This year's race was a very messy affair with several casualties on the course. Two runners were hit by and motor bike (I saw the after effects of this one) and a bike reportedly hit by a car on the early stages of the ride. The organisers took the respectful decision to cancel the prize ceremony in view of this.
The other notable injury was to Darrin's pride and navigation skills when he rode past the route marker and headed into Bodmin for a spot of shopping before rejoining the race. This apparently confused several riders who he overtook for a second time having gapped them once on the opening climb.
A good club turnout and several would be podiums had it taken place.
Darrin Porter 01:31:19 9th Overall
Will Hutchins 01:40:42 31st Overall
Mark King 01:41:44 34th Overall and 1st Male 50-59
Jackie Swift 01:52:03 75th Overall and 3rd Female 50-59
Michaela Holley 02:00:14 99th Overall
Kathryn Osborn 02:04:57 114th Overall
Barry Drew 02:12:23 132nd Overall and 3rd Male 60+
Deloitte Ride Across Britain
Saturday 8th to Saturday 16th September.
Day 1 0530hrs- It is our 11th wedding anniversary and I am lying in a single tent at Lands End being woken by the sounds of Freddy Mercury's 'I want to ride by bicycle' played over loudspeaker . We had chosen to arrive at the first base camp the previous evening and had already sampled the excellent food on offer, both in quality and quantity .We had also heard the first of the evening briefings where short descriptions of the following days ride would be given. The use of the word 'grippy' had been given its first airing in describing the hills of Cornwall.
The start gate was open between 7am and 8am and our start time depended on how long I had to wait for Paul that particular morning. Leaving on the first day we hit sea mist almost immediately which lasted until beyond Marazion.It did mean that we couldn't see the first few hills, although there were nothing but mere pimples compared with what was to follow. Wind was also easterly, not what we wanted.
First pit stop was as Bissoe Bike hire after 32 miles (via Relubbus and Black Rock ). For the first few days queues at the pit stop tended to be lengthy ,for food, water and PowerAde. However the amount of food could not be faulted with usually sandwiches, crisps, chocolate and a sweet snack such as flapjack or Eccles cakes.
From there the ride went into Truro and along the Ladock valley to turn up right from Ladock itself, the first example of a grippy hill. From there we seemed to go constantly up and down via Nanpean ,Roche and then Lanhydrock where I really wished I had a triple or compact chain set on my bike rather than more traditional gearing (39/25).2nd Pit stop somewhere around 75 miles at Doublebois before the final section of the day climbing up yet more hills to the edge of Bodmin moor ,across to Launceston and finally to Okehampton.By then the 600 or so riders had thinned out considerably and we were extremely relieved to have finished the first day of 110miles in mostly glorious sunshine.
Day 2- 49th birthday today and a 110mile ride from Okehampton to Bath uni. First few miles very undulating then an extremely long steep climb on the Quantock hills. Final major climb of the day was Cheddar Gorge. We had ridden this previously in the Tour of Wessex but this time it was going to be after about 85 miles already in the legs. Also it was on a Sunday so very much a case of trying to dodge the odd pedestrian or avoiding the tail back of traffic. Final climb into Bath and the welcome prospect of a proper bed for the night. First massage provided by Birmingham physio students was very welcome, only 15 minutes but as these were offered on alternate days the poor students had to work incredibly hard with often 25 subjects each afternoon/evening. Another easterly wind.
Day 3 -Bath to Ludlow Racecourse. Long hill down into the Centre of Bath to be followed by an extremely grippy climb back out. We rode across the Severn Bridge and had the first pit stop at Chepstow Castle, around 34 miles. Another long climb of about 5 miles but not too steep took us to the 2nd pit stop at 66 miles. Arrived at Ludlow after 99 miles (shortest ride of the Tour) and spent rest of afternoon reading ,drinking coffee and eating endless cakes.
Day 4- Ludlow to Haydock race course. Managed to set off earlier at 0710hrs but colder (9 degrees to start) ,few showers during day and NW wind so hard work despite this being the 'flattest ' day. Pit stops at 25 and 67 miles. Rode some of the way with a group which made it much easier. 107 miles. Started to rain heavily during the evening. Had the most painful massage ever in my life as the girl worked hard on knots in my tight calves.
