02 November 2008

BHF bike ride day...

Well, I did it! The weather didn't help but I completed the 36 miles around Sherwood Forest. Looking back, the weather could well have been much worse than it actually was, but it was still pretty grim and, as a result of heavy overnight rain and constant rain today, the forest trails were far from ideal at times.

Lynda and I arrived at the Sherwood Pines complex at just after 9:00AM, by 9:15AM the bike was assembled and I was ready to head off to the registration area. As my route wasn't scheduled to open until 10:00AM I spent a little time fine tuning my brakes that had decided to stick a little - it turned out that I hadn't quite aligned the front wheel correctly in the rush to get it done in the pouring rain! My fault then, not the bike's!

Waiting for the off.

At exactly 10:00AM an air horn sounded and we were off. I'd decided to hang back at the start of the ride and take my time to see just what the trails were like and how my ageing bike (and bones) would cope with the conditions. By the end of lap one I had managed to wind my way past many of the other riders and started to up my pace a little. The first 6-mile lap took me half an hour - I was right on the 12 mph pace that I had wanted. On a dry day in summer, if we ever get one of those, I reckon the trails would be good for a 15 or 16 mph pace on my rigid framed bike.

Countdown to the start.

Rolling up to the start.

Crossing the start line.

The end of lap one.

Laps two and three saw the mud and slime on the trails start to increase and saw me starting to change from clean to grubby, I was still smiling though and enjoying every minute of the ride. It was on lap three that I started to feel like I needed a drink. After looking down at my water bottle I decided it would be better to take advantage of the British Heart Foundation feeding station instead. The idea of drinking from my bottle just did not appeal! It was covered in even more sand and mud than I was! After a quick stop for water I set off again.

Coming to the end of lap two.

Lap 3, and still it rains.

The next lap was one of my best, quite a few people had given in to the conditions and called it a day - not surprising really as many of them were families riding with children - and this meant I could up the pace a little. The only problem with doing that was that even more of the mud and slime got thrown up from my wheels and all over me! My boots and trousers were now caked in very gritty mud; my feet were also getting wet. I didn't know just how wet until I attacked one of the steeper climbs. As I got around half way up the hill I felt the water in my boots move down hill, from my toes to my heels! Yuck!

My penultimate lap will be forever known as "The Lonely Lap". I never saw a single rider for the whole six miles! If the trails hadn't been so muddy I could have really had some fun on the fast downhill sections. As it was, I decided that staying upright was a more prudent idea! If I had pushed a little too hard and bitten the dirt I guarantee it would have been where Lynda was stood with the camera - that I did not need!

Crossing one of the flooded parts of the trail - lap 5.

The final lap, the one that took my mileage from 30 to 36 miles, was a hard one. I made the mistake of stopping for a drink of orange at the feeding station and I never managed to quite get into my rhythm again. It was also the only time that anyone overtook me on the course. This minor little thing didn't sit well with me and, even though this was NOT a race event, by the end of the lap I had managed to get back past the rider and put around a quarter of a mile between us by the end.

Crossing the finish line.

Having finished my ride the only thing left was to pack everything back into the car and head for home, then I saw just how dirty all of my gear was. There was no way I could put the bike in the car as it was. Luckily, we found a hosepipe hidden away down the side of a building and put it to good use. The water was only trickling from the hose but it removed enough of the forest from the bike to allow us to get home without destroying the interior of the car. The rest I dealt with at home with our hose and a much stronger jet of water.

Nice, eh?

Now you can see why I didn't bother with my drink!

Will they ever be the same again?

The 36 miles took me 3 hours and 5 minutes. At the moment I feel fine - no worse than if I'd just done my daily commute to work in fact. Tomorrow, I may feel different. Would I do it again? Right now, the answer has to be yes. I would order a few weeks of cold, frosty weather leading up to the event and for the day itself!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone that was kind enough to sponsor me. I hope I earned your money!

1 comment:

  1. Surely Lynda would have spared you the camera's eye had you fallen in the mud
    **rolling eyes and laughing smiley here**
    I think it's a wonderful thing you do to raise money for such a good cause.