I’m happy to say that I will be travelling to Scotland this October! The main purpose of this trip will be to attend a clan event and to conduct research for a book I will be writing over the next 6 months. But a couple weeks ago I decided, in the interest of having some blogworthy content, that I should also take the opportunity to do one or two fitness activities during my trip.
One obvious choice would be to climb Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles. At 1344 meters, it is a tough climb, but entirely non-technical (no ropes, more like hill walking). As a bonus my wife and I summited Ben Nevis about 10 years ago so I know I can do it. However, at this point I’m not planning to be near Fort William, the obvious base for any climb of Ben Nevis, and since I have already done it, it’s not really the best fitness challenge. Since I’ll be spending most of my time on the Isle of Skye, its best that I find a fitness challenge on the island.
Until a couple weeks ago, all my fitness activities had been solely for the purpose of losing weight. Other than weight loss, I hadn’t set any real goals to help push me onward. In my post on Setting Fitness Goals I discussed how necessary written goals are for creating benchmarks and measuring your achievement. Also in that post, I announced my intent to cycle the Trotternish Peninsula.
Without much research or planning, I had announced my fitness challenge (something I only decided as I was writing that post!).
I have visited the Isle of Skye on every trip I have made to Scotland, and I usually stay in Portree, the largest city and unofficial capital of Skye, and explore from there. Portree is located on the east coast of Skye at the base of the Trotternish Peninsula. This area of northern Skye is known for the Trotternish landslip, a massive landslide which runs the full 19-mile length of the peninsula. The area is covered in dramatic and unusual rock formations including the Old Man of Storr, the Quirang (pictured below), and Kilt Rock. This course will also take me past Duntulm Castle, the Flora MacDonald Grave in Kilmuir, the port town of Uig, Clach Ard Pictish Symbol Stone, and the ruins of Snizort Cathedral.
In all my trips, I have only driven this proposed course once, and I have never biked any part of it. Taking the A855 and the A87 around the peninsula will be a total of 48.5 miles. The course also has upwards of a 600-foot climb in the opening miles with intermittent climbs and descents afterwards. This seems like a daunting enough challenge that will require a lot of practice and training to work up to that distance.
I know there will be additional challenges, which I can’t yet anticipate. Since most of the ride is coastal, I know there will be winds, jut not how strong they will be. In fact, the weather could end up being more challenging than the distance, since I currently ride in a warm area and haven’t ridden in the rain since college.
In my mind, the process of conditioning for a long-distance bike ride involves a lot of shorter rides. The more I ride, the more ride I’ll be able to handle.
My initial plan was to ride more and more until I achieve the following milestones, which should have me ready for a 50 miler under more adverse conditions by October 1st (with the Trotternish Ride currently scheduled for October 11th):
10 miles by April 1st – Achieved!
20 miles by May 1st – Achieved!
30 miles by June 1st – Achieved!
40 miles by July 1st – Achieved!
45 miles by August 1st – Achieved!
50 miles by September 1st – Achieved!
My longest training ride to date has been 32.46 miles and would have taken well past the half way point of the trek and somewhere on the road descending into Uig.
If you’re tracking my progress, don’t miss the following blog posts with training updates:
Importance of This Goal
The strongest statement I can make is that setting this goal is the best thing I have done for my fitness so far this year. Up until I set this goal, I was satisfied with riding 7-8 miles in 30 minutes or so a couple times a week. Setting this goal has forced me to extend my riding significantly. I’m now to the point that I have decided that I need to ride 5-6 days a week, and that I should never ride less than 10 miles per day. I know with certainty that without this goal, I would still be riding only 5-7 miles per trip. I can also see a noticeable difference in the size and tone of my calves.
So this alone is a statement about how important it is to set goals. When you do, you will push yourself to achieve them!