LEJOGLE 2020 – Post ride reflections

It’s now around 3 weeks since the rollercoaster of LEJOGLE came to an end, and my range of thoughts and emotions since have also had lots of peaks and troughs.

Return to Lands End

On the last day, to say I was struggling was an understatement. On Day 10, and getting over the Severn Bridge, I knew that I had just over 200 miles to go. In my original planning, this was just a day’s ride, around 16 hours on the road. I made the decision to sleep as long as possible and then do a major push to the end, even if that involved naps along the way. I still hoped that by riding through the night I might be able to reach Lands End in the early hours the following day. I will explain in more detail why this didn’t come to fruition in another post specifically about the ride, but one thing was sure, I was ready for it to be over. I was already so far behind my schedule, and I was done mentally, despite my legs still not being broken yet.

The last 60 miles were so painfully slow, and I was back to riding alone, in the rain, falling asleep with a very tender pressure sore. Motorbike Steve tried his best to keep me motivated, but I know that he was probably fighting his own battle of exhaustion. It can’t be easy following a cyclist whose speeds had slowed to a crawl for 24 hours on a big motorbike.

I stopped at McDonalds in Hayle for a comfort break and was met by another cyclist who had offered to guide me through a flatter route through Hayle. Having someone near by to talk to was just what I need to wake me up, since 4 Red Bulls hadn’t managed all day.

Approaching Penzance, more riders joined me for the home straight, including my son, who had initially planned of riding the whole last leg with me. The changes to my schedule and the lateness of my arrival had changed lots of peoples plans who had hoped to join me. My mood, and my alertness conintued to rise as the time passed, and you get something of a second wind knowing that the end is in sight.

The emotions of arriving at Lands End just as the sun was setting are indescribable and somehow fitting. Sunset is when I am most at peace, it’s when I sort my head out. I have chased sunsets right through my training, and so it was just the perfect ending.

For some reason I didn’t cry. I thought I would, but I didn’t. The tears would come a few days later. But that did mean that I was able to enjoy the moment. Being seen to the end with friends, family and people that I had only met an hour or so before was amazing. My 15 minutes of fame.

Winding down

Since it was already Thursday evening, I decided to stay in Cornwall with my family for a couple of days, and then take a slow road trip style trip home, visiting friends along the way. Del went home on Friday with the dogs, and I kept hold of Dora for the road trip.

I had a good catch up call with Coach T, who asked the inevitable question, “when are you going to do it again?”. At the time the answer was easy, I was not going to try again as nothing else could possible compare that that experience. And I still believe that comparison will hold true. I guess it’s a bit like your first love. It was a unique, and unrepeatable experience. My journey, became the journey for hundreds, maybe even thousands of other people who somehow felt compelled to watch my dot travel up and down the country. I felt completely humbled by the kindness of strangers coming out to cheer me through, even in the middle of the night. I am forever indebted to the riders who joined me for a few miles, despite the craziness of the hour, and those that guided me through their towns and so much more.

I did an interview with my local radio station, and updated my local newspaper too. I was very much in demand for the next few days. The minor celebrity status continued, but I admit, I did enjoy it.

When my grandchildren arrived on Saturday, they were all smiles, happy to see Nanny, but underwhelmed by my ride. This meant a very quick and welcome return to normality. We had dog walks and cuddles, something I’ve missed so much of since Covid. This was only the second time I had seen them since the New Year.

Back to work

It was back to work with a bump on Monday, but at least I wasn’t focussing on my next training ride, just getting evidence together in case Guinness decided to allow my time to be considered. I had contacted them on Friday and put my case, and now it was a case of waiting for the standard 2 weeks before a reply. Deep down I thought that with this being a rather unusual year they might just decide in my favour. But there’s always that jiggling doubt in your mind.

Gradually though as the next week or so went on, I started to feel the emptiness creeping in, which was a little unexpected. After all, I was involved in getting the Virtual LEJOGLE up and running, and that was still keeping me busy. I had kept off my bike for a week, and had found that when I next got back on, my legs appeared completely recovered. To be honest, I think that’s when my mood and emotions about the ride started to change.

What if?

I began reflecting on peoples questions and comments. “You must be exhausted”, “I bet you’re glad to be off the bike for a while?”, “How is your recovery going?”, and then of course Coach T’s big question, “When are you going to try again”? He knows me well now, and he knows that I wouldn’t have been happy with over 11 days for this ride. He didn’t say anything….but he knew!

And coach was right, I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t that I was unhappy that that it took me over 11 days, the problem was the reasons why. The fact that I recovered so quickly meant that I had more to give, or more importantly, that I could have done it so much quicker. My legs didn’t let me down. In fact it plays on my mind a lot that it wasn’t really physical factors that let me down time wise.

I simply wasn’t organised enough for everything that wasn’t specific to the actual cycling part. My support was 1 man – my long suffering husband, who was driver, mechanic, chef, laundryman, social media secretary, videographer and records keeper. It was just way too much to expect him to be able to do for any length of time effectively. And, as the ride progressed, I found it difficult to decide what food I found palatable, which piled yet more responsibility on him as he added ‘finding food that Marcia wants to eat’ to his ever growing list of duties.

Dora the support van (husband is hiding)

When I wasn’t consuming enough calories for the ride, so my ‘faff’ factor went up. When I’m tired or lacking energy I find a million excuses to stop peddling, stopping a lot more often, and that in turn meant that each leg was taking me so much longer than it should have done. When I had a good meal, things would right themself for a while.

With the extra time spent on the road, there was less time for sleep, although even when I gave myself more time, I was usually wide awake 3 or 4 hours later. Eventually sleep deprivation hit and it became harder and harder to stay awake. Especially during the final hours of the ride.

Napping at 3:30am on Severn Bridge

So…..what if?

  • What if I had two vehicles with me for the whole trip?
  • What if those two vehicles each had 2 crew?

And,

  • What if one of those crew members was responsible for simply keeping me fed?

Well, I am still planning on riding the Race Around the Netherlands in May next year, which means I will be training right through the winter, so, maybe, just maybe I’ll remain fit enough to give this another go.

Next summer seems like a long time away, but I think I have unfinished business….

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