At long last I am beginning to feel more human so can now tell the story of the 24 hour event.
The week leading up to the event was spent chilling out and doing little on the bike except some preparation. I set up the bike I would be using at night making sure all of the light brackets and fitting were secure and adjusted properly. I also looked out all of the food and drink I would be using during the event; it sure looked a lot to eat!
We had a leisurely drive down on the Friday and stayed at a Travel Inn in Crewe, passing some of the roads that we had used on the first of our Lands End adventures (remember getting lost in Middlewich?).
It was a hot night down south so we did not get the best of sleeps, we got up for breakfast at a local supermarket and then it was off to the race HQ at Farndon. It was just before midday when we arrived and already it was in the high 20’s so I kept out of the sun as much as possible and drank as much as I could.
The support crew got into action and got the bikes set up. They started making up the drinks, setting out the food and getting the change of clothing for the night section arranged. George strayed off looking at the tandem trike and a few of the female riders as well (just checking out the opposition he said )
Not long to go now, on with the cycling gear and shoes, debating whether to wear a helmet or not (not required in England) but decided to play safe and use one but ditched the aero helmet for a standard lid which had more vent holes.
On the line now and off we go only 24 hours to go, didn’t think about it like that, and just broke it down into my stop strategy of two with one in the evening and again in the morning for change of bike/clothing.
The thing you find the hardest is to try and control your pace in the early stages of the race, you feel fresh and strong and want to go hard but you have to think of the second half of the race when you will need the energy to push on.
The first few miles were on a quiet A road until we hit a roundabout and onto the very busy A41, lots of big trucks giving you very little room. It was scary at times. Thankfully we were only on this road for just over 10 miles before hitting quieter roads to start the first loop on the circuit from Prees Heath to just out side Telford, this loop of 40 miles would also be used on the night time section of the race.
The afternoon was quite hot but the forecast was for heavy showers and sure enough as I headed down to the far end of the section I was caught in a torrential downpour. I could hardly see in front of me and as large puddles formed at the side of the road I was forced to ride out towards the middle of the road checking there were no cars behind, as they would struggle to see me in this rain. After about 30 mins the rain eased as I moved back north away from the cloudburst, it was not cold and it kept me cool as the sun came out again.
Three laps of this section and then it was onto a smaller loop based around the night time HQ at Prees Heath, time was around 6:30pm.
I was starting to get a bit of pain in my right knee but was hoping that I could just ride through it and it would clear, this was not to be the case.
This section was on fairly quite roads mainly flat with one drag which lasted for about 300 metres, at the end of the fourth lap I pulled in to Prees Heath for a bike/clothes change and some solid food.
Time for the crew to kick in to action again, had Kenny keep track of the time 15-minute stop and no more. Change of shorts jersey and socks, 5 minutes gone, eating some creamed rice while cleaning the face and legs and applying cream to the nether regions, another 5 minutes gone. More food in the mouth as well as some in the pockets followed by a couple of Ibuprofen for the knee (checked on the BCF website and these are not on the banned substance list).
The crew were putting on fresh bottles and checking the lights out, one of the front lights was playing up looked like a faulty switch but was working o.k. now. Back on the course right on the 15 minute stop schedule for one more lap of the small loop before heading south on the long loop to Telford for the rest of the night.
The night section has very little street lighting with only 3 sections lit as you approach roundabouts so it would be dark for most of the 40-mile section. There was still enough light to see without using bike lights until around 11pm then it was settle down into the rhythm of tapping out the miles until daylight.
So many things go through your mind when doing this type of event, you can’t see your speedo so have no real idea of your pace or the time elapsed until you go in to a lit section and that is when you are getting handed up drink and food by the support so not much time to check. Strange noises from the bushes, weird shadows cast on the road and clouds of mist on the roads as a light fog started to form in the middle part of this section
As the night wore on my knee was giving me more pain, the annoying thing was that I have never had any knee problems before and I had not changed any shoe, pedal or plate combination this season. Started to favour my left leg for a while to try and take the strain of my right knee.
