Starting at a car park in Hazel Grove there were only 6 or 7 riders ready for the off at 6am on Saturday. Perhaps it was the rain of biblical proportions on the Friday that had put more off – indeed it had convinced me to fit mudguards to my bike in readiness. The ride had 3 only 3 controls based around stops for food and so was broken down well. One of the keys mentally for a long ride is not to think about the total distance, but the section you are riding on now. The GPS routing had separate files to each stop which helped in this respect.
The ride started off by climbing up to Buxton and then dropping down to Ashbourne. The so-called Long Hill proved to be exactly that with a circa 5 mile grind up. Diverting from the route slightly we followed the A515 from Buxton to Ashbourne, and at that stage in the early morning there was no sign of rain – although the wind was very strong blowing from the south-west to the north-east, meaning it was generally unhelpful. My aim was to reach the first stop, Hatton, in around 3 hours which I duly did and refuelled with egg and beans on toast. The next section promised to be relatively flat but it wasn’t really – it was undulating constantly. The weather was looking fine now, with hints of blue sky and no sign of the forecast rain. I was joined by another rider who, if I’m honest, was slightly too fast for me, and although I was never uncomfortable keeping up, I was never entirely comfortable either. So, riding quicker than I expected we arrived in Kenilworth at the half way point at about 12-30pm – which was a good half hour ahead of where I wanted to be. We ate outside in the middle of a French market, watching a guy demonstrate and sell garlic graters. The route back was virtually a repeat of the route out – interestingly passing through Meriden, the home of the memorial to those cyclists who died in the First World War.
The slight deviation to the route back was via Uttoxeter, the 3rd and final control. At this point I was very, very tired, and slumped outside a Spar to eat nuts and drink as much fluid as I could stomach. My legs felt very heavy as we departed, knowing there was a climb out of Ashbourne and also one into and out of Buxton to come. The last section, thankfully, was downhill, and I reached the finish around 7-30pm, but it had severely taken it out of me.
Ride Stats : 190 miles in 11hrs 47m at 16.1mph average. 11,283ft climbed, average HR 141bpm, 8935kcals used