Sunday, 21 June 2015

D2D 2015 C&D Cycles 200 mile challenge

Where do I start this? OK let's go for the beginning. Way back in November my boss asked me if I wanted to attempt Chase the Sun with her. That's a 200 mile ride from Kent to Somerset where you leave at dawn and try to arrive before sunset. Never one to back down I agreed. Then I thought about it. Having to be on the Isle of Sheppy at 4.30 and needing to be picked up from Burnham on Sea at sunset really wasn't logical and therefore it required staying overnight at the start and the finish and arranging lifts etc. Not really ideal from our family life so I came up with the idea of trying the same thing locally. Having got some of the club interested Justin Smith came up with a route that closely followed the entire Northants border and dawn til dusk, now known as D2D was born (yeah we changed 'til' to 'to'.) We're a nice bunch but to be fair we're 'not sharp' and before you knew it people were signing up and volunteering to help. It all seemed a long way off then so plenty of time for training and preparing. Then it was the day! 

4.30AM ready to go

Oh hang where's the route?

Ten of us gathered at the shop at 4.30. We were worried about finishing there in the evening due to town centre nightlife however we are silly old fools. The kids were in fact leaving the clubs and in the kebab shops at that time. The plan was to follow the route on Garmin and it was with much surprise that we discovered that Justin had forgotten to download the route! Luckily others had done this and Glynn had a map! So Andy, Justin, Heather, Glynn, Frank, Chris, Ken, Tony, Mark and I set off. Glynn was going for an even bigger challenge of 300 miles in 24 hours. The man who doesn't 'train' is just an animal!

Good set up at Mummy and Daddy Preston's House

I always suspected, having tested this part of the route, that the 45 miles to the first stop would be the easiest of the day and that's exactly how it went. We arrived at the Preston house in Gretton ahead of schedule. Up to then it was a beautiful morning with a lovely sunrise (no pictures we were never facing it!) The roads were quiet and peaceful, it was great. Glynn's parents did us a great breakfast that was very welcome. At this point Tony cheered us all up with the news that the weather forecast had improved. He then ruined it by realising he was looking at Sunday!

From Gretton the world got a lot more lumpy, up Cottingham hill (no idea how I set a PR up that,) and heading round to Market Harborough. My climbing legs started to go then. I find I'm ok on hills for about 30 miles and then after that it's granny gear and survive. My weakness is my weight but it's also my strength because I can catch people coming down hill! I am the fastest rider in the club as long as gravity is lending a hand! Around 70 miles we stopped for a comfort break and both my thighs cramped up getting off the bike. Oh my god, 130 miles to go and I'm already cramping. I also had stomach ache and indigestion. There's was no way I was going to let my body beat me, so we pushed on. At Sibbertoft the rain started. Hills, hills, hills then we got separated and lost in Daventry. Finally we found our way to stop 2 where my parents had set up their mobile home 'the mobile meth lab,' where we topped up on Dad's special blue product 'patent pending recipe 10% discount for D2D riders.' That drink was a bit of research he did and was blue because he looked up the actual bliue colouring used by gatorade! Andy described as 'Blueberry with a dash of Smurf.' We also had a welcome cup of tea and bacon roll. At this point Mark earned himself the title of 'nugget of the day,' with his question "what time is midday?" We arrived at stop two feeling a bit downhearted and left in good spirits. An even bigger boost was Phil 'the beast' Broxton joining our group. We all know he can navigate and we know he can set a tempo and drag us all along.

My legs took a while to get going after that stop and I was struggling more than anyone on the hills. The title of arse ended Charlie was shared jointly on the day between Mark, Tony and I but at the point it was definitely me. I was grateful to Chris for coming back to help me out with words of encouragement and advice. I got a load of jelly beans down my neck and quaffed down Dad's blue juice and boom sugar rush I was back in the game. This was again a challenging part of the route with a massive hill at Aynho, we also went through many places I'd never heard of. It was hard to believe we were still in Northants at times. Stupid place name of the day goes to Aston le Walls. Chris wondered if it was twinned with Bologna the hedge. It was a shorter 36 mile stint to stop 3 at Brackley, we had some more Garmin confusion and then the meth lab was exactly where we hoped it was. At that stop Richard, Phil's mate from the Air Ambulance, joined us. It was great to get a bit of extra marketing for one of our two chosen charities. This time it was more blue product and this amazing flap jack with all sorts of magical ingredients. Whilst I'm bewildered how I can't get my weight down Mum and my wife make amazing things to eat. Hmmm is there a link here?

