Saturday, 22 August 2009

Charity Bike Ride

I did a 103mile (I'd signed up for 100miles, they only said it was 103miles on the start line!) bicycle ride for charity a week ago. It was the furthest I've ever ridden but was mostly enjoyable. The weirdest thing has been the different reactions I've had from different groups of friends/relatives/colleagues/etc:

Cycling friends: You'll be fine, it's not that far as long as you eat enough and drink enough - admittedly one of my cycling friends had a couple of weeks earlier done a charity ride of about 800miles. She cycled London to Edinburgh, then back to London in just over 118hours. It made my 100miles seem somewhat less distressing!

Non-Cycling friends and relatives: Ooh, sounds tricky but I'm sure you'll do fine, you've done some training and ride your bike lots (erm, well, I had swine flu a week before, not sure that's the ideal training plan but never mind).

Work Colleagues: Goodness, surely that's impossible! You won't be able to walk for days!! What, you're planning to come to work the day after?? You must be some sort of super-human cycling demon!!!!!! Err....well not really, I can do 15miles quite happily to get places, not really considering it as a ride. I did a 50mile ride on my own whilst still coughing horrifically from swine flu and felt fine after (admittedly a bit tired, but my legs were fine). I forget that a lot of people don't do exercise at all.

My boss: What would you want to do that for? (Scornful look). I brought my medal to work to show my office buddies, my boss saw it and laughed at me for being proud of it. Humph!

The weather was nice and dry, and a pretty perfect temperature. The only problem was the strong winds that had been forecast for a week or so. Prediction of 25mph westerly winds with 40mph gusts. Meaning we would have a headwind from the halfway point onwards. It turned out that the first half of the ride was quite sheltered in valleys so we didn't even get a tailwind! The first half of the ride contained a scarily steep climb. Unfortunately there were lots of little, quite steep climbs first so me and my friend kept assuming we were on the big climb. Then going round a corner and seeing another hill in front of us. We finally found the steep bit and managed to keep going all the way, I was surprised and relieved that we didn't get overtaken (especially since I have gears unsuitable for big hills).

After lunch (pasta, tuna salad, crisps, chocolate bars etc - provided by the organisers, there were 4feed stops plus lunch) we hit the headwind, and the 20mile climb. Luckily we had cunningly set off at the same time as 4guys who looked like proper cyclists (full on lycra, road shoes, massive calves and no body fat) and managed to hang onto their back wheels for a while. At one point, one of them even dropped off the back and I managed to get him back up to his friends again. (I was very proud of myself, felt like a real cyclist!) Eventually the pace became too much for us and we couldn't keep up any longer. This section seemed to take forever, we had thought that each food stop was about 15-17miles apart. When we (finally) got to the next one and had a look at the map, it turned out it had actually been 25miles so no wonder it had taken longer than expected!

At the final feed stop, with 15miles to the finish, we realised we had set off 7hours previously. Having vaguely discussed times previously and decided that 8hours could be possibly attainable and suitably impressive, we went for it. The last few miles through the centre of York (on horrifically busy roads) were quite scary especially as the friend I rode with tends to get faster when angry - it was a bit of a struggle keeping up whenever he felt he'd been wronged by another road-user. Finally we made it to the finish, about 7hours 55minutes after starting! We must have spent over an hour at feed-stops in total so our average was probably just under 15mph! Since my usual average is about 12mph on much shorter rides, I was pretty chuffed.

We finished early enough in the afternoon that a leisurely shower and dinner could be enjoyed prior to getting the train back to Edinburgh. Finally got home about midnight. Getting up for work the next morning was a struggle! My legs were a bit tired and slightly stiff, but in general I was fine.

Who knows, maybe we'll do another one next year (though I'd rather not have to eat energy gels again, yick!)

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