“It’s not training if it’s not raining”.

I heard that once somewhere, it seems fairly appropriate today. Some well timed Northern weather has descended on London to give me a go in the wet. No doubt I’ll be facing similar conditions along the way – I’ll be going past Manchester after all.

I have no strict training plan. This is a bit hit and miss, certainly not the way I’d prepare for an audition anyway! It was a last minute decision to ride, a now or never situation, so I kind of knew the fingers crossed approach would have to suffice before I decided to do it.

However, I’m not exactly unfamiliar to the saddle.(I’m bordering the right side of insanity, don’t worry). The 40 miles I did 2 days ago wasn’t the longest or most strenuous ride I’ve ever done. It was a pleasant loop around the Grand Union canal, through Richmond Park and back along the river to Central London. I ached a little in the morning but it’s a while since I’ve put my body through that. Today I’ll be off again in the rain (go go wet weather gear!) on another long loop, probably the other way along the canal to Stratford. Off road riding in Central London isn’t easy to come by but it’s there if you know where to look. There’s some surprisingly pleasant spots too. The stretch of canal between Brentford and Bull’s Bridge has a quaint English countryside feel to it, even with jumbos roaring in overhead to Heathrow. Richmond park was also a surprise. I haven’t been there before. Swerving around wild deer wasn’t in my imaginary risk assessment.

The next big ride I’ll be planning for mid week, perhaps Thursday after an (unfortunate but necessary) army fitness test. I think actually it’s my head that needs testing right now after planning this but needs must. A good hill climbing session should do the trick. Hills in South East England you say? Again, they are there if you look. It’s not Snowdonia, but Surrey Hills, The Chilterns, Bedgebury, The South Downs, Epping Forest and Swinley Forest are all less than an hour away by train. It could be a mud bath though. Northern weather is better in the North. Down here there seems to be more mud to churn up on the trails, which was fine a few weeks back in Costa del Peaslake. You’re best finding the number for a local tractor driver if you want pulling out of some of the off-road hotspots around here though. Better go look for that heavy duty cleaning brush…

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