Back on the bike, but no form.

Now that I’ve had the all clear from my doctor that there’s nothing dreadfully amiss with my back (even though it still hurts) and have been told I can go back to cycling and swimming, I’m trying to make the most of it, before winter arrives.

For my first ride back, last Wednesday, I went with group 2; I’d forgotten just how slow they are, with frequent route finding stops, eating and drinking stops, loo stops and stops for U-turns when we’d got it wrong. In winter the weekend rides move to Saturday afternoons, which I can’t often make, but could today. I had a look at the two routes proposed for today; group 2 was only 50km and completely flat, whereas group 1’s route, though not much further, at 60km, was very hilly. I hoped there’d be someone wanting to do group 1 bis; often they either follow the group 1 route, but more slowly, or they cut it a bit short.

On arrival at the start, there weren’t many prepared to brave the wind that had been battering the region since last night, so only 4 riders in group 1 and, apart from me, all very strong cyclists. Nevertheless, I’d go with them, I couldn’t face staying with the other group. We set off at a cracking pace; I held my own for the first few, flat, kilometers, but as soon as the hills started, I was off the back, realising just how much fitness I’ve lost over the past few, inactive weeks. When they stopped to wait for me to catch up, I said I thought I’d go home, I was really struggling, but they wouldn’t hear of it; they’d drop the pace a bit. I was still off the back most of the time and my lowest gears were playing up, which wasn’t useful on such a hilly ride, but I struggled on. There was so much debris on the roads that in places it was impossible to tell if the road was tarmacked; leaves, twigs, branches, and even a few trees and telegraph poles brought down by the wind.

Finally we were back in Dax – I’d made it; at least I know I’ve done something as I drink my cup of tea and contemplate the partially painted spare room furniture on the balcony. I was going to finish the undercoat when I got home, but I think it’ll wait till tomorrow.