With a total of just over 5,400km now completed in my virtual challenge, I would be continuing my path through northern Argentina and once again covering ground that my trusty hybrid bike and I have actually been across.
The distances this week split down like this:
This would have me arriving at the town of Cafayate, an important tourist centre for exploring the Calchaquíes valleys, and renowned for the quality and originality of the wines produced in the area. I remember the bike ride across this arid region well for the searing heat and challenging hills, but also the stunning landscape with features like La Garganta del Diablo (Devils Throat).
In fact this region is so passionate about it's wine production that I remember taking this photo on the left below almost in disbelief that in the middle of nowhere (and desperately thirsty) the only refreshments available from this little outlet was yes, you guessed it, wine! Probably one of the few times in my life I have turned down a glass of red...
Unlike back in the real world where I felt it was only fitting that I have a steak and glass of Malbec to celebrate my entry to Argentina! (Ok, most of the plate seems on reflection to be taken over by chips and onion rings, but there was actually a big bike ride ahead of me the next day, honest).
Speaking of food (never far from my mind). Ian introduced me this week to what might become one of my favourite breakfasts. Both being fans of overnight oats and porridge, he had ordered some oats from a new company who had a range of naturally flavoured oats with themes like Maple and Pecan, or Cinnamon Bun. The breakfast choice for this day was Cherry Bakewell flavour and the manufacturers also suggest a baked oats recipe. Something I hadn't tried before but it involved soaking the oats in yoghurt and an egg and then baking in the oven. Sounded healthy! Ian pimped it up with some flaked almonds and a spoon of cherry conserve.....mmmm...possibly now slightly resembling a dessert but definitely fuelled me up for a hilly ride in the Chilterns!
And just to prove it, see below for a snippet of a certain Cat 4 hill that I have been practicing on Ian's 'old jalopy' mountain bike ahead of an event I am going to do. This you will be glad to hear is just over a minute of the footage of the 15min climb that features three times on the event course, eek. But I still attempt to channel a bit of
M People. Oh and the angle is because the GoPro is on my wrist, I am not actually falling off the bike...
It was timely then that one of the people I am coaching just now asked me this week "How do you stay so strong, you never seem to have a bad day?" It might seem that way, but I definitely do have days when I feel like it takes me all my effort to do a session. But mainly I remind myself how good I will feel afterwards, and think about a goal I am working towards. My latest session was a good example - tasked with doing a 2km swim followed immediately afterwards by a three and a half hour interval bike ride I was wondering how to logistically do this in central London. Of course my swim would be in the Serpentine, but the bike, how to do that without traffic interfering with it? Well after my swim it seemed obvious, I am no stranger to Regents Park laps, so why not do similar around Hyde Park? There were many combinations there and the added challenge of some more inclines and headwinds, but seeing my favourite lido on the way round definitely kept me going. It's funny the other things that keep you going like "Well I can have a drink in another 15 minutes time...and then a little snack 15 minutes after that". It's the simple things.
Something else that definitely keeps me going is music, I love a power song and some go-to favourite artists have to be the likes of Sia or Pink. But I also remembered a great musical moment from a few years ago that I have shared with a few people this week. This was when I was delivering an awards event for the children's mental health charity Place2Be (in the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge, excuse the major name drop!) They like to have a school choir at their events, but logistically that was going to be difficult at the venue. Enter a suggestion from a school outside Edinburgh, who had been working on a song called 'Stronger'. I challenge you not to be won over by this little troupe - a great message and a definite ear worm! Keep an eye out especially for the wee boy on the far right in the glasses who melts my heart. Over 23,000 YouTube views can't be wrong...
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.