My front light started to play up, same one as before, so had to stop and the boys did a quick change over to a spare. In the meantime I took the opportunity to take some more painkillers.
A light glow on the horizon indicating the dawn was almost here is supposed to pick you up but I was beginning to feel bad as the pain in my knee was flaring up again. Going through my head now was could I carry on and finish the race as I still had over 10 hours to go, there was only one answer YES no matter what the pain.
Made it to Prees Heath for my next schedules stop to change over to the day time bike/clothes, decided to make this stop 30 minutes instead of 15 to try and give the knee as much rest as possible. The crew took control here and did a great job making sure I got all the food and drink I needed as well as loading me up for the next section on the road.
Once I got back on to the road covering the small loop at Prees Heath again things seemed better. I was tapping along at a good pace picking off riders along the way, six laps of the 13 mile loop and still feeling good before they sent me heading north to the finishing circuit.
Back on to the busy A41 to be ‘buzzed’ by lots of lorry drivers before hitting a bumpy section of road which caused my aero bars to come loose. Luckily for me the boys had pulled in just up the road so a quick stop as the team worked on the bike. As I was stopped Nick Gardiner went passed so I went back on the road and tried to use him as much as I could. As we hit a few drags I could see he was struggling ( he had done his work early in the race managing to break the 500 mile barrier by the end, what a ride) so I decided to go passed him and kept pushing on as I was going from my own target. Could not get my computer to work after the stop to fix the aero bars, later discovered that the magnet had fallen off on the bumpy section ,so had to push on guesstimating my pace for the last four hours.
I pushed hard into the finishing circuit as the temp started rising, hitting just over 30 degrees as the race came to an end. Felt good for a few laps but was going through a pile of water to try and stay cool and hydrated, eventually started to fade on the last lap as my knee was just about done by that time. I could hardly put any force on the pedal on the right side. Eventually I soft pedalled for the last 5 miles or so just counting down the minutes until it was over.
At last! 2:02 pm on the Sunday just as I reached timekeeper 3 it was all over. Off the bike and I just sat at the side of the road drinking water and eating a packet of mini jaffa cakes. Made the call to Alex Hunter to let him know how it went and let him spread the news, Louise and Davy were already texting me to say well done, after 10 minutes or so I dragged my self into George’s car as Kenny rode my bike back to the race HQ.
Handshakes all round as I thanked the team for a great effort over the last two days without them I don’t think I would have made it! So a big THANK YOU to George, Kenny, Terry, Siobhan and Allannah for all of their efforts before, during and after the event. A big THANK YOU also to Inverclyde Velo, Harry and Alex for the financial support for all of the team during this adventure
Final bit of help from the boys before they headed back up home was to get me a big bag of ice from behind the bar for my knee which had swollen up a treat! We stayed around for the presentations then headed up to Chester to spend the night before returning home. I had a little snooze in the hotel before going out for something ‘real’ to eat then sat outside for a while in the cooler evening air, until that is I started to shiver and could not stop so I was ordered back to the hotel to get some sleep.
When I got home on the Monday I made an appointment with the Physio who diagnosed a problem with the cartilage on the inside of my right knee. Managed back on the bike after 10 days but still getting a little pain so will just be taking it easy for a few more weeks to allow it to clear.
Summary of the ride - 100 mile time 4:36:11, 12Hr distance 235.513 total distance 449.827 ( provisional result ) .My intention was to ride the race at an even pace with the hope of picking it up on the finishing circuit, as it went I dropped about 15 miles on the second 12 hours. Put most of that down to my knee as the rest of my body felt pretty good at the end of the race, what might have been? Who knows
Lessons learnt – High 5 energy bars are the most disgusting tasting energy food ever!!
Will I do it again? Never say never!!!
More pictures courtesy of George McCarter:
http://www.inverclydevelo.co.uk/gallery ... index.html
RTTC Championship 24HR 22/07/2006 table
http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/res ... 7&ID=51302