Having my hand forced by injured participants, I nervously jumped up a group, from Slouch to Fast and we set off about 20 minutes after the Elite group. I very quickly found the pace too much to sustain and had pains, with only 10 miles completed and a decision I might regret, I persuaded Steve and his group to completely desert me. 1 mph slower and my stamina seem to recover, but the pain seemed to continue until, cursing my pre-race tinkering, I noticed my saddle was 2 inches too low. It was like a different set of legs had taken over, well for another 10 miles or so, just coming in towards the 1st stop, my legs felt heavy once again, looking down I now realised that the saddle was actually slipping down until it hit the reflector bracket. Had someone had oiled my shaft the night before! Just like when you are camping a couple of big leaves, seem to wipe most of it off, clamp up super tight and why, why did I not do that earlier.
My target time was eight hours with 7 hours cycling, averaging 15 mph seem possible and now checking with my only friend left, Mr Strava, he was telling me it was possible, but tight. I started to feel more confident, but knew all too well what the last 10-20 miles would feel like, also knowing the wind had little affect so far, so I knew it would not be long til it did. After lunch at 47miles, I managed to get in a little group and stayed with them for 5 or so miles, which was a welcome relief, but apart form a few more short tows that was about the only drafting I got. I bimbled on, cursing a bit and enjoying it at times, but the last 35 miles were windy and tough, the last 20 very tough, but I could not give up, after all, I am a Gauntleteer. I had 3 stops, drunk 4 litres of fluid and gel ran through my veins, bowl of spicy pasta for lunch and 4 bananas saw me through. If it had gone slightly better, yes I could have gone maybe 1mph faster, if I had not mended someone’s chain I could have saved some time and yes if I had not stopped at all I could have shaved off another 50 mins, but incredibly even with all this, I would still be a full hour slower than the Elite Surfer group – Very Impressive. That will be difficult to pull back in the 10K.
Highlight, the fool who thought he could keep up with me down a steep descent with a tight sandy corner at the bottom. I got the turn-in right, hit the apex as my Rossi gate leg clicked back on to the pedal, giving me enough time to turn and see him cross the road and use the opposite bank to stop himself. I did warn him and getting my foot down must have given him a clue.
Lowlight, realising I have not trained enough and as always, the last 10 miles, although there were still some to overtake this year.
I was not quick, but some 40 mins quicker than last year, mainly pushing forward on my own, so a great sense of achievement and as always, well organised and well catered, way of seeing our lovely county.