Some days things just aren't destined to go your way. It doesn't matter how well prepared you are life throws you a curve ball and your plans fall apart. Today was a day like that. It was my intention to tackle the four climbs on Dartmoor starting with Rundlestone. About a mile and a half into the ride my right knee packed up. I've had a wonky knee ever since a car accident when I was 18 left me with a knee the size of a football and lots of deep bruising to the soft tissue surrounding the joint. It hasn't been the same since and every now and then I'll get an ache or even a sharp pain through it. A bit of rest usually lets it clear up. If it occurs when I'm out cycling I can usually change the cadence of my pedalling or shift my position about a bit to take the strain off. I always use clipless pedals with lots of lateral float as a result and normally get by OK.
Today however was different. No matter what I tried the pain wouldn't go away and only got worse and I started going slower and slower as a result. I knew I was going slowly when an elderly gent on a heavy looking hybrid caught up with me. He at least had the good grace to complain about the strengthening head wind as he passed and then dropped me on the climb. I continued climbing for another mile or so but trying to pedal uphill with my left leg doing most of the work into a strong head wind meets my definition of stupid and, in order to avoid completely knackering my knee, I felt I should stop. A macho all out push to the summit would have been a dramatic and possibly more satisfying tactic to follow but I still have quite a few rides to tackle and I'd rather live to ride another day. Annoyingly I was probably quite close to the to top when I bailed. I say probably as the weather had started to turn and low cloud obscured the higher ground so it was a job to tell how far I still had to go.
The descent back down to Tavistock where I'd left the car confirmed that the day was one where nothing was going to go my way when my chain unshipped itself at about 35 – 40 miles an hour. I can only assume my bike handling skills are better than I previously thought as I was somehow able to avoid face planting in heavy traffic.
I won't say that I'm gutted or devastated by the failure to complete the rides I had planned because I'm not. Dartmoor isn't going anywhere and I'll be back to finish the job in the near future. I'll probably spend the next two weeks resting my knee and doing a few light rides and finish off Dartmoor on the 12th May. It is more annoying than anything else as it will knock my timetable for taking on the rides in the Midlands and Wales out of whack.
On a more positive note Rundlestone should, on a good day, be a decent ride and hopefully I'll have better weather when I go back. I've also learnt that the organic food and hemp loving residents of Tavistock drive like savages as they race to complete their Saturday morning shop so I'll make sure that I start the ride very early next time.
The third sign my day was not going to go as planned came as I drove home to North Devon. I got stuck behind a tractor. A tractor towing another tractor. If nothing else it did help redefine my idea of what slow really is...
I'll be back Dartmoor.