It is always an un-known whether camping before an event is a good idea. I tend to be a good sleeper wherever I lay my head but the thought of getting up at 4am to go and cycle 107miles made me more than a little anxious. The dartmoor classic is well known by all road cyclists; it is one of the ones on the to-do list. In 2017 I took part in the Medio Dartmoor Classic which was 67miles, I did it with a friend, I had only just started to get into cycling so had absolutely no expectations. This time I knew what I should be capable of and wanted to get around feeling good and having achieved a decent time.
The sun came up and I was up and ready applying copious amounts of suncream due to the exceptionally hot weather. The forecast predicted a couple of light showers. I think all of the riders would be happy with a light splattering of rain amoungst the sunshine.
I was ready to go at the start line when I realised I was the annoying person who was at registration before it had even opened at 5am! I didn't mean to be but I wanted to make sure I was in the first wave of 200 riders to set off at 6am. The Dartmoor classic is so well swept up, the staff are amazing and it is extremely well organised. A heads up from me, you really don't need to be there a full hour before you want to start. Luckily there is coffee available.
So there I was near the front on the riders ready to go, I had seen a few friendly faces, these faces I knew would would be a blur of speed as soon as we got to the start. The Dartmoor Classic starts at Newton Abbot racecourse however the official start is two miles out of town at Clay-pits lane. This is done rightly so for safety reasons through the town. Those first few miles are pretty flat and the pace is ideal then BOOM the bleeper goes and the hills start. Some riders are so inspirational, they fly past, it looks effortless as I was already panting with a maximum heart rate.
Dartmoor is known for its hills, the grande has over 10,000ft of them to ascend. The first one gets you up high onto the moor, it feels great to be up and at it, then the Strava challenge happens. This is a killer, I have never gone for a record and have always been happy with my time, again riders race up the hill trying to get the fastest times they possibly can. At the top many people are sprawled out on the floor or retching, at this point we were only about 7miles into the route. I was glad to be taking it relatively steady.
The rest stops on the classic are at Princetown, if you complete the Medio you go through Princetown once, on the Grande twice. On the first time around I was feeling good, but I had pushed it a little to fast, 33miles very hilly miles in just over 2hours is way to fast for me. The rest stop is famous for homity pie; homity pie is a potato and cheese pie bourn in Devon and is amazing. sadly I couldn't face it at 8:30am but looked forward to it on my second time around.
Up out of Princetown and into the unknown 40miles that I had never seen or done before. Then it started....the torrential rain. Showers my arse. The rain continued for the next 5hours. It was so heavy at times I couldn't actually see the road. My glasses needed windscreen wipers, the roads turned into rivers and all of the suncream I so diligently put on was now in my eyes. It was pretty dangerous on some of the downhills I was reaching 30mph without being able to see correctly!
As I was pushing myself quite hard I started to get a horrible stomach ache, I sadly was struggling to eat or drink much and I was having a bad time. Cycling for that long on your own isn't really that fun especially in those weather conditions. I convinced myself to get to Princetown again for the second rest stop, see if I could eat anything, if I couldn't I would have to pull out. When I got there my stomach was at the worst it had been for the whole ride, severe cramps. Some tears and painkillers later I had to make the tough choice to continue or to stop. My body was telling me to stop but my pride and reluctance to let any of the thirty4thirty supporters down was to much. I continued, in pain but I thought it is only 35miles to go, I can push that out in pain.
It sure was a painful 35miles but the sun started to shine again about an hour from the finish. I was exhausted but elated that I had pushed myself through that. I really needed to get some food and drink on board before the drive home that evening. My Parents were at the finish line waiting for me, it is always the best feeling to get a well needed hug and a hot chocolate ;)
The Dartmoor Classic was a big milestone in the thirty4thirty challenge this year. Half way through the endurance events. 15 events down and 15 to go.
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