Day 8: Battling the relentless rain

Having a comfortable bed, I set of quite refreshed, but my legs were aching from the day before, and were quite stiff. I started the day with a Spanish cooked by my friend David and we started packing everything.

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Eventually we set off after the amusement of there cleaners, and I took him to engineering to meet another friend who is studying a PHD. It’s nice to swap over passengers and Olli seemed thrilled to be a passenger on a short excursion through campus – even paying his way with a bit of food! I was starting to become overloaded with food I remakred.

I went down the Warwick – Kenilworth Cycle path and had to bid farewell to my friend. I got to the end of the cycle path and reaching the end between a road intersection, I could pass. The wheel hubs were obstructing the way. Two women and their children looked with curiosity and amusement and soon wanted to help see if we could squeeze it through the narrow gap. It wasn’t really happening and after about ten minutes of trying there wasn’t any breakthrough to disappoint us all.

I turned back and headed the more direct route towards Leamington Spa, with one hill just outside towards Leamington Spa. It was a familiar route that I have done hundreds of times, but will this be the last? My energy levels hadn’t picked up by then, so I decided to make a cocktail of sugar, sugar and more sugar. Not the most healthiest option, but it was a drink consisting of malto-dextrose and fructose to give me a jolt. It helped a bit.

I got to Leamington Spa and the weather started to turn. I didn’t particularly fancy staying even if there were a few interested glances on the road. By now, it was raining and it was becoming very cold. So cold I decided to put on gloves, scarf, and the baselayer – you wouldn’t think this was September. I could visibly see my breath.

I set off again, wearing my waterproofs including my very waterproof custom made cycling cape.

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It was tough going but I felt dry underneath even with the heavy showers. Unfortunatly no-one really battered an eye lid at my courage to take on these dreadful conditions. Perhaps I expect too much.

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The journey was hill but was manageable in most parts. The route headed towards Gaydon, where Jaguar and Land Rover, and Aston Martin are based. Afterwards there is a steep hill to traverse over the Costwolds. I knew this was coming, I just couldn’t remember where. I was suspended in a state of fear. I wasn’t sure if I could get it up the steep hill that I knew had a gradient above 10%.

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The rain continued and never showed a sign of easing. Eventually I reached the hill I was dreading or so I thought. This was a precursor and was only a short 10%. Even then I had to stop several times in the lowest gear.

About a mile later I came to the dreadful hill – which was 11% and of more substanial length.

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That would put fear into most cyclists – now just imagine doing that in a rickshaw. Much of the afternoon was filled with a cloud of doubt; my trip wasn’t going to well especially with the weather and I have to admit there were many thoughts of packing it all in.

What kept me going? The idea of going home, and having no idea what I’d do with myself or getting a job. That was a strong motivator. However, I wouldn’t want to disappoint all the people who are supporting and watching me – especially so early in the day.

That hill was one of the pivotal moments in that trip. It took alot of tenacity and strength to take it on. It was filled with alot of motion unbelievable for something so unsubstantial. However, if I couldn’t get up that silly hill, I knew it would be game-over. I would indulge myself in excuses which spiral out of control from there. I started and stopped atleast ten times – zig-zagging in places to try and ease my way up. I grimmaced and clenched the handlebars and gave it all.

All this may sound over-the-top but it’s one of those moments you wished I’d recorded.

I reached the top. I couldn’t believe it. I managed to beat that demon pestering me.

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All way from there was downhill towards Banbury. My feet were soaking, and my hands felt like sponges, and all clothes were soggy but I got into Banbury and for the rest of the evening sat in Wetherspoons to dry out.

It’s dark now, and I have no place to sleep. It’s going to be interesting as I cannot particularly be bothered to set up my tent. Sleeping in the rickshaw, that might be another first!