Monday, 6 May 2013

In the camp of wire and dust

Well that was a very strange few days for sure. Junior and Mrs Mendip Rouleur took themselves off to Ireland to see relatives last Thursday, leaving me footloose and fancy-free. This may take the form of a special report on the state of my lungs!

Actually, I had a pretty hectic schedule planned, as I was riding to work on the Friday, off to West Ham on Saturday, and riding the Somerset Hills Gran Fondo on the Sunday. This was the same event that I had to abandon last year after only 26 miles because of a neck injury. So I was really looking forward to doing it with an ACG collective.

I have been struggling with my asthma a lot this year, as well as coming down with a few colds and manflu on an almost perpetual basis. So on Thursday I took to the doctors to see if I have a chest infection or something that won't go away. After much play with the stethoscope, breathing in and breathing out, etc. etc. the Doc concluded I have an allergy to some tree pollen. I wasn't convinced, although it does correlate with when my breathing is at its worst: the day after I ride my bike.

My commute into work on Friday morning was lovely, all misty sunrise and quiet lanes. But by the time I cam to ride home a nice block south-westerly headwind had developed, I was tired and it was a real struggle to battle home.

Through the night into Saturday it was like I had the cold from hell. And this just got worse through the day, not made any better by the trip to London to watch one of the dullest games of football I have seen in a long time.

This was the most exciting part, just before kick off.

When I got home on Saturday night it was all I could do to shuffle up the stairs and go to bed. I could barely eat, and I knew I was in no fit state to ride a bike. I wasn't any better on Sunday morning so reluctantly told Martyn I was bailing, yet again the SHGF curse strikes the Mendip Rouleur!

Fortunately I have an emergency supply of steroids (it's amazing what a medical exemption certificate can do for you!), and anti-histamines galore, so I took some of each, as well as paracetamol, salbutamol, steroid inhaler and lots of water, and dozed all day until I had to get up to pick up the family from the airport.

This morning (Bank Holiday Monday) dawned with the definite promise of a lovely day in store, and miracle of miracles, I could breathe relatively easily. My lungs were saying, "this is a really bad idea" but my heart was saying "FFS it's SUNNY!!!!!!! What are you doing in here!"

I was almost tempted to do the SHGF route a day late, but partly because it was so long to do by yourself on a warm day, and partly because I had cycled some of it with the ACG a month or so back, I fancied something different.

I had heard of the two tunnels shared path a couple of months ago just before it opened. When it comes to cycling architecture, after a bridge, there is nothing I like more than a tunnel. This path, in Bath, is quite hard to find, but it's well worth it as it has the longest cycle tunnel in the country. So I concocted a route out through the Chew Valley to Keynsham and Saltford, along the river path to Bath and the path, then back via Chewton Mendip and the Gorge.

I got out early too, meaning most of the roads were pretty quiet, and was so relaxed that I forgot to switch Laurens on until I got to Churchill. I quickly shed my gilet and the sun started to beat, yes beat, down, and it was shorts and arm warmers all the way. In Pensford I came across this "ancient monument":

I had absolutely no idea what it is, but Wikipedia came up trumps, describing it as some kind of 18th century prison.

On to the tunnel itself, hard to photograph a dark tunnel, so you will have to make do with the entrances, and the platform by the side of the path just outside it.

From there it was down on a shared dusty path, before back lanes and a main road descent to Radstock. Then on familiar ground. Including the familiar SMIDSY idiots in Cheddar Gorge. Will I ever learn? That place is not a safe place to go downhill on a bike on a Bank Holiday.

Despite all the health issues, I had managed 100km on a warm Spring day. And not too bad for speed (average 15.9 mph) or climbing (about 5500 feet) either. Of course, I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what damage the the dusty fields and tree pollen will have done. But then, there's always steroids if you have a medex form!

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