Sadly we didn't conquer the Womens Tour of Britain but more on that later. There has been a lot of talk recently about the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister breaking the 4 minute mile, but for us with a long bank holiday ride we had a different mile challenge to conquer. 7:30 on Saturday morning along with a bunch of others from our club (the A5 Rangers) we were preparing for the first century ride of the year.
A chilly start took us west towards the Cotswolds for a ride that was billed as moderately hilly. Right from the off we were struggling. We did not seem to have the legs or could not find a gear/cadence that was suitable for both of us. It was depressing since we had been riding really well the previous weekend (until a disintegrating rear wheel brought our ride to an untimely halt!). We were hoping to be encouraged by this ride, giving us a sense that all our training was moving us in the right direction, that we would “peak” at just the right time – but at this point it was just sowing seeds of concern.
Around 70 very hilly miles passed unremarkably apart from a puncture in the group and a café stop until the ride leader called a conference. Behind schedule, we had a critical decision to make – stay together and miss the final café stop at mile 87 because it would be closed, or split up and hope that the faster riders could sort something out. Obvious really – the fast guys headed off, and the rest of us hoped for the best. The miles dragged on and my energy levels dropped. Fuelling correctly on the tandem is always a challenge for me, and it becomes a lethal concoction when mixed with a misperception of the distance ahead. Eventually at around 80 miles we stopped at the side of the road and I squeezed down an energy gel before rolling into the café 20 minutes after closing time.
The Limes at Farthinghoe were fantastic with our vanguard arriving a moment before closing, they agreed to stay open and we were all treated to restorative coffee and cake. The final 13 miles were a blast – rejuvenated by the gel, coffee, cake and the certainty that the end was in sight. What a ride – and no wonder we were tired - we had ridden 102 miles and climbed nearly 6,000 ft – a little more than a vertical mile!
Yesterday was a completely different experience. With the Womens Tour of Britain finishing close by in Bedford, and LLR the official charity partner Tessa and I took the chance to see the end of the stage. The atmosphere was great and our logo seemed to be everywhere. Despite pouring rain throughout the stage the riders were fully committed and delivered a fantastic stage of racing. However the best part of the day was meeting Sally Waller who survived Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Sally was full of the joy of life and great company. It was a wonderful reminder of what we are all working towards and what our fundraising ultimately achieves – so if you want to contribute you can do so here.