3 July 2007

2: Fitness

People who take on a ride like this need to be fit, that goes without saying. Each individual knows if they are at a level of fitness to ride 127 miles in a day no matter what the surface, road or path. The surface of the towpath, in places, is not good and it's hard work riding the rough stretches.

If you are going to attempt the ride in a day then you must understand that your body is going to take quite a pounding at times. The constant peddling is hard enough and your knees take some hammer, but the vibration through your wrists is the thing you notice as well. There are no hills to freewheel down, apart from the locks, so you are pretty much peddling the whole route and the repetitiveness of this can affect your knees...as we learned to our cost, even though we had trained on one the roughest stretches of the towpath.

For four and a half months our weekly training rides would usually take in the stretch of towpath around Silsden which is a very rough track so we were used to it. But still, on the day we did the ride, the rough sections caused us problems...they sap your energy quickly and serious concentration is required so as not to lose control of the bike. Add this to the fact that you've cycled 100 miles already, you are tired, and it doesn't take long for it to take it's toll on you. So be honest with yourself, if you're not fit enough I wouldn't recommend that you attempt the route in one day. We knew we were but it was still very hard.

It has to be said that a couple of us have experience of long distance bike riding, but the rest of the lads haven't and it was to their credit that they got themselves fit enough to do it in a few months. That's not to say they aren't fit at all because we all do some form of training..running, football, cycling etc. and that's pretty much all year round so we weren't short on fitness...we just needed to build our stamina level up and the best way to do that is get out on the bike and ride...20, 30, 40, 50 miles a time so that on the day of the ride you're used to it. We still did some road riding, anything to get the miles in, but mostly we trained off road.

So, if you're one of those people who knows they're fit enough to give it a go...go for it. If you're not, do it over a couple of days and make a weekend of it because if you run out of gas on some stretches of the canal then you're in for a long drag to the next town or village. Having said all that, you don't have to be super fit to attempt it....just be sensible, and, as I said before...be honest with yourself.


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