Staffs to Snowdon Update: Moors & Shores

Sunday I entered an organised ride in and around Dalby Forest near Scarborough. It was 100km long which is 60 miles, which just happens to be half the distance of my next challenge on the 22nd of this month.

The decision to take part was a last minute thing and with a 3 hour drive to get there I decided to leave on the Saturday evening at about 8pm and get into the forest area before grabbing a few hours sleep in the back of the car. I found a hidden away car park so I was nicly hidden from passing forest staff. All was good until the event staff started turning up at 4am and i relised i had parked about 6 foot from the road, the car park road had doubled back on itself and all that separated my quiet spot from the road was a couple of trees and a grass bank. So the first lesson was sneaking in late at night to a forest that you have never been to before is not such a good idea. So after the 7th car had illuminated my car I decided to head up to the event field and get myself ready.

Registration was from 6:15am, I was the first one to register, which is not surprising really, then i just had to wait for the coffee stand to open.

This ride was going to be a great way for me to test my bike set up and see what was working and not working before my longer rides. The terrain was a mixture of road, gravel track, moors, coastal path and forest red route. A bit of everything really. I had decided to ride towards an average speed of 20kph and an average cadence of 80 rpm (revolutions per minute). This means I should have a total riding time of 5 hours and I had allowed upto 1 hour for breaks, giving me a total ride time of 6 hours.

They set the riders off in groups of 20 and I decided to join the 2nd group and stayed at the back. this put 39 riders in front of me and got rid of all the fast hero riders. I settled into a nice steady pace but had to resist trying to ride with other people. It is crucial that i ride to suit my speed and fitness. I know it takes me about 30 minutes to settle into the ride and I couldn’t waste any energy at such an early stage.

I did pass a few people early on and I settled into my average speed quite well. It was only about 4 miles in when I had my first issue. Riding on a flat gravel track and just going through a few minor pot holes, so minor I was amazed that my water bottle in my brand new rear of my seat holder fell out. So I turned round to recover it and have all those riders i had passed fly by me. Grabbed the bottle from the floor only to discover the bottle cage had broken, not very impressive and I was a bit annoyed. i had to rejig my stuff to make room for the bottle. In the other cage was my tool kit in my new tool carrier, this was wedged so tightly in I had no worries of that falling out. So back on the bike and now i was in hunting down mode to make up the ground I had lost, and to recapture those riders that were now long gone. But it is not a race they said at the start line…… Yeh, right!!!

My next issue was just at the end of the moors section which in itself was a challenge on my thin gravel tyres, Peaty wet mud and 38mm wide tyres do not go well. The final grassy descent was a bit slippy as well. But now I was back on gravel and i could make up some ground. I was heading down a long track in the right hand rut, riding on the drops and going fairly fast, so fast infact that I did not see those big, long deep pot holes. There was an almighty crash and bang and i though my ride was over. I was almost to scared to look at the bike as i felt like I must have broken the frame or buckled the wheels. But all that had happened was my water bottle from my downtube had fallen out. So it was back up the track to the offending holes and start the search for the bottle. i eventually found it about 12 feet to the left and 20 foot forward from the holes. What a jolt that must have been. I got back on the bike and again went into hunting mode after my 2nd delay. Little did I relise that my tool kit had also been ejected from my bike.

I was about 10 miles from the pot hole number 2 spot when i thought about my tool kit and I reached behind to make sure it was okay. Gone, oh bugger, shall I stop and go back to find it? not bloody likely, the chances of finding it were so remote I just put it down to a learning curve and took some comfort that somebody may benefit from my loss. But now I was riding with no tools or spare tubes, with about 40 miles to go. I did have Stans in my tubes so now is not the time to worry, just keep on going.

I reached the 2nd Feed station and was chatting to a guy about how our rides had gone so far, I had just mentioned my lost tool kit and one of the guys on the feed station said that someone had just this second handed it in and he produced it from under the table. the guy that handed it in had just left and I would have loved to thank him so can only hope he reads this one day so he knows how thankful I was. Although I was also quite excited about having to buy more bikey bits. I also decided that i had had all the bad luck stuff happen and I was going to finish the day without any more issues.

The coastal path was great, all very slightly uphill but smooth, and fast. The rest of the ride was pretty much great riding from there on to the end. I had totally relaxed with riders passing me and passing other riders, I had entered my zone and was feeling good. Finally i was riding my race with me, and harmony was all around.

A couple of conversations with other riders who were also doing The Dirty Reiver so we chatted about that and everyone kept on about saving some energy for the final ascent.

So we were back in the forest and the end was getting close. from my calculations I was going to be close to my target time of 5 hours, but how close I did not know. I started the last ascent and being totally honest it was only as steep as one of the training hills on Cannock Chase. A hill I had come to love over the last few months. So i settled into my usual pace and started reeling in other riders. i past a total of 14 riders on the hill (but it is not a race) giving them all words of encouragement, which is the last thing you need when your heart is beating outside your chest and your toungue is dryer than sandpaper. Come on you can do it!!!! lol.

A final bit of single track and some gravel roads, then the finish line. To be greeted with a medal and the girl said I was the first epic rider back. I knew she was wrong but she insisted so I smiled for the camera and basked in my moment of glory. I collected my official time print out which said 5 hours and 9 minutes. Gutted and happy at the same time.

You can watch my ride here:

It wasn’t until i got home and checked my ride on Strava that I saw my ride time was in fact 4 hours, 59 minutes and 40 seconds with only 39 minutes rest or issue time. I had achieved my target time. I have invaluable info on how the big feels over a good distance on different terrain. I have a good understanding of how my body reacts to body position on the bike and loads more stuff that will make me more efficient on future rides.

Just a 3 hour drive home then I can relax.

from my blog

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