Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Challenge Day 2 : 20 mile cycle, 25 miles down 180 to go


    20.5 mile cycle, 1:51:43, Calories 753
    Total 25.7 miles,  3:27:13, Calories 1533
    Distance to go: 180 miles, on schedule
    Countries honoured: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia*, Austria*,
    Azerbaijan, Bahamas*, Bangladesh, Barbados, Burundi, Belgium*, Belize,  
    Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bahrain, Botswana 
    (* denotes countries we've visited in our travels)

I awoke at 6am and after half an hour knew I wasn't getting back to sleep with the light seeping through the blinds, so decided to get in some miles before the rest of the family awoke.   My right calf was still tender so it was to dust of the mountain bike, oil the chain, pump up the tires and head out for my longest cycle in 10 months. 

My mountain bike doesn't get too much love when I'm not injured and able to run, while biking is fun it just isn't ingrained in my soul like running is.  The lack of time on the bike also means that I'm close to as slow a cyclist as I am a swimmer.  As I'm planning to do a Olympic distance Triathlon as part of Olympic Challenge it does make sense to put some miles in on the bike as practice, it's also a gentle work out for my strained calf and allows me to get back on schedule to do the full 205 miles over the 17 days of the Olympics.

The sky was overcast and light rain was falling when I set off at 7am for a circuit around Loch Venachar and Loch Achray.  As often is the case with days like this, even an overcast sky doesn't take away from the beauty of Trossachs, the clouds bring their own contrasts of lighting, perspectives and dynamics to the mountains.  Along the route I stopped a couple of times to take photo's, first is of the trail through the forest along the south side of Loch Venachar:

After leaving the shores of Loch Venchar you head across meadow to Loch Achray and get rewarded with great views of Ben Venue ahead to the west, Ben 'An to northwest:

 Along the south shore of Loch Achray you get some loverly framed views of Ben 'An and Trossachs church that has done many a postcard:

At mile 10 one leaves the trails and joins the road that leads back along the north shores of Loch Achray and Loch Venachar back to Callander.  Too many tourist buses negotiate this little road to stop and take photo's so I just got my head down and got home just before 9am.  It may have been drizzling for half the ride but such a loverly route you can't helped be cheered by the excursion.

Last time I did this route was back in August 2011, then I did it as a tempo cycle and did it in 1:38 so today's time of 1:51 was rather sedimentary.  Recovery from the calf niggle and enjoying my time out is my priority so very happy to take it easy.  The gentle ride looks have done the trick, my calf this afternoon has been much more comfortable, both less tender to touch and far more comfortable when doing stretches.

Tomorrow is the Callander Highland Games Hill Race, my only organized race during my Olympic Challenge.  Racing while doing an multi-day endurance challenge is risky, especially when one has a niggle, so I'll not race flat out.

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