I was ready and prepared to enter the RAB (Ride Across Britain) bubble again. I had missed my little green tent to welcome me home, the other riders, the daily achievement, the sore legs and being able to eat copious amount of delicious food. September 2017 seemed like the distant past for me however, even though I have been training hard for all of the 30 endurance events this year for thirty4thirty I still was apprehensive of my riding ability, over the winter months I was mainly training on the turbo inside and before the event only a few longer rides. I may have been worried but not as worried a my brother-in-law Simon who agreed to take part in the event with me; even though a fit guy it would be his first ever organised event. I could just imagine the nerves he must have been feeling the morning we started.
Simon and I were also joined by another RAB veteran and friend of mine who is a speed demon on the bike, Michelle. It was lovely to have a little team of us to start. We were all there in plenty of time, but with all of the faffing it takes with a bike - layers on, layers off, bananas in pockets, dark sunnies or light sunnies, last minute tyre pressure checks - so we missed our original start time of 7am and ended up leaving at 7:30am.
Even though it was an early start on a Saturday morning London was still busy, the first 10 miles took as about 1.5hours of stopping and starting at traffic lights until we reached Crystal Palace where it seemed to relax slightly. As there were so many cyclists on the event the London traffic wasn't as daunting as I would normally find it.
Once we were into Surrey our speed picked up. We admired the lovely houses and quant villages being mindful not to fall down a HUGE potholes! Where have they come from? I am sure the beast from the East will be blamed for them also.
The first rest stop is always a welcome sight. How many treats can I eat within a 5 minute period and how many snacks can I fit into my jersey? Many is the answer. My usual conundrum is going to the toilet before or after stuffing my face. Cycling gear is not the most attractive normally but when you pretty much have to be naked to get your bib-shorts off that is even worse. Sadly for me this means pee stops can really only be accomplished at rest stops, otherwise I am found to be naked on the side of the road and may get arrested for indecent exposure.
We were well on out way to the second rest stop, feeling good, Titsey hill was over. It was 12:46 and the heavens opened. The curse of the 2017 RAB was back. Please rain rain go away and come again another day. It really went for it, the roads turned into rivers, my very minimal waterproof jacket did nothing other than stick to my skin but on the upside at least we could no longer see the pot holes.
Just keep swimming (literally). The second pitstop came and went. At this point a feeling of ease always pass's over me. I know I can make it, another 31miles can be done no problem even if I crawl. The rain however didn't let up, it just kept getting heavier, luckily we didn't get cold but were dying to get to the finish and see that little green tent.
Dulux and the Threshold team had created an amazing festival finish. Sadly the rain stopped most of the fun. However, our family who had come to support found a space in the big red Pimms bus! I have discovered that two glasses of PImms is the best thing for rehydration ever. (My coach my not agree).
It stopped raining late in the evening just in time to snuggle up in my green tent and try to get some sleep. I am not sure about all of the other riders but I slept like a baby. A 5am alarm call is never lovely and putting on damp cycling kit is even worse. I decided to do it all as quickly as possible and get some breakfast. This meant I likely missed the epic line for food and was again filling my face.
Our mini team of three re-grouped put on squelchy cycling shoes and started another day of cycling. It wasn't raining so that was a bonus. Day 2 is 86miles compared to day 1 of 101miles. However, it seems longer, it is hillier and I think tired legs can make it more of a challenge. We rolled into the Chillterns, the road seemed quieter and I think there were less potholes however, that could just be optimism. We then faced Kop hill. Kop hill is like the devil of the Dulux Revolution, it is talked and whispered about by the other riders. Yes, it is a big hill but it is manageable. Take it easy in whatever way suits you and you will make it. If you come from Holland maybe train on some hills first. Preparation is always key and to be good at hills you must ride hills.
We had reached check point 2 on day 2 and I had to find suncream, unlike the day before I was starting to burn. It was super hot, what a difference a day makes. After a short stop we wanted to crack on and finish in a good time, we were aiming to finish by 2:30pm...
We were getting closer to the end, up and over more hills, past a street that looked like it should be a new TV series called the "housewives of Enfield", we were only about 6 miles away at this point. even through my Garmin had died I could tell we were close just by the crazy driving, I had two close calls in the last 6 miles and I may have given out a couple of hand gestures also.
On we peddled as fast as we could to Lee Valley Athletics centre, to the finish, to family and to a glass of prosecco. A massive achievement to cycle 300km and 360degrees around our capital.
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