It all started in 2010. I dug out my old mountain bike from the shed so I could cycle to the pub to watch England play football in the world cup in South Africa. Enough said about that debacle.
I got the bug to keep riding my bike together with trying to shake off a foot injury from playing football. I needed to keep fit, apart from training in a gym. I was aware of Bobby on a Bike as I work alongside Neil Smith.
I fancied a challenge and the coast to coast ride turned out to be more than that. The distances were increasing on the mountain bike and I eventually stumped up the cash for a road bike for the ride. The thought of my love handles being even more obvious after pouring myself into Lycra wasn’t a pleasant thought, but it had to be done. Slip streaming a breeze block may just help. I started off with shorts which were enough for some to question which closet I had leapt out of.
The new bike felt easy, but the ultra hard tyres made up for that in other areas down below. I searched for knowledge from the experienced. Fortunately I didn’t rush to the idea of putting a Chamois Leather inside my shorts, as I thought this is what was meant by someone in the know. What they really meant was Chamois Cream or better known as Bum Butter, get it? Use it or there could be a fire down below !! This ride can’t be done in the standing up position.
As my confidence grew so did my wardrobe of Lycra, fancy shoes, pedals, hats, gloves, sunglasses and the butter. The love handles were in decline and I thought my stamina had improved.
A 62 mile jolly to my parents gave me the confidence I was seeking. The journey made all the better for energy bars, glucose, peanut butter Hobnob sandwiches and handfuls of jelly beans. All that sugar and I couldn’t blame a single baked bean for my unfriendliness.
The big day arrived and we huddled into the Aldeburgh Lifeboat station for a sausage sandwich and a cup of PG Tips send off. It was chilly until we warmed up. No wind and all seemed to be going well.
This was the last and only time we remained as a group. My new mate Chris, unbeknown to him, was to help me stick it out to the end. We became better known as the ‘Rear Gunners’ as we made a habit of rolling in late.
Twenty five into the ride and after the first water stop someone thought a bit of headwind should join in for the next 2 days. I was in need of an electric bike or a bus going in the same direction. This was hard, so bloody hard, but if you say you are going to meet a challenge head on, the wind was my new challenge.
The evenings were peaceful and the food most welcome. Why ? The wind had dropped off. The resident Chef did himself proud and then let it all go the last night. If only he could remember it all.
Day 3 was always talked up as the tough day. Tough it was with gusts of wind and a shower to add. The views were fantastic. Fantastic because of the hills. Hills!!!!!!!!!! Hills that brought a few tears at the end of the day, but what a feeling of achievement.
The Hostel with heating got my 5 star rating, even if it was just for the heating. Neil took my order for my Steak and Chips end of ride meal, which now was just 24hrs away.
The final day and the Welsh Valley’s. Breath taking going up hill and more breath taking for the views. I didn’t whistle the Dam Buster theme tune once on the circumference of the reservoirs.
Forty Five miles from the finish and my right leg says enough is enough as did the cleats on my shoes. Toe clips and trainers were fitted by the brilliant support crew, who were there for every requirement you asked of them. However, they did pass on the application of the Bum Butter.
The finish was in sight. A dead straight road, only the Romans could have built. I bet they didn’t have this gale force wind to work in though. We are staying at a caravan site they kept telling me. We were, but not at the three we passed to the finish. We made it over the line with a burst of energy and a smile for the camera. A sausage sandwich was waiting for us. Had I left this behind at the start?
Off to the Caravan site. Fantastic club house and a well stocked bar, which took a hammering from the off. A quick shower whilst everyone lined up for the meal. That steak chips was a lovely idea and probably tasted just as good, if only I could find out the bugger who ate it for me!!
There’s no denying it, this was a tough ride, but if you quit you’ll never know just how tough. Grind it out to the end. The reward of patting yourself on the back is a tremendous feeling and achievement. Why am I doing it again this year despite saying never again :-
1. The views
2. The team support
3. A personal achievement
4. To enjoy the first 2 days. (fingers crossed for little or no wind)
5. To have that promised Steak and Chips at the end.
I’ll be the one at the back blowing like a whale.
See you there!