Day 5- Haydock to Penrith- First 31 miles were extremely urban with endless sets of traffic lights all in the pouring rain. On the whole the drivers were extremely patient with huge lines of cyclists undertaking and overtaking in an effort to make some progress. After the 2 pit stops we arrived in Kendall where the streets were thronged in people waiting for cyclists, not us but the Tour Of Britain that was due to pass in the opposite direction. It did mean we had to stop for the temporary road closure but allowed us to see Wiggo et al pass after they had come down from Shap Fell. We were about to ride it in the harder direction with a very strong head wind. The 8 miles of Shap was more of a grind with the steepest section nearer the top. However I was looking forward to riding down the otherside. Due to the head wind though this felt no easier than the grind up. With 16 miles to go the Para Olympian Sarah Storey rode past so we attached ourselves to her train and allowed her to tow us to the finish- well she was only riding the one day. 104 miles for the day took us to our base camp in a forest. Unfortunately the heavy rain meant it was water logged.
Day 6- Penrith to Hamilton Race Course- Only 6 degrees when we started today. First 15 miles were lovely, gradually downhill and even seemed to have a tail wind. Crossed the border into Scotland at Gretna. Temperature did go up to 13 degrees but felt much colder. Hills felt draggy and it was drizzly at times. Pit stops at 33 and 69 miles. Managed to get with a group for the last 15 miles and arrived at Hamilton around same time as the baggage lorries. Whilst waiting for massage I heard the rumour that the next day's ride of 127 miles was going to be longer because of a landslide. Deep joy. This was confirmed at the briefing although we were told that actually this meant that one of the long climbs would now be cut out. The other worrying factor was the weather forecast of gales and it sounded as if the top of the marquee would take off whilst the briefing was being delivered. The organisers stated they would open the start of the next day's ride at 6am instead of 7am to give the slower rides a chance of being able to complete it and they were also putting on an extra 2 pit stops over the 135 mile stage. Sleep was difficult that night due to the sound of the wind.
Day 7 -Hamilton to Fort William- Set off in the rain and an extremely strong head wind. First pit stop at 35 miles and then had to stop again not long after this due to a puncture. Next official stops at 71 miles and 95 miles. Then it was the long slog up over Glencoe. However the wind strength and direction was such that going down the other side was still a slog. Final pit stop was at 116 miles with supporters saying only 19 flat miles to go. Thankfully around 15 to go we suddenly had abit of a tail wind to help us on our way.135 miles, 9 and a half hours cycling, longest ride ever.
Day 8-Fort William to Kyle of Sunderland- Started off around 0720 with drizzle and rolling hills. At 28 miles was a truly grippy long hill which forced many people using compacts to walk. Then followed a fantastic descent to the first pit stop at 38 miles. More downhill to follow alongside Loch Ness with a tail wind (finally !).
Into Inverness and my rear gear cable snapped. The options were to either carry on riding to the next pit stop 15 miles away where there would be Halfords Servicing team (although I wasn't too sure of the terrain), try to find a bike shop somewhere in the city or ring for Halfords assistance car which is what we did. In fact we must have waited about 45 minutes with loads of cyclists peddling past us but Halfords did turn up and quickly put in a new cable free of charge. Set off from there and Paul somehow managed to fall off his bike when the van in front of him suddenly stopped and restarted again. Paul was unable to get his foot out of the pedal ,probably due to the amount of mud that was caught up in it. Anyway finally got going again to the next pit stop at 75 miles. Final section of the day was a long grippy climb followed by quite scary descent into Kyle of Sunderland. 111 miles.
Day 9 -Kyle of Sunderland to John O'Groats-Start gates opened at 0530 for slower riders- we managed to roll out around 0710.Cold and drizzly to start with a long draggy uphill to about 23miles. First pit stop at 29 miles amidst some fantastic scenery. From there we rode out onto the coast at Betty Hill and then had several miles of truly grippy hills ,really spectacular views.2nd pit stop was at 66 miles. From there it was into Thurso and finally after 105 miles into Lands End.
Around 988 miles with an overall average of 15.1 and no walking !
Overall I would recommend the Deloitte Ride to anyone. Downside was the camping but the upside was the mechanical support/food.
Ironman 70.3 Uk
It’s not been a good summer so the drive up to Exmoor in wind and rain gave me a couple of hours to work out how much waterproof gear I could get into my T1 bag. Joe Beer rule No.2, stay warm! Pulled into a sodden Wimbleball camp site, parked the van and hastily set up the awning in-between the gusts. I walked up towards transition, rounded the corner to see the finishing straight just as the PA system started to play “as I walk along this supposed Golden path”. Hopefully I’ll be running along it instead but only if I don’t sink neck deep into one of these rapidly spreading puddles. The Expo was looking more like Glastonbury Festival.
