Taff Trail Training Update 3 - Breaking 30 Miles on the Hottest Day of The Year
It has been a month since our last Taff Trail training update and as the day gets ever nearer, Lara & Lewis have carried on pushing themselves.
After our 25 miles twice-around loop around Maidenhead, Dorney Lake, and Windsor last month, we returned (this time with Mum in tow). A slight extension to the route this time, and we managed to break the 30-mile barrier. Time and pace were also good - so good we stopped off in Windsor town centre for the obligatory ice cream.
This turned out to be a terrible idea. Watching the black clouds roll in, knowing we had a good 30-minute ride back to the car, Dad has never willed the kids to eat an ice cream so quickly. The inevitable happened, and half way back the heavens opened. Not your average shower - something the kids likened to Drench Towers in Legoland. They were fine - unsurprisingly they have more kit than anyone should ever need. Dad, on the other hand, doesn't fit into Little Pro sizes, and needless to say, his waterproof jacket is not waterproof. Oh, how Lara & Lewis laughed. "Hey, Dad - why don't you stop hiding under that tree..."
Keeping the kids interested
These long rides take their toll on the kids, and it's a fine balancing act to keep them motivated. The second they are not enjoying themselves, you start to question whether you continue. We are now at the point where they are spending 4 - 5 hours in the saddle every ride, and with breaks / stops its a full day out.
So to mix things up a little, we decided to go back to our roots, and hit the trails in Swinley Forest, but not before the kids noticed something: "Dad - you are selling helmets? I need a new helmet". Did I mention these two have way too much kit? Dad got mugged again....
The Swinley blue trail is an "easy" ride out at just 5.5 miles. It doesn't seem long ago that this was a good ride for us - stopping for snacks and to recharge half way around. This time it was all over in an hour.
Soon after, shock sets in. In the process of booking places to stay in order to attempt the 55-mile ride, Dad realizes that it's barely 2 months away, and we have not managed anything more than 30 miles. So we searched for a new trail and found the Kennet & Avon canal towpath. This runs from Reading all the way down to Newbury - 19 miles each way. We planned to take this on and push to break the 40-mile barrier.
The hottest Day Of The Year
The day of the ride came, and the weather was excellent. Too excellent. The hottest day of the year so far came with temperatures of 32 degrees. This was going to be tough, and we considered whether we should even attempt it on such a hot day. Heat can be a killer....
We struggled from the start. Lara & Lewis, like Mum & Dad, were out of the water by the 7-mile mark despite taking double the supplies we would normally. Luckily, we are by a canal and we located a service point with a tap and refilled. We pushed on, but the pace was slow. The kids just could not perform in the heat - riding fast was making them hotter, and with no breeze to help it was tough - really tough. Added to that, Lara took a hit from a hidden rut on one of the paths and made her way over the handlebars to have a one to one with the ground in front of her. A thick lip and much blood later she got back on and carried on riding.
We eventually got to Thatcham and made the decision to turn around and make our way back. Ironically, by now it was late in the day and the temperature was starting to drop, and they started getting quicker again. Even so, we didn't get back to Reading until very late.
Pushing the limits
This was by far the toughest day out we have had. Distance, we covered only about 33 miles - still a record, but far short of where we were hoping to be. But we achieved and learned much more than just the distance itself. This whole challenge is pushing the limits of what Lara & Lewis can achieve, but it's also about learning what they can't achieve.
If Lara & Lewis are going to complete this challenge, they are going to need resilience and determination by the bucket load. Today, they bought it.
Stay tuned to Little Pro cycling gear for kids for our regular Taff Trail training updates as the big day gets closer and the kids get stuck into the training.