What did you do at the weekend?0
I had set my self a tall challenge some months back and that was to take part in my first 100 Km charity cycling sportive. I am fairly new to road cycling after taking it up on a non competitive basis just over a year ago. Last summer I joined the novice section of Stratford Cycling Club and starting attending various coaching/training events to build up some road confidence and to have an understanding of road riding etiquette!
Then the perfect opportunity arose to take part in a local event, our cycling club together with Stratford Cycling festival were running a weekend of bike themed events, for all ages and abilities - this seemed the perfect one for me! So after I hastily submitted my entry form and fee back in March the huge task ahead suddenly dawned on me - that meant I was going to have to train really hard and learn how to ride up hills (something I had always tried to avoid). So I devised a 12 week training programme, which consisted of 3 or 4 rides a week, ranging from flat medium distance rides, to shorter blasts up hills (there are lots of them where I live so I had plently of choice!). Over the weeks my programme meant me spending longer and longer on the bike as I started to build up some endurance of 50 - 60 km.
Every spare moment I had, I was out on my bike and sadly that meant nearly every ride I did, meant I got very cold and wet - as the weather in April and May was terrible - I had to empty water from my shoes and wring out my clothes! On average I was covering around 120 Km a week and was slowly building up my strenght and fitness. It was also the time to look seriously at my bike - the one I owned was a second hand road bike from ebay - but it did the job but I needed a better machine so I took the plunge and purchased a very nice Cannondale CAD 10 ladies bike, which is so cool - I just love it!!
Two weeks before my event I had planned a trial 100K ride - so off I set. Everthing was going to plan, I was on schedule with my times (yes you guessed it - it was still raining) but then unfortunately I clipped the curb and was lauched head first into a ditch, hitting a tree on the way and doing some serious damage to my knee. I managed to limp/ride the 15 Km home in a lot of pain. My knee was the size of a balloon and I thought that was it - no chance of me competing in the event now. The doctors told me I needed to go to A&E as there seemed to be a lot of ligament damage but I didn't want to be told that I couldn't ride. So I ignored the advice and a week later set off on my bike again for some very short, painful rides. My knee was agony really but I just kept going out and building up strength.
Over the last two weeks, my knee got a little stronger and the weather started to get a little kinder. I looked at the forecast for Sunday 27th May - hot and sunny 27oC - wow that was going to be a challenge in itself riding in that heat but the day loomed and off I went.
The ride started at 8.15, with over 800 riders taking part. All the proceeds and fundraising from the event goes to a charity called CFC - Cyclists Fiting Cancer, they raise money for children with cancer. I managed the first 40 Km in a staggering 1 hr 30 mins, which was very quick but the hard part was yet to come as at 60 Km I had one of the biggest hills to climb in the Cotswolds - the dreaded 'Stanway'. Although not as steep as some hill, this one is a killer as it goes up and up for over 2.5 miles - once you think you are at the top, the climb rises again to the back of Broadway Tower. Well as you could imagine, the next 40 Km were a bit slower, with arrival at the next feed station at 80 Km some 2.5 hrs later! My legs were starting to hurt and the heat was getting to me but I was determined to push on as I knew my partner and two children were camped out at the side of the road some 5 km away, so I just had to get to them. It was so nice to see my two children shouting and waving me on - my son called out 'only 15km more mum'! That gave me the kick I needed, so the pace picked up and I really then started to think I was going to make it. My partner and kids when past me and they were heading back to the finishing line to take some photos. There was a few other smaller hills on the way back, and the legs were tired but I pushed on. Finally I reached Stratford and I knew I was nearly home, just a few Kms to do now. Once I entered the racecourse, I could see my children at the finishing line, jumping up and down with excitment. I finally crossed the finishing line in 5 hrs 46 mins (but that was with 45 mins of overall stopping/resting time), so my riding time for the 100K was 5 hrs.
I was so, so pleased to have finished (there were a few tears!) and to receive my medal was a very proud moment for me as I never thought I could achieve something like this. So now I am thinking of my next event but I think I will stay off the bike for a week or so!
I would like to sincerely thank Globalgraphics for supporting me with sponsorship - that was very kind. It gave me a real incentive to finish.
My friends all though I was totally mad - but my enthusiasm has started to rub off on them and they want to cycle too - so I have now set up a small, novice riding group every Thursday morning. We are all hoping the fine weather continues so we can enjoy our rides and our coffee stops!