world, but if someone had come and told me that I had to cycle another 60 or 70km before it was ok to stop, I would have laughed, then cried, then sat down and refused to go anywhere. There would be no comfy couch to lie down on, or shops to buy ice cream or frozen pizzas. Instead, we will have to build our tent, use our stove to cook something (which we would probably have had everyday for the last three weeks) and go to our sleeping bags tired and unwashed.
The world seems very big at the moment…