Daren W
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My London Bikeathon 100 by Keiran Adkins – Trepidation and Laughter

Daren W
Posted by
01 Sep 2014

the second team member to get the writing bug, are we sitting comfortably?

My London Bikeathon 100 by Keiran Adkins – Trepidation and Laughter

For me the London Bikeathon started Saturday afternoon. After a morning of wallpapering and constructing furniture, James Burns arrived to collect me so we could begin our journey to Twickenham. Bikes and bags loaded we set off with the normal trundle around the North Circular giving us an opportunity to talk strategy and set the world to rights.

We checked in at the hotel to find that access to the spa in the adjacent virgin active was complimentary, but first we decided it would be a wise idea to find the starting location for the morning and scope out the vital MacDonald’s for the team’s breakfast routine. Although the hotel was 1.1 miles from our starting point as the crow flies, the lack of crossings over the river meant a 3 mile bike ride to the start or a 5 mile drive. Thinking about the 102 mile bike the proceeding day we thought better of adding any additional miles and decided driving was the sensible option. Admin done we made the most of the complementary adjacency and the tone of the evening was relaxation with the Jacuzzi, Steam Room and Sauna acting as the facilitators. Refreshed, fed and reconnected with the members of the team, we planned the part of the day which I was approaching with the most trepidation – deciding the time for the wakeup call. It’s not that I don’t like the morning it’s just that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.

As the alarm went off I felt surprisingly spritely, and was really looking forward to the day ahead. First stop was the MacDonald’s on Richmond high street, 4 hash browns giving me the starchy carbohydrates needed to get through the event. We made our way to Ham House, unloaded the bikes and started playing where’s wally in reverse as our team decided to stand out amongst the red white and black and don our yellow LLR Team Essex kit. With our timing chips attached we lined up in the starting blocks for the obligatory Mason selfies, waiting patiently in our group of 50 with a sense of consternation and excitement.

As we set off I found myself riding with the Hayden brothers, fellow riders from Essex who had connected with us through the power of social media. For them Leukaemia and Lymphoma research had a profound meaning as their Father is currently going through treatment. Sporting injuries and recovering from a recent crash, and never taking on the surrey hills or 100 miles they were equally as apprehensive as several members of our team. As we pushed on and progressed through Esher we were able to reconnect as a team which gave me an opportunity to turn all Ansel Adams but on a bicycle and take some photos on the move. As we approached the 6 mile climb out of London and up the North Downs, we become segregated. Our typical approach is to stick together as best as we can on the flat but we take the hills at our own speeds, then reconnect at the top. Giving us all a welcome moment for recovery.

We all knew that Box Hill was looming and proceeded by an extremely fast and trepidatious downhill segment which sported gravel, 4x4’s and ramblers, we then had to circumnavigate a muddy underpass which required us walking through and carrying our bikes under the London Way road narrowly avoiding the homeless man in his tent. We regrouped for a Mason selfie before beginning the Box Hill climb. I decided to take it about as seriously as I have the rest of my cycling career and decided I would rather take videos and pictures than take it overly serious and race. Knowing the climb from the last year I was able to make the climb in a semi respectful time given my inability to race it seriously. I quickly jumped off the bike, for a photo opportunity for each of the team crossing the finish line. A fuel refill and some photo opportunities later we embarked on the next leg of the journey.

Gaps started to appear as the day was taking its toll on the team, many embarking on their longest ride and biggest ever sporting challenge. We tried to ride in a peloton with short lived success as the pickup in pace started to affect some of the team. The gap become larger and larger eventually resulting in an 8 minute gap with Tom, James B, James M, and Lee and Myself at the front and Daren, Paul and Dave trailing behind. Unaware how large the gap between the team was I made a conscious decision to hold back and try to regroup with the trio aiming to support the team to the finish line. As the 4 of us pulled together to keep the miles ticking over, we passed through some incredible scenery in the Surrey hills although it didn’t distract from some of the aches and pains that were beginning to test some of the members of the team.

The leading group were waiting at a petrol station several miles short of the last big climb of the day, another chance to reconvene, with the commitment to stick together through the remaining miles. Shortly after the petrol station stop we found the official rest stop, a chance for us to indulge in Mr Kipling’s delicacies and fill the water bottles before the commencement of the most difficult climb of the day, which saw us starting as a collective and finishing at our own pace. I found my pace and took on the hill, constantly anticipating a bigger and steeper climb around the next bend, which it duly obliged. I had Daren in company sharing expletives as we saw what was next. As I turned the final bend and starred down the barrel of the final leg, I grimaced to get myself around the apex and over the 35.3% bump, successfully conquered I had one final straight to take on and then “ping” my gears slipped, I clipped out of my cleat and lost all momentum 40ft from the top of the 1 mile climb.

The team regrouped at the top, shared yet more expletives and then pushed on knowing that our climbing challenges for the day were done, turning the corner we was met with a welcome site, a huge descent and then a relatively flat route back to the city, although in typical fashion fate decided that the proceeding challenge appeared to be too easy and presented the team with two punctures within 20 feet although uncharacteristically it was not me for a change. Punctures repaired we pushed on knowing the end was in sight, only to find out the contents of Lee’s saddle bag were littered across roads in Surrey. The team regrouped whilst Lee began an unsuccessful search for said contents. A call to the support we had at the finish line and the race organisers, told us we were quickly running out of time as the event was finishing, with this in mind we decided rushing back would make no difference, we started as a team and we were going to finish as a team. All back together we pushed through the last 10 miles aided by a satnav. As we returned to Ham House to be greeted by family and friends there was a huge collective sense of pride, we had all beaten the Bikeathon after all of our injuries and ailments through the years and we had done it as a team.

Personally for me I really enjoyed the day, it was one of the best routes I have ever ridden, physically I never felt the event had gotten the best of me, and I spent half the day laughing with friends, which is one of my primary reasons for cycling. I am extremely proud of the team and the individual efforts, for completing their first 100 mile ride, for overcoming injuries, ailments and self-doubt to finish, and for working for one another to be unstoppable. We will have made a significant difference with the money raised, and it’s given me a huge boost for our 2015 555 European Adventure.