Blog Post by Emma: 19th Sept 2015

Since we came back from our trip to Italy, we’ve crammed in some great riding at weekends. Over the last few days I’ve started to feel pretty shattered, but when I recounted the rides we’d done in the six weeks since Italy, I realised why!! In that six week period we’d done three Lake District rides, including the leg-grinder six-pass loop, two century rides (one hilly and one one super-hilly in the Peak District). We nearly always ride both Saturday and Sunday, so on our non-hilly day, there would still be an endurance ride. I love the days out, when we pack up our bikes and kit, load up the car (that’s Grant’s job, I look after the catering!), and head out to the Lake District or Peak District. But all the early starts had caught up with me, and so we decided to grab a lie-in and ride from home this weekend.

Our ride took us out through Barlaston, across to Moddershall, Wetley Rocks, then onto Meerbrook, where the steep climbs begin. We climbed up Roche Grange which is super steep, then onto the top of the beautiful, heather-strewn Roaches. The next toughie is the narrow, winding road up to Flash, the highest village in England. There is a defibrillator on the wall of the pub at the top, this always makes me smile… it there for the huffing and puffing cyclists?! I’m not making jest of this, it’s great that such things are on hand in isolated, rural areas.


Our reward for this, and not to mention the climbs ahead, was a little stop at Flash Bar Stores, to stock up on water and, more importantly….FLAPJACK! We suffered bitter disappointment a few weeks ago when told there was none left, so unable to face that again, we phoned ahead to reserve some, much to the amusement of the lady who owns the store! It’s testament to how good it is, I told her!

image    imageOn our last ride there it’d had been colder than expected, so today’s conditions were a real bonus, virtually still and very mild. So the descent down to Longnor was not chilly at all, and the road along to Elkstones was a real treat, scenic and very quiet. The climb up to Elkstones is steep, with gradients above 15%, which is tough on the legs after the previous 50 miles. To add to the required effort, Grant was greeted by a not so friendly collie who decided he might like to have a nip! No harm done thankfully and Grant waited for me to arrive, to make sure our canine friend didn’t chase me too! Out-sprinting a grumpy dog on this climb isn’t really an option!!

The views are wonderful once you’ve climbed back onto the moor, with our route bringing us out by the well known Mermaid (formerly a pub, now self-catering accommodation). From here we headed back across to the Roaches, descending down to Meerbrook, and then retraced our way back home through the lanes

I felt so much better on this ride than I had for the last few weeks. I rode fairly strongly, and didn’t feel too jaded as we returned home with 89 miles on the clock and approximately 2500m of climbing, according to our Garmin. Having had almost nine hours sleep the night before, combined with the super fuelling flapjack, I concluded that perhaps this is all you need for success in endurance cycling!!  Only kidding…. there are so many strands to training, nutrition, recovery etc…..I’m not saying you should eat a flapjack of this size every ride!! I guess my point is, that very often when you’re feeling out of sorts, or wondering why rides are not going well, it’s easy to overlook the basics, such as lack of sleep or general recovery. I’m now looking forward to a recovery week and catching up on some off the bike stuff!