Stop 3 at Brackley

Having had 131 miles of problem free cycling we set off with Richard in the air ambulance car following us to make us feel extra special. Not long into the ride Mark's front derailleur failed due to a loose cable, so we had a stop and fiddle. Glynn meanwhile was keeping his miles up by going up and down the road. All fixed and not long after that Heather punctured closely followed by Andy. The rain stopped for a while so we got dry for a while but it didn't last. We were virtually in Milton Keynes for a while with even more Garmin confusion. Glynn helped out with his map at times but you had to make sure he'd got it the right way up! Finally we arrived at stop 4 in Salcey Forest. We were still on target at that point to beat the sunset. Mum had made us chilli for this stop and it was very welcome indeed, everyone had double helpings and spirits lifted once again, At this point with just 40ish miles to go I knew I could make it. Cramp and indigestion seemed a distant memory.

Bikes lined up

Stop 4 Salcey Forest...delicious chilli, just what the nurse ordered

Gracie dog was our mascot for the day

My Mum really pushed the boat out

Big 'Heissenberg' Dave 

The 24 miles to stop five at Chelveston was pretty straight forward. As we left Salcey Forest the sun came out and the sky gave us a rainbow. At Rushden we were accosted at the lights by people handing out mars bars, it turned out this was Justin's parents. The weather when we arrived at the stop was gorgeous and we looked forward to the last 19 miles riding into the sunset. Shortly after setting off Andy punctured again on the same tyre. After the dlay we set off again and half way to Raunds (yay Raunds it's never a proper C&D ride without Raunds,) it punctured again. At this stage the sensible decision was to split up. Andy and the stronger riders stayed back to try and sort the problem whilst us plodders got on with it. All hopes of beating the sun were now gone. Glynn also decided to whizz off to complete his challenge. The quickies caught us up before Warkton and at that point we met up with Paul Kelf who had come out on his bike to say hello.

You have to have a picture at Bell End

We arrived back at the shop around 10PM in the dark. It was pure elation to arrive. The queen of cakes greeted us with her magnificent cupcakes and the meth lab was there with everyone's spare kit. This was a huge achievement for everyone involved. I'd like to thank everyone who rode on the day it was a privilege to share the road with you all. Big thanks to the Preston's for stop one and to Richard and Mrs Richard from the air ambulance for their support. Thanks also to Andy and Chris at the shop for lending us the tool kit and providing spares, all will be returned tomorrow. Biggest thanks of the day go to my Mum and Dad. The Meth Lab was the perfect support vehicle, blue product is now my cycling drink of choice and Mum's food really got us through. We all chipped in £10 for that support and in their typical style I've been told to add that money to our sponsorship! That's taken us right through our team target of £750. If anyone else still wants to sponsor us here is the link - D2D 2015

At the finish...200 miles in one day

Video captures a bit of the day

So I got home and had a massive pizza. I was craving fish and chips, well more like moby dick and chips but the chippy was shut! I fell asleep on my second pint trying to watch a bit of telly. My body is a bit sore. My right knee really aches and I have the worst nappy rash, I've never been into chamois cream so I guess that was a mistake yesterday, however we got so soggy I doubt it would have helped that much. Later today I'm going to give, Clive, my magnificent steed some well earned TLC with a proper clean, degrease and lube. People might wonder how hard 200 miles is. I'm not going to lie it was tough. However once you reach a certain level of fatigue it doesn't seem to get worse, it does however get better in bursts and its surprising how much energy comes from nowhere at times. As Andy commented "I'm sure I should feel more tired than this."

That's it then, I have the rest of the day to sit here with a great big beaming smile and a snese of enormous achievement. 200 miles, 300kms and my longest ever ride all ticked off on June 20th 2015. What are we going to do to top that?

Happy Pedaling

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