|at the start|
The day started hotter than it did last year. The forecast was for a very hot day. Maybe Adam at Larner Cycles must have ticked the wrong box when he booked the weather. Instead of warm, he ticked incredibly hot.
I arrived early but there was already a number of people chatting and preparing.
I again hoped to team up with someone who cycled at the same pace as me, it's a long ride on your own. And I did; Jo who I had meet at an off road cycle event before Christmas.
Her target was an average of 16mph, this is faster than my average on a long ride. But I wanted a challenge.
It was going okay until a very steep section on to the Limpsfield just passed Wallingham. I was slower and took longer to turn right at the junction. Jo had opened a big gap and no matter how hard I tried I could only reduce it very slowly. Then just at the right time a pair of cyclist came past me. I got into their slipstream and very quickly caught Jo up. I was amazed at how much of a difference it made.
From then on Jo and I swapped the lead and we kept a high average speed. So much so that we reached the lunch stop faster than I expected. Over thirty miles in a little more than two hours.
The food stops on last years event were brilliant, and this year the standard was just as high. The lunch stop especially had sandwiches, cake everything I needed. We stayed a while but when we got outside the heat had increased and this, I think, caused me to really start to suffer. It's true the pace was higher than I was use to. But cycling in now 33 degrees C was proving very difficult. Jo said it was okay if I didn't spend so long leading, drafting her helped me maintain a reasonable pace. But there was little respite from the sun. A surprising consequence of the heat was when we stopped at a junction. It was like opening an oven door. I was warm as I cycled along, but pausing for any reason. The heat just hit me. The shaded sections were a relief, but they were too few.
At the third and last stop I just sat on the grass, I didn't know how was I going to complete the last sixteen miles.
I had some food and drink but still wasn't ready to go on. I got chatting to the other riders and one of them, Pat from the Oxted CC, handed me two energy gels. He said they should help me get to the end. They did.
This is another great aspect to the ride. The support, encouragement and camaraderie from everyone involved makes a real difference.
|Jo looking unfazed|
|Me, looking very fazed|
A big thank you to everyone involved in running the event. It's a big job very well delivered.