I awoke and found my knee was very stiff again. It was tricky to straighten. Two and a bit days of pushing on hoping it would sort itself out, but in reality I just needed a few days off the bike to allow it to recover and I knew this was the end of my event.
The Welsh mountains were done and I just had the rolling foothills leading back into England. Sounds easy, but what could have been a nice roll down into Oswestry turned into some really tough, steep tracks criss-crossing the countryside before dropping me down slowly into the town.
I rode through Oswestry into the town of Gobowen where there was a railway station. I was still on the route and on schedule. I stopped opposite the station and sat down outside the Co-op. I didn't want to scratch and needed some time to consider my options. People were telling me to get a hotel, sit out a day, regroup and see how I feel. The thing that was pushing me forward was knowing I was still within the time limit and without the motivation I wasn't sure I would make it. Everyone needs something when you are having a bad time and this was mine - maybe I set my targets too high, maybe I could just ride and see how it goes?
I looked for a local hotel on my phone but my heart wasn't really in it. It was carry on or go home. I ate some food and swung my leg over the bike and continued down the track. I didn't get very far, I turned down the wrong road, I couldn't find the correct track, I couldn't seem to work my Garmin anymore, I was just getting frustrated with myself, ahhh! I turned round and returned back a couple of kilometres to the bench.
I sat there for about 5 minutes, crossed the road and bought a train ticket home. It didn't take long, couple of trains and I was back in London, short ride across to Liverpool Street and within hours I was back in Essex.
On reflection it took about a week before my knee was comfortable to ride on again, I made the right decision. Even on the train back I was planning next year’s attempt, some kit changes and the knowledge I had gained from riding it this year would make a big difference.
I must say a big thanks to Kevin and the team for their support and for putting on a great event. When you are writing the blogs it’s easy to pick out the memorable/painful bits but there are hundreds of kilometres in-between where you are just riding along, lost in your own world, enjoying the scenery. It’s hard to explain the joy of just riding your bike for 19-20 hours a day with no other pull on your time. You are probably thinking, "I can't do that" but you probably can, it’s just a matter or pacing - normally you have a target, "I am going out for 2 hours" or a certain distance and you feel tired at the end because your mind and body is working towards that goal. When that's taken away and you just ride until you need to eat or sleep that’s it, you just do it.
I would encourage anyone to have a go, it doesn't need to be an organised event, just get out and ride your bike.
Hopefully I will see a few Travers Bikes on the start line in 2022 or posting their adventures from their rides.
HAND BUILT TITANIUM FRAMES.