What a peculiar set of feelings. The day before the ride I laid out and checked my kit to make sure everything was there, the bike carrier went on the back of the car, all the kit went into the boot, my watch and phone were fully charged and my drinks and snacks were all made up ready to go. It just felt so weird to be doing all this again after such a long layoff, almost out of body, a latent memory that took me through the steps and all because I was going to get up at half past you must be joking to take part in my first mass participation event since March.
So, up with the owls and bats, strap the bike to car, drive, park, dress, load on the fuel, head to registration, tie on my number, last minute jitters, queue for the start, ride briefing, start my watch, and step on the pedals. And then it hit me, wind that must have been summoned up by the Halloween witches. Gusty, intense, from the side, head on, from the other side, and, if only to taunt, an occasional puff from the tail ( not a euphemism). And then, the rolling hills.
Struggling on a climb? Here have a blast of face of wind to go with it.
Like some rain with that squire? There you go.
Sunshine? Only if you’re riding into it.
See that bend in the road? Well this North Norfolk so when you get round it there’s a big hill.
See that wet patch across the road? That’s full of crap that is.
Ahhhh! Will this joy never end?
Then a mile from the end, cycling bliss . As I topped the final hill the sun came out, the road gave way to a long, straight descent, the wind turned onto my back and the finish lay in sight. I stopped pedalling and let it take me and I felt – happy.
78.3 miles later, fully accompanied with cramp in my legs, feet and shoulders – I rolled over the finish line. A medal, a ruff, a protein bar and a pair of lovely pink socks I can wear under my overshoes all helped to ease the memory. Back again next year I think.
I read Ross Edgeley’s book the Art of Endurance over the summer and something that sticks in mind is the idea that no matter how bad things can be they will always end, once you accept that then all you have to do is concentrate on what’s affecting you right now. I reminded myself of this a few times on the ride – it helped a lot.