Of the 3 distances available I managed to complete the 71 mile middle one. I had intended to go for the full 104 miles but a couple of offs, a puncture and the course being a lot more difficult than I’d anticipated meant that I’d run out of time at the point at which I needed to make a decision about final distance. I didn’t think I was going quick enough to complete the 104 miles before the cut off so I opted for the middle distance instead. I figured that volunteers that had been standing around since 6am could do without hanging on past the 5.30 pm cut off for me to cruise in in my own time. Being realistic I’m not sure I could have gone the distance anyway, regardless of how much time I had.
I knew it wasn’t going to be my day when the chain was jumping between gears in the first few miles when I wasn’t touching the gear lever. Luckily a race official came past as I was trying to work out what was going on and he managed to sort it out in no time. It stayed fine for the rest of the day. The weather throughout was truly hideous and there was no way of staying dry doing a 7hr plus cycle in driving rain. I’d definitely underestimated how hard the course would be (despite it being billed as the hardest…), the hills were something else. My first off came when I just didn’t have any more in me to keep going up a steep incline. Wearing clip on shoes meant that when I stopped so did the bike, so over I went and landed in a ditch at the side of the road. The second off was a similar hill induced mishap. Getting cramp in both legs when you’re clipped in doesn’t help your case much either! Both times I came off the bike I was going painfully slowly so I didn’t damage myself or the bike.
My cycle computer also had a hissy fit in the first ten miles so I had no idea what time it was or how far or fast I was going. As it turned out not fast enough! I’d aimed for an average speed of 10mph but at lot of the time I was pleased if I hit this figure at all (cycle computer started working again later on). I did of course make up some time on the descents but the speed I was going unnerved me as much as the hills I had to cycle up did. On one particularly steep descent I hit a pot hole and punctured the front tyre. Inconvenient though this was I was just happy to stay on the bike and keep control. What I wasn’t so happy about was what I kneeled in as I changed my inner tube (not my day at all). I did manage to get it sorted pretty quickly and was glad I’d taken the advice from a websites I’d looked at prior to the event about packing a few spares.
Overall I think this has been my toughest challenge to date despite doing a shorter distance than the one I intended. My body has never hurt so much and my mind has never suffered from so many soul destroying hills (I’ll probably have nightmares about falling over on them tonight). That being the case the event was superbly organised and the volunteers involved did a cracking job. I’m sure I’ll be back again for another go. Even it’s it’s just to see these again:
Not sure if they are scarier or this: