The short version- 112 miles, 12500 ft elevation, 10hrs 22 mins, strong SW wind, it was ridiculously hard at times, I loved most of it and I wasn't sick! I was delighted to have raised so much money for Macmillan...........you can still donate here The longer version: (it is quite long but I had a lot to tell you!) The Van ( Snail) was packed up and we left for the lakes with our shiny bikes (lovingly polished by Emma) on friday afternoon.
All week people were obsessed with the weather and how awful it may be on the day, high winds and possible rain predicted. I generally didn't pay too much attention, I would be going round whatever so why worry? I was determined to try and enjoy it all. I continued drinking beetroot juice for my muscles (yes I did have pink wee!) and started on the camomile tea to aid anxiety levels. I needed to stay as calm as possible so I could keep eating. We decided to cycle to registration on the saturday, it was only 2.5 miles and best to turn legs than get stiff I thought. It was all quite exciting, lots of people buzzing around and creating a good atmosphere. Seeing my name on the entrants board made my tummy flip-number 400, I liked it.
It was an official process, photo ID was essential to register and the timing chip was wrapped round your wrist. We met up with others riding, Leon,Paul, Craig and Simon (my riding buddy for the day) and also Jen who was kindly supporting us by being out on the course with bottles and extra food-fabulous. I knew I had friends at Whinlatter too so lots to look forward to.
That evening in the Snail I exchanged anxious messages with Simon about not going off too fast etc. I got everything prepared, checked it all 10 times, changed my mind about clothing 20 times and finally went to bed at 10pm. I did have some sleep and 5am came round quick. This is it, this the day I've been training for. I managed to eat a bagel with peanut butter and jam on it,
I was well pleased with myself. Got all my kit on and we pedalled to the start. It was quite cold and by now I felt quite sick. There were a lot of cars queueing to park, we made the right decision to ride, I began to hope that Simon wasn't stuck, I wouldn't be good waiting to start. Fortunately he wasn't, we exchanged looks of fear, excitement and nausea and headed to the start. I wished Emma good luck and we got our timers dibbed, we were off!
The sun was shining, it was cool and breezy. I couldn't believe I was doing it! We started steady, there is not really any warm up before the climbing starts, straight up Hawkshead Hill. The thing about the Fred is it talks about the big 7 passes but there are loads of other climbs too. The first big pass is Kirkstone, windproof off as now sweating. Pedal pedal. I Just kept thinking this is it, don' t ruin it by worrying about how you feel etc. Simon and I chatted, confirming to each other we still felt sick and we would just tap away until the finish. An ambulance passed us, a reminder to be careful on the descents, they can be lethal. The scenery is awesome and I kept trying to look around and appreciate it. I was feeling fine in my legs at this point-must be the beetroot juice! At Dockray we saw Jen and Steph with the Flanders flag, it was great stopping, having a drink, a coca cola, chatting about how we felt. 2 hours done, Simon and I high fived and moved on.
Onto the A66 to keswick, the headwind was strong, I tucked in behind Simon and after a little while he tucked in behind 2 other guys, excellent they can pull us, result. The road is major and traffic is fast, its quite unpleasant really, head down and pedal. Leon, Paul and Craig came past and shouted 'Hi', I liked this. Got to Keswick ok, toilet break, gel and drink.
Next stop Honister, an evil evil climb, so steep and narrow. Riders zig zagging, riders stopping and walking, people shouting, tourist cars wanting to pass, nightmare. I struggled up behind Simon, I was not going to stop here. At the top huge relief came over me, it was like I could really enjoy the ride now. The descent is tricky, my hands cramped a bit on the brakes.
On to Newlands, we decided not to stop at the feed station, we were ok and thought best to keep going. There were people cheering in a lot of places, I loved the support, I cheered back and thanked them. When they noticed it was a girl there was an extra cheer! We had quite a strong tailwind up Newlands pass which was nice but was an early sign of what was going to be hitting us in the face later on. I thought about riding in Lanzarote where the wind was very strong, it'll be ok. Somewhere along the way Chipps appeared on his Seven Cycles Sola 29er converted to road use, it was lovely to see another familiar face.
Whinlatter next, a more gradual climb and a party of friends waiting at the top. The climb seemed to go on a bit but the thought of Issy, Amanda, Sarah, Gemma and Kath made it easier. I passed Rick and he cheered me up to the girls,. I loved seeing them, it was so exciting, Kath rubbed my foot which was numb from the cold, I sat down with a jacket round me, drank coca cola and ate a sausage roll, I felt spoilt. Next to them was Jen and Steph again where Simon stopped, more chat and smiles before we headed off. 60 miles done, not doing bad at all. The fun with the wind began now. It was quite cold and extremely blustery, I knew it was going to go on like this for the next 30 miles, this was a real challenge. We climbed more hills and pedalled undulating roads, all into a very strong headwind, it was quite soul destroying at times, everyone was struggling with heads low, muttering how awful it was, and speed was nowhere to be seen. We kept looking out to sea, it was so rough and and amazing to look at, we chatted to distract ourselves, our average speed gradually reducing. I focused on all the money people had donated, it made me feel warm, so generous. I thought about being ill and how this feeling was a hundred times better than that. I looked forward to seeing Sellafield power station, the strangest view in the lake district but I love it. We would be able to say we did it in the 'really windy year 2012', extra kudos! Cold Fell was very hard.
Finally we turned east and the headwind became a side wind for a bit, a small relief. Our legs were tired now, really drained. We were now heading to the infamous Hardknott and Wrynose. Simon and I confirmed our probable need to walk early on, just had nothing in our legs now. Before we knew it it was there in the distance, in all its glory, even though it's so tough I loved looking at it snake up the mountain. The red phone box arrived, the lowest gear was selected, I made it over the cattle grid (some don't) and the real climbing began. So the trick is to only pedal hard when you absolutely have to, it all felt hard now though! There was a tailwind though, passed lots of walkers, push push, breathe! I zig zagged and twisted and turned, shouted at people to move to the side and stayed on the bike. The steepest bit (30 %) just caught Simon out so he waited at the top and cheered me up it, I couldn't talk at all. That was it, I was not stopping now, I kept going, pushing and pulling, finally the top arrived I had WON! Euphoria came over me. Its hard to whoosh down the other side, its super steep with hairpins, burning rubber from brake blocks style.
You can see Wrynose in front straight away, its steep but shorter than Hardknott. I was still high from Hardknott, the tailwind helped, even pushed extra hard when I didn't have to so the wind carried me up like a pro! High five at the top of Wrynose, 10 miles to go. We just went along as best we could, its not flat so still challenging. We ate gels and chews and pedaled. The lambs were bouncing around in the fields and I loved watching them. Finally the end was in sight, bit of a blur really, under an inflatable arch I think, Emma and others cheering us in.
Absolutely overcome with sense of achievement and excitement. 10 hours and 22 mins. After recovering Emma and I cycled 2.5 miles back to the campsite in the rain.... so I actually rode 117 miles:) I can honestly say I enjoyed nearly every minute, I was always going to finish and the experience will be left with me forever, all the hard training was worth it . The total raised for Macmillan is currently at £3390 and is still growing. I have paid back the money they gave me with huge interest so others can benefit too. I have learnt that if you want to do something and commit to it the chances are you will succeed, you don't really have to have a special ability just sheer determination! If you still want to donate please click here, it really will make a difference.
Thank you to..... My wonderful Emma who guided me through this, sacrificing training at her pace (she did it in 7hrs 31mins!) by training with me. I definitely wouldn't have done it without her constant encouragement, belief in me and her tolerance of me being tired and grumpy at times!
Everyone who donated.... I am still overwhelmed by the total so far.
Simon for being a great riding buddy on the
day and supporting my nerves:)
Garage bikes for my new tyres and zipvit energy chews-we had no punctures:)
Upgrade and Kinesis Uk for the Lezyne pump which I stole from Emma!
Cliff bars which I also stole from Emma's stash-yum.