Saturday morning was more of the same weather wise. Dragged Sarah to the lake side to watch me on the practice swim. 9am and the lake looked less than inviting, nothing like sunny evening sessions in Carbis! What have I got the both of us into? I’m not inspired to get into the lake now, let along 2 hours earlier tomorrow and I’m sure Sarah doesn’t want to spend 6 or 7 hours cheering me on in a constant drizzle. The swim was surprisingly good and warmer than it looked, a massive 14.1 degrees. Felt much more confident about the whole thing post swim so went off to find breakfast.
I’d ridden the course before so no need to terrify myself again with the hills and the weather was still somewhat ‘inclement’. Prepped the bike and packed my transition bags (several times). Spent ages deciding between aero and normal wheels having checked out a few inconclusive weather forecasts. Normal wheels fitted and Sarah luckily spotted I’d mixed up the gear stack when I put the cassette on so that saved me some major swearing. Didn’t recce the run, too late to change anything now and my game plan was to leave enough in the tank on the ride to be able to cope with the reported hilly run (thanks to last year’s three test pilots for the info).
Some hopeful official at the race brief told us the weather was going to improve for race day. Other than that the only thing of major interest was the show of hands from the ‘Virgins’. Over half of us had never done it before which did pose the question “Why so few repeat offenders, is it really that horrific”? Ok, this is really it, last feed and then early to bed, early to rise.
Race morning. 04:30 wake up, porridge, another half an hour in bed then back up again and time to suit up. Second breakfast, finally found a use for that Epic Pro USN have been giving out at the local Tri’s. The weather had finally broken; a bit grey but no wind and no rain. Yippee! Bum, should have gone for the aero wheels. Dropped off my dry clothes bag, put on the wetsuit and stood about waiting for kick off.
This year saw two smaller mass starts. Pros and everybody up to 39 in the first wave and 40 up and relay in wave two. Based on Juliet’s experience last year I was pretty glad of this but that still didn’t make the fast start any easier. Lots of arms, legs and bodies in the way and the turn at the first buoy was more like a rugby match than a swim. It opened up after that and after rounding the second buoy it was time to head for the big blue exit gate. I’d spent so much time worrying about being fished out by the safety boat? One down, two to go.
T1 was not as fast as it could have been but I put on leggings as it was still cold (and I’m a wimp). The mount line was carnage, wet and muddy and people just couldn’t get into either their cleats or shoes. Dodged the bodies in the hedges and headed off for the first climb up from the lake muttering things like, “spin” and “complete not compete” and any other rubbish I’ve picked up lately so I didn’t gun it up the first hill I saw and die half way round. Good ride for me, kept the heart rate where I wanted, kept seated for most of the hills and just kept going. Lap one was fine, lap two was a bit harder to stay on the saddle for the hills but still ok. Support on the ride is sporadic but the mass of people that greet you at the top of Haldon Hill is immense. That’s the last of the major hills on each lap and a chance to refuel. Sarah was waiting camera in hand at the top of the hill on the second lap so I tried my best gritted teeth smile and rode on, T2 bound.
Into T2 just over 4 hours after I started the race, nearly 2 hours to get a half marathon run, surely I can go sub 6 here. Ran out of T2 with legs feeling fine, not even a little bit noodle like; spinning the last hill seemed to have worked. 200 yards out and on the first downhill toward the lake both quads cramped! Bum! Possible sub 6 could be about to turn into a DNF and a visit to the St John’s tent. I didn’t want to be a statistic and I wanted the medal so I walked, jogged, hopped along for a now increasingly slow 13 miles. 3 trips to the dam and it was nearly all over, just the final climb through the field. Up the hill, turn right, past the cafe and onto the slightly muddy red carpet. Sprint finish, no, maybe not but I did go for a speedy stagger and crossed the line. Yeah, it’s all over, just time to fend off the Finisherpix photographer and head for water and the promised hog roast waiting for me in the big tent.
All in all a great race for me and a great weekend, even with the rain. Thanks to all who talked me into doing it and kept telling me I’d be fine even when I was pretty sure I’d not done enough training or couldn’t swim, ride, run the distance. Thanks especially to Sarah for support on the day and putting up with me for the last 6 months with my somewhat single topic of conversation. And thanks to club members for the best wishes and congratulations, very much appreciated.
Will Hutchins M35-39 06:04:21