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Thursday, March 9, 2017

How to Lose a Belly When You're 42 (part 25) Mad March Hare 2017

As far as my training is concerned, this week has been a complete disaster. It all began with washing my trainers...

I'd washed my running trainers over the weekend and put them in the airing cupboard to dry. When I got home on Monday, I got changed into my running gear ready for my 10K. Unfortunately, when I went to put my trainers on, they were still wet! I didn't fancy running 6 miles in wet shoes so I decided to complete a weight session instead.  I was running out of time (I cook for the family on Mondays) so I rushed into my lifting program...and twinged my back muscles good and proper!
After much swearing, I gave up and cracked a beer...

Tuesday was Maisie's birthday so we took her out for dinner. Beer and cake followed. I didn't have time to go to my karate lesson.

And so it continued...No exercise but plenty of beer throughout the week.
I can't train on Wednesdays because I don't get home until 9:30 after 13 hours at work.

I could have trained on Thursday after the D&D game but the motivation wasn't there.

I had to miss my karate lesson on Friday because my brother arrived from London. It's the first time I've seen him this year.
Being slightly mad, he had decided to cycle up from London on his road bike! He cycled around 120 miles in the rain and by the time he got here he had no brake pads left. He was braking with his foot on the road! He was very cold and exhausted. Lucy did a grand job of looking after him.

On Saturday it was Maisie's birthday party at the bowling alley! There were about 15 of us there and needless to say it involved cake and beer...
I'd already picked up the numbers for the Mad March Hare.
Sid and I stayed up late to watch the Haye and Bellew fight.
This was undoubtedly the worst preparation for the MMH that I'd ever done.

On Sunday morning, the weather was awful. Torrential cold rain and a strong wind. It was horrible. We were cold and wet as soon as we stepped out of the car. There were 7 of us in total: Fast Ant, Alvechurch Pete, Ian, Nigel, my bother Sid, Uncle Jonnie and me. It was unthinkable to stand there and introduce everyone, so I encouraged the lads to make a start and I'd chat to them in the lanes. After Sid and Jonnie both dropped their chains in the first few metres, 1 mile later, disaster: my first puncture on the Specialized.
My brother very kindly stopped to help me out, the other lads were already ahead and didn't know I'd punctured. The most immediate problem we had was that our hands were too cold for the job! With hardly any feeling in our fingers, it made for slow progress. Eventually, we had the tube in, tyre back on and pumped up. However, disaster struck again when we tried to detach the pump: we pulled the valve out with it! The pump was now useless...
We got the second tube in and tyre back on and then flagged down a rider to use his pump. He made it quite obvious that he wasn't impressed so we let him go. We then flagged down three nice blokes who let us use their pump and eventually, after 25 freezing minutes standing the rain, we were on our way again - our friends at least 5 or 6 miles up the road...
We noticed that my brother's bike was making some horrible noises as we struggled along. I think we would have paid more attention to this had we not been so distracted by our own suffering. After about 11 miles, Sid had to stop to change into his spare gloves. Trouble was, his hands were so cold that he couldn't get his fingers in properly. He had to pull the gloves over his balled fists and wait for them to warm up. Another 15 or 20 minutes went by (I consumed a banana and sip of brandy) until we were back on the road. 
After a while, we realised that it had stopped raining. Then, Sid pointed out some blue sky in the west! Things were looking up!
The first serious climb we got to was the Croft Lane steep bit in Haselor. It even had a photographer at the top. My brother and I were climbing side by side when  a lorry started coming up behind us. Sid put some pressure on the pedals to accelerate past me and immediately dropped his chain. It was obvious that he couldn't continue - there was no way he would be able to nurse his bike through the Cotswolds climbs. We turned and headed for Wilmcote.

As far as we got - That's me in blue and Sid in silver trying to get his chain back on. (Apologies to Sportivephoto for theft of the pic!)

After tea, cake and a change of socks and gloves, I set off back to the car and Sid and his sickly bicycle were driven home by Jane and Eric. My ride back started off as a lovely experience under warming sunny skies. I considered turning back and trying to complete the course, but I was already being overtaken by riders on their way back from the Cotswolds! The troubles started when I got to Ullenhall: I thought I'd be able to follow the signs back to the startline but they'd already been removed. I decided to make my own way, a quicker way, back to the car...
I ended up on a broken, muddy descent called Wapping Lane. Unfortunately, this route didn't lead anywhere apart from to a steep mud track that was impossible to ride and would have been a nightmare to walk up with a bike. I turned around and found my way on to the A435. 
To make things worse, I had suddenly developed really, really bad stomach cramps. At one point I stopped to be sick, but I couldn't. The pain was coming up from my belly in waves, spreading out through my chest and into my armpits. I felt awful. I struggled on at a pitiful 12mph until I found myself clambering into the car. I had covered a grand total of 43 miles.
I got home still in a lot of pain, but as soon as I had walked around for a minute or two, and Lucy had put a beer in my hand, the pain had gone away!
Lucy thinks it was a mixture of frustration, anger and disappointment that had made my stomach knot up. I was definitely stressed about letting Jonnie, Nigel, Ant and Ian down. 
As it turns out, Nigel, the only sensible rider in our group, gave up at Stratford because he was soaking wet and very, very cold.  I'm pleased to report that the other lunatics had made it: Ian, Jonnie, Ant and Pete. Unfortunately, Jonnie had lost the group early on and had ridden the Mad March Hare solo! Big respect to Jonnie, he was certainly the hero of the day.

So, I've ridden the Mad March Hare 6 times and completed it 5 of those times. If anything, the experience has made me more determined: I will ride it next year, and I will complete it.