Thursday 29 December 2016

Rapha Festive 500: Day 3

Monday 26th December - My Tour de Londres - Southern loop (Surrey)

Another day another running race followed by my bike ride. I must say this has been the trickiest aspect of completing the Festive 500. It's easier said than done, doing a running race before getting on the bike and riding. For a seasoned triathlete or duathlete this is a piece of cake, even grist to their mill. But for me, as someone who has not indulged in this for years it can be a bit hard on the muscles when repeating the activity a few days in succession.

Sitting in a bath of almost freezing water has therefore become part of my daily ritual. It's always a bit of a "yowser" moment when my lower body gets immersed, but my leg muscles will hopefully thank me for it!

The other practical problem around doing an event before starting my ride is that I end up starting my Festive 500 miles later in the day, and given that the sun is sets at around 4pm I always feel like I am racing against the clock to be out of the country lanes before it gets dark.

But, as I said earlier, I don't want to have to stop my other activities because of this challenge.

Farthing Down - the bit before it gets really muddy!
So, today's event was my running club Boxing Day handicap - a 2-mile cross country running race in the area south of Croydon known as Farthing Down and Happy Valley.

It involved a steep uphill section from the gun, followed by undulating sections that were incredibly muddy. For me, this would just have to be a survival run - do enough to get round without incident (there were a few casualties along the way), but not be so slow that the organisers would need to send out the search party!

Needless to say, I finished in last place. But hey, I beat the people who are still on the sofa or still in bed, and I got a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon - a nice red wine for being the lanterne rouge!

After all the merrymaking of the Boxing Day handicap my bike ride didn't start until almost 1pm. In fact, I had already clocked up some kms for the day as my ride to Farthing Down was about 16km.

Given the time, I planned on doing a short local loop into Surrey, taking in the edge of Redhill and Reigate. The roads were even quieter than on Christmas Day, and I hardly saw any cars on the lanes around Gatton Bottom. I didn't see many cyclists either, which is a turn-up for the books on this popular route. So it was great to have the roads to myself in the nice winter sunshine.

Then problems struck part way round when I got the hunger knock. Even though I had only run a little more than two miles, the challenging cross-country terrain had made it feel like a much longer distance and my legs had worked harder than I realised. So it was a bit of a battle to keep going. As a general rule I can't eat anything less than four hours before a running race, so I end up doing morning running races on an almost empty stomach. That was the case today, and then afterwards I only had time to quickly eat a bagel before dashing off to start the ride.
Fanny's Farm Shop

Ironically, my route went past the old Fanny's Farm Shop. This used to be a famous cafe stop among local cyclists for years and the cakes were lovely. It wasn't just a cafe, it had all these nice little huts where you could enjoy your refreshments in novel parts of the farm, including in a tree house.

Sadly, Fanny died a few years ago and the cafe closed in 2015. So there I was standing outside the old sign for the farm shop, without even a sniff of cake but with a few hills to crest at Chipstead before I could get home. That blessed bottle of wine in my bag was of no use apart from to weigh me down and make me dig even more into my low energy reserves! Luckily, I found a stray mini-pack of oatcakes hidden right in the bottom of my bag. A lifeline! I wolfed down the manna from heaven before pushing on back home. After a few more hills it was downhill back into Croydon (metaphorically as well as literally) and I got home comfortably before sunset (thankfully).

49.6km ridden; running total - 201km; 299km left
3.6km cross-country run
1 bagel and 4 oatcakes
Weather: sunny, 10degC, windy

My rides on Strava

Ride to the Boxing Day handicap

Southern loop (Surrey)

Related Posts
Tackling the Rapha Festive 500

Rapha Festive 500: Day 1

Rapha Festive 500: Day 2

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