Training, more training, we need soooo much more training. This weekend we tried to up our game and so we went for a 44km walk (aiming at 50k, but failed!). We took the Bristol And Bath Railway Path, as it had been recommended by a few friends, as a great cycling route.
I shall start with a few practical information about the route, so not to bore those of you, who aren’t interested in our training to the JCC 100k Ultra Challenge.
Bristol and Bath Cycling Path – practical info
The Railway Cycling Path from Bristol to Bath (or from Bath to Bristol!) has a distance of about 13-15 miles or 21-24 km (depending on, which information board to believe – the one at the beginning of the route from Bristol states 15, and the one in Bath – 13!).
We decided to walk the path, as part of our training to the 100k Action Challenge. The route is well prepared for cyclists – a concrete path leads through the outskirts of the city and quiet fields … I would say it could be quite relaxing walk if not for … the cyclists! 😉 As it is quite busy and popular route.
We started at St. Philips Road in Bristol (BS2 0JZ), from Newton Park. And we marched on through Mangotsfield, Warmley and Saltford ending in charming Bath.
Route Marking at the Bristol and Bath Railway Path – it’s impossible to get lost!
The entire route is extremely well marked, so it’s impossible to get lost. At Bristol, there are signs painted on the path, then throughout the route there are plenty of signs, both the standard information ones (white on blue) and some more artistic ones! The artistic ones had been especially useful as provide distance from the point of the sign to both Bath and Bristol.
Part of the route runs along the railway tracks (hence the name Bath And Bristol Railway Path). During our walk we passed an infinite number of overpasses, some decorated, several old platforms, which had once been in use. And also a number of sculptures (including the drinking giant – which although quite big, didn’t impress us that much), murals and other artistic touches that add charm to the whole route.
Bicycle route from Bristol to Bath – top 3 attractions
- Almost half-kilometer tunnel (takes about 5 minutes to walk through it) – it has a great ambience, lit enough to walk through freely. Having said that, I would not like to be there alone, probably even during the day … brr! On our way back there was a slight mist floating in the tunnel. And you could feel a temperature dropping. A cool spot … especially for Halloween!
- Bitton Railway Station – where some old locomotives & carriages are parked up. There is also a cafe. Whilst we were passing by, there was a train leaving the station – as I found out later, it is an attraction. The train travels a distance of approx. 3 miles. And in the season, there is an option to have an Afternoon Tea whilst on the train.
- Warmley Station – another adapted, old railway station, with a cafe shop, toilets (besides this and the two other points on the route, you will be condemned to the nature).
The route is practically flat, so no risk of running out of breath whilst trying to climb a steep hill! It is also convenient if you go with a pram or on a wheelchair.
If you don’t fancy covering the Bristol to Bath Railway Path in full, I strongly recommend focusing on the first few miles, starting from Bristol towards Bath. It is by far most exciting part and filled with the above mentioned attractions. Gone past Saltford, where you can stop for a pub lunch, there is not much happening… the road is still nice and takes you through the fields. But, if you walk, it might get monotonous.
Click here for the link to the official leaflet with a map of the cycle route from Bristol to Bath.
Dave – 80-year-old cyclist
We are always extremely lucky to meet interesting people during our strolls, walks and escapades. A year ago, we met Tessa and Bryan – both very inspiring and warm, with loads and loads of life wisdom. You can meet them in first episode of our VLOG. We keep in touch to this day and now they are like grandparents to us!
This time we met Dave, an elderly gentleman on a bike. As it turned out Dave is keeping active and is a member of the Veteran-Cycle Club. He even had a cute little pin with club’s logo, attached to his hat. Dave also organises and participates in bicycle tours, around Bristol and surrounding areas.
When we told him about our 100k challenge, he told us about his achievements. One of which was a 25-mile race, which had to be completed in 10h. Dave used to finish it in 5h whilst carrying 40 pounds in his backpack!
He told us to continue walking until we reach 100 (years of age!). Because the most important thing is to always be active! You’ve heard it – we are told, so no excuses – butts off the couch and go for a walk or a cycle ride!
Training to 100k Challenge – Lessons Learned
Our training walk from Bristol to Bath at the Railway Path was great, although it felt like we were walking forever. It took us a total of 11 hours (44km – there and back). I definitely recommend this route, but if walking, I suggest picking a part of it, due to the hard surface.
It might be matter of shoes – we went in our trekking boots, which combined with the tarmac, caused a lot of pain … I dare to think that if I walked another few kilometers, I would have come back with flat feet!
I guess it is fair to say that we had rushed for such a distance too soon, especially that during the past two weeks we haven’t had trained that much. Any training guides I saw, do warn that you shouldn’t increase the distance by more than 10-20% every week. We were smarter … and pretty much doubled our distance. Dominik would have easily walked another 10k if not for my moaning! But I hit the mental barrier, with each step causing ultra-pain. My feet, my knee, thighs and hips … all in pain. I didn’t feel fatigue as such, but the pain grew. And the vision of the next few miles ahead of us was cruelly depressing. Especially that we didn’t seem to be moving forwards at all. Dominik was telling me – “just couple more hours” on average every half an hour. It worked for some time, but then, with the sounds of a thunder in the background, I thought we had done quite enough for one day. And so I gave up!
- We need to verify our food intake during the walk.
- We must drink a lot more – walking first half we barely drank a small bottle of water each. I think we had focused on completing the route too much, without paying attention to keeping the fluid levels up
- We need to train more regularly. With 50-odd days to go, we need to stop skipping training sessions. It is not easy with busy dairies, but now that we had committed to it – we must give it our best. Luckily, there still is some time to adjust our efforts.
- We need to create a pack list – as we keep on forgetting things. Yesterday we forgot USB cables to charge our phones, sunscreen (thankfully, it was not too hot) and sunglasses! Perhaps a few other bits that we didn’t realised we forgot.
Another 53 days to the big day – 100k Jurassic Coast Ultra Challenge… Last weekend events make me think that maybe it’s a good thing, that I got my bum kicked – a cold shower, a call to action! Let’s see if this will keep me charged for long enough!
If you are curious to know why we are even bothering with a such a big challenge – take a look at here