Well, we did it.
The hounds woke us up at about 6.30am, just before the alarm went off, so we got up and out and walked them good and early. Breakfast grabbed, we loaded up the car and set off for Gt Yarmouth, getting there at about 9am. We quickly found the ‘pre registered’ queue and got our timing chips & put them on the bikes, we then cycled a few hundred yards to the seafront and found some loos that were open. After that, we returned to the start and found the ‘technical’ gazebo and the nice man there fettled our bikes a bit for us as a couple of the gear changes were a bit clunky. Probably because we swapped wheels/cassettes but didn’t swap the chain. We didn’t swap the chainrings over either. Interestingly, the chap behind us had swapped cassettes/wheels with his wife’s bike so the nice technical chap must have decided that it was a ‘Norfolk’ failing.
The ride manual, from the ride organisers, clearly said to pick up our chips and to grab some food and water. We found the water but no protein bars, gels etc were there to collect. Kenn was a little worried but I told him that he can easily ride to Coltishall, about 22 miles, on toast and sweeties (including a Kit-Kat that Kenn produced from somewhere). Neither of us need gels for a 22 mile tootle about on our bikes. It was the rest of the ride that I was worried about but I thought that I would keep that to myself.
We went in the third group of riders, 6 minutes behind the penny farthing and Kenn was definitely with me at Filby. I could see him behind me – blue jersey, red helmet – and he was there all the way to Potter Heigham when he overtook me and it wasn’t Kenn after all. I waited up for about 5 minutes but there was no sign of him so I pushed on and decided to wait for him at Coltishall. I was pretty glad to see Hoveton as I knew that the food stop would be along soon. I was following a chap with a stylized bird on his jersey. I turned off at Coltishall for the food stop, he kept on going. I waited about 15 minutes or so for Kenn and grabbed some protein bars, a couple of gels, some cake and topped up my water bottle with yummy orange drink. I was queuing for the loo when Kenn arrived. We left the food stop together and rode along to Hainford and along Shortthorn Road. It took us about 5 minutes to cross the main A140, we were getting a bit fed up actually. Finally there was a gap and we were on our way.
Kenn was having real issues and his back was aching and his left thigh was none to clever either. He said to ride on at my pace and he would ride at his pace. At that moment we were passed by a couple of ladies from Mulbarton Velo Club so I followed them after asking if they would mind if I rode with them a while. They were averaging somewhere around 13.5mph and it was a good pace for me. I rode with them until half way up the hill at Swanton Morley. From Felthorpe to Reepham, we had police bikes flying past us and blocking off the side roads while we passed, then riding past again and so on and so forth until we got past Reepham. It was rather fun watching the bikes. The police were having a practice for tomorrow when the Pro Riders are on the route. Just after Reepham we all pulled over into the shade and had 5 minutes break, ate a protein bar and wiggled our toes in our shoes. Turns out its not only my feet that loose feeling in my shoes.
Coming up to Swanton Morley, with 41 miles of cycling in my legs, there is a big hill. Its actually not massive in the grand scheme of things but I got cramp. I told the Mulbarton Velo ladies and said that I would see them later. It only took 30 seconds or so for the cramp to go but I had to stop to sort it out. I soon got pedaling again and went past the pub at Swanton Morley and the shop and carried on up the slope until I got to the right hand bend and on the road to Dereham. Kenn and I know this road well as we used to cycle it daily when we lived in Swanton Morley. Riding on familiar roads gave me a lift. Getting through Dereham was a pain though. I got stopped at every red light going!
At one red light, a very handsome young man asked how far we had to go yet. I told him that it was around 10 miles, it was probably more like 12 but I was thinking how far home it was, not to the showground. My brain was starting to frazzle a bit. Must have been the heat. Riding out on the road to Mattishall was nice. Again, I know this road although the sleeping policeman traffic calming bumps were a pain – literally – in the bum. I am not convinced that bike saddles and female backsides really have anything in common. Mental note to buy a new seat as soon as practical. I stopped momentarily and dug out my iPod from one of my pockets, connected the headphones and stuck some Newsboys on. For my money, they are probably the best Christian Rock band out there at the moment. Good pedalling music anyway. Riding was feeling better with a good beat to ride too.
All of a sudden, it seemed, I was coasting down the hill towards Barnham Broom golf course and that tight left hander to Colton and ‘that’ hill. A couple of bikes whizzed by me and went straight on. There were a few cyclists standing on the corner calling them back. They passed me on ‘that’ hill saying “Keep going, nearly there”. I totally bonked on that hill. My legs cramped up, all the way to my hip. I stopped briefly and sorted the cramp and then got on with the hill. After that hill was done and dusted (we’ll call it a draw today, I got up but very slowly and I’m pretty sure that I heard it snigger as I got to the top) I know the way to the showground off by heart.
The route signs were amazing, so good so I could just follow them in. I had forgotten that there is a slight rise in the road towards the showground but it then levels off. Turning in the showground was great. I was thinking ‘I’m nearly there’ then I was thinking ‘I don’t remember this being a slight rise here’. It nearly killed me. I cycled up the showground road way, then turned, turned again and then again. People were clapping but I was convinced that someone has stolen the finish line because I couldn’t see it.
Then the finish line was there, about 200 yards away. I lifted my cadence a bit, but it wasn’t a sprint finish. I was feeling too knackered for that, but I sat up as I crossed the line. I could hear people banging the boards all the way up, which was lovely. I stopped at the people after the finishing line and one person gave me a goody bag, another a medal, another a raffle ticket for the post race snack. I was a bit overwhelmed. I put everything in my goody bag and went to find a patch of grass where I could release my numb feet from my cycling shoes.
No sooner did I get my shoes off when I saw Nicky from Mulbarton Velo Club. She was waiting for her hubby to finish the 200+km event. I turned off ‘my tracks’ on my phone and saw a text from Kenn. He said that he was around 5 miles out and struggling. I decided not to have my post race snack just yet but to go and bang on the boards until he arrived. My phone battery gave out at about 3.50 which was about 40 minutes after he had texted me. I was getting a bit worried about him as rider after rider came in. Then I thought that I saw him coming along before the final turn. As he got closer I could see it was him and I told the commentator Kenn’s name so he could cheer him down the final 200 metres. Kenn looked a bit knackered and I wondered if I should cycle home and get the car & come back and fetch him, rather than let him cycle home.
Once he was de-shoed and sat down, he dug out his raffle ticket and we went to find the post race snack (tuna roll, banana & coffee – black). We sat about for about 15 minutes before getting back on our bikes and cycling the additional 10km home. Slowly, but not as slowly as Kenn cycled. Cycling with a goody bag hanging off your handlebars is not easy. It wasn’t too bad as far as I was concerned. 10km to far for Kenn.
The official ride distance was 92km (or 57.2 miles) but the ‘my tracks’ app on my phone – a gps based thing – asssures me that we travelled 96.6km with a moving time for 4:23:36 but a total time of 5:07:13. 7.13 longer than I would have liked but I did wait for Kenn at Coltishall and had a 5 min break at Reepham so I have nobody but myself to blame there. Very happy with my moving time though. I will log on later and get Kenn’s total time.
Could do with a beer now.
Ride: 96.6 km
Max : 51.33 kph
Ave: 21.99 kph
Total 698.16 km