I know that I am late in writing this one up, but I was knackered and have only just summoned the energy to log on.
We got up, on Sunday, at 0430 and were swigging coffee 10 minutes later. I ate a large bowl of porridge and knew that I could get a bacon buttie at the event. It said so in the blurb. We left the house at 20 past 5 and arrived at Woburn Abbey at around 7am.
We had a wander around and found the butty tent but they were not open yet, the lady said. Then we found Purple Harry who checked my chain and found it to be knackered. That would account for the rumbling then. He showed us his bike floss and we bought 3 packets, on offer for a tenner for the lot. As you do. Back to the bacon butty tent, still not open at 7.30am so worrying a bit now.
We chatted to the Liv/Giant peeps, asked them to fettle a bit for me, due to knackered and rumbling chain but they said that they would just stick a nice new chain on for me, for free!! While they were doing that, I went over the Macmillan tent and claimed my free tee shirt and had a nice chat with the lad there who is planning a trans America ride on his bike next summer. Impressed. I also went to the info desk and got a map of the course and was told that we were riding 1 1/2 laps of about 10 miles after the 2 mile ride out to the lappy bits, and then one lap to the north of the small laps and then rejoining it and finishing 1/2 a lap and then the 2 mile ride back in. Well signposted and marshalled apparently. Thank heavens for that. Confused? Not in the slightest. Much.
Back to Liv/Giant to retrieve fettled bike with lovely new chain and thanking them very much and on to the bacon butty tent which was still not open even though they had cooked bacon there. Building up a stock apparently. By now it was 8.15am and we had a look at the scootathon for the youngsters. A lap on their scooters, then a lap on their bikes and lastly a lap running. It looked great fun.
Having watched the 3-5 year olds we returned to the bacon butty tent at 8.20 to be told it would be another 45 minutes or so, when the bike riders had left. What was the point of opening then, when 1500 women had left the area on their bikes. I was getting peckish now, having eaten at 4.45am and it was too late to pop down the road and hunt out a Macdonalds, even if I could digest a bacon roll in 40 minutes before the off. Back to the Scootathon before finding the loos and joining the queue of starting riders. I’m the one in the middle in a black and white top and grey helmet. Having shifted a stone or so, I am wearing lycra as it comfy! I was certainly medium sized and in good company with lots of rounder (not skinny) ladies at the event.
Victoria Pendleton (left) saw us off and started us in groups, I went through the start at 09:12 and rode the gentle downhill and rollercoaster like bits of the roadway out of the Abbey grounds, turned right and right again and faced with the first of many hills of the day. After the up there was a nice down which I pedalled down and put my average speed up. Then up again and down and up and down and up and up and up then down. At about 5 miles there was a treat stop so I topped my water off and grabbed some gels and a handful of jelly babies, as you do. Half a banana too and then carried on. At about 12 miles I saw another treat stop but carried on as I had plenty of water and felt fine, although the hills were getting to me a bit.
Then it all went pear shaped. At 12 or 13 miles, I felt my legs feeling empty but I carried on and was soon going over a cattle grid back towards Woburn Abbey. I could see Kenn there and stopped for a second as I really did not feel very well and there was a bloody great 8% + hill rearing up ahead of me. I sat for a couple of minutes and handed Kenn my empty gel packets, sweet wrappers and some paper I had discovered in my pocket. While sitting I had another gel and dragged myself, feeling really unwell and hot, back on to my bike and got up the hill in 2 sections. The downhill behind it was fantastic and I realised that I had done one whole lap. I had another lap PLUS the extra bit to the North to do yet and I was knackered. I reckon that not getting that bacon butty before the off and done for me and made a mental note that if this situation arose again, having a 2 hour journey to an event, to find a MaccyDees en route.
Back up the first of the hills, crawling at 6 or 7mph and flying down the other sides at 30mph. On the flat I was OK and could keep a steady 16 or 17mph without to much bother, until there was a hill. Hills just sapped any remaining energy. At the treat stop, the first one I stopped at had come around again, I topped up my water as I was nearly empty. I ate half a chocolate brownie which nearly choked me. I had 2 bananas, some jelly babies, some more gel and sat and had 10 minutes rest before finding the loo and pouring water over my head.
I crawled out of there at a stupid 8mph on my bike and slogged my way to the next treat stop where I had another 10 minutes or so. More gel, more bananas and more jelly babies – which were getting thin on the ground by then. I had had to stop 3 times for short rests between treat stops and I had the headache from hell. While at this treat stop, stuffing a banana, I asked where we were on the map and where we turn off. He said that the girl on the info desk was an idiot and I was already on the loop to the North as it was one big ‘8’ shaped loop. I was mightily relieved. Apparently there was lots of confusion as the the course, the loops etc and the poor Marshall was getting very fed up being asked about it but hundreds of riders.
I wobbled off and headed the last 8 miles or so back. I had to rest 2 or 3 times to the bloody great 8%+ hill back into Woburn Abbey but I was moving. Faster on the flat & downs and painfully slowly on the ups. I stopped a couple of times to remove my helmet and tip water over my head. I had another breather before the big hill and rode up with a couple of other ladies. Zoomed down the other side and onto the final 2 miles to the finish. Mostly up hill and it nearly killed me. I stopped at the bridge over the lake and poured even more water over my head before carrying on again.
I heard the finish before I saw it and sped up to it. I blasted through the finish line at around 25mph and the marshalls were waving at the finishers to slow down before the finish line. Like that’s ever going to happen. All in all, it took me 3 hours and 45 mins to get back. My riding time was only 2 hours 57 and 12 seconds though which shows how much I stopped to rest. Once through the finish I was told to dismount, which was a shame as my Giant Defy was holding me up I think. I sat down in the shade of a dumpster, with a horrendous headache and worried the life out of a First Aider who helped me tip water over my head. It was over 27 degrees in the sun, first aider said it was heat exhaustion. No shit!!
As I was walking back to the village of trade tents, I was handed various packets of crisps (yummy), coconut water packets (vile, totally vile) a rather lovely medal and a goody bag from Liv/Giant, which had a magazine, jelly beans and a sample of sanitiser for my lid/gloves/shoes from the nice man at Purple Harry. We then wandered over to Purple Harry and the guy demonstrated his bike polish and then gave me a sample bottle. It smells of blueberries. Half my Giant looks fantastic. I need to polish the other half now.
The bacon roll tent was open for business but I ate my free crisps instead. Rather than queuing for a massage, I decided that I wanted to go home. I was not feeling very well at all. By the time we got to Thetford I was really hungry and had a McDee’s veggie wrap and a milkshake, which made me feel a bit more human. The 10 hours sleep once home was rather lovely too.
I have planned a 45 mile ride in Thetford for the 14th July. After the debacle of this 36 mile cycletta, I am not so sure now. I will see how I feel tomorrow.
The rides :35.99
Ave speed : 13.2
Top Speed: 32.4mph!
Total miles : 411.52