Success!

Having been simply too pooped yesterday, today I’ve summoned up the energy to write about my success in the Great Notts Bike Ride. 25 miles is by far and away the longest distance I’ve cycled to date (plus the mile or so cycle to/from the start line!) and to many people this would seem like the tiniest achievement but to me it’s colossal! It’s given me the most enormous sense of achievement and I am unbelievably proud of myself.

I have to be honest that the night before I slept terribly and was awake from 6am just feeling sick. The nausea continued all the way to the start line, and, to be honest, at various points through the ride, especially when I got too hot. For the first half the sun was beating down and there was barely any shade. I normally ride in an evening when it’s a lot cooler so I had no experience to deal with the heat of the day, and at midsummer too.

I managed to cycle all the way to the dreaded hills between Bradmore and Plumtree. Made it up the first then got stuck midway on the second, but amazingly bumped into Jo, one of the ride leaders from my accompanied cycle last week! She really helped me to get to the top of the third, mostly walking it has to be said, and the 8 mile feed station at Plumtree. Where I was cheered in by my sister, brother-in-law and nephews! They only live in the next village so I had specifically asked them to meet me there and what an amazing boost that was.

From there I headed off on the second leg which I knew was going to be tough as this would take me to and beyond the 11 miles of my longest ride to date. The hill at Cotgrave was horrendous but I finally made it and how amazing the downhill section was after that – really cooling and exhilarating to be actually moving at more than a snail’s pace. 13 miles was hard as I realised that though I had passed the half way point, I still had further to travel than my previous longest ride. Oh dear.

But I got another fantastic surprise about a mile from the second, 16 mile feed station at Cropwell Butler when I was frightened to death by a car. With my family above, PLUS my husband, who they’d been over to fetch, hollering and cheering me on! I’d expected to be completely on my own to the finish so how brilliant that now I had support? I guess I stayed longer at the feed stations than planned but it was so lovely to have the family there and the stretches between could be quite lonely.

So I set off on the last leg and had my only little disaster at about 17 miles when my chain came off. Luckily, I sort of knew what to do but a fabulous rider stopped and helped me. What kindnesses people show you in such circumstances. I’ll probably never see the guy again but I genuinely can’t thank him enough.

I finally hit my wall at about 19 miles. There were a few moments I was questioning whether I’d be able to make it but you just have to show resolve and get on with it. It felt quite bleak as the 3 routes converged with 5 miles to go and all the club riders having done 45/95 miles already were whizzing past me like I was just walking but we all start somewhere and I’d started just 42 days before!

Cramp hit initially with less than a mile left when I had to stop at traffic lights, then I finally made it back to the embankment with the finish line in site about 300 yards away, and just had to stop and beat up the offending leg twice as my inner thigh went into spasm! But finally, finally I made it – with my astounding family whooping and cheering as I crossed the line! And more congratulations from the work colleagues who had also completed the ride.

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I had imagined that I would feel elated but I was so so tired by then I probably looked really miserable! But genuinely the family completely made my day, I have no idea if I’d have been able to finish without them.

So, times. Well, I’m not going to worry the guys on Le Tour. My app clocked me at 25.19 miles in 4h57, but I had started it going quite a while before crossing the start line and never stopped it at all, so by my best reckoning, I was actually cycling (walking) for about 3h30. If I hadn’t dawdled at the feed stations and lost my chain, then maybe I would have made it in the 4 hours I wanted. But who cares? I finished it!

Things that have surprised me:

  • I found it really difficult to eat at the feed stations. Took me ages to eat a banana as it was making me feel sick
  • I thought I’d be ravenous at the end, but no, I wasn’t bothered about food at all. Made myself eat which was definitely the best thing, but still
  • Slept really badly again last night when I should have been zonked
  • Although my muscles feel tired today, I’m certainly not aching or stiff so I know my training at least was sufficient to avoid that!

I had a lovely Twitter message from Jo Ward, another of the Sky Ride leaders, then a smashing text from Wayne, my RideWise trainer when I texted him as requested to tell him how I’d got on. Cycling seems like a family and I’m loving it!

Oh, and to the idiot who leaned out of his car at Ruddington yelling “legs up fatty”. Screw you. I’m losing weight, I’m getting active. But you’ll always be stupid and ugly. And if I see your car again when I’m on my bike my pedals will be having a nasty accident with your paintwork. Asshole.

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