Posted by: Emily | September 7, 2010

The Tour of Britain – not just for the professionals

The human body has an amazing capacity to endure, and forget, pain. Within hours of returning to London after completing the Tour of Wessex back in June, I was already looking for the next challenge. I soon found it. The South West Pro Tour Ride – a replica of Stage Four of this year’s Tour of Britain. The exact same route, Minehead to Teignmouth, the professionals will be doing on Tuesday 14th September. With 175km and three King of the Mountain hills it looked like quite a ride. Ian agreed and signed up as well.

Before taking part in the Tour of Wessex I’d done a significant amount of training and was regularly doing 60+ mile rides. By contrast, in the run-up to this I’d done very little specific training. It was only a few days prior to the ride that I started worrying and wondering whether a bit more preparation might have been wise.

As it turned out, I was right to be concerned about my lack of training. The ride was tough and relentless. Because there were only three King of the Mountain hills, I’d somehow managed to forget that you can barely cycle anywhere in Somerset (or Devon it seems) without having to navigate ascents that make Swain’s Lane in London seem like a gentle slope. The first of the billed hills came almost immediately and no sooner had we descended back to sea level than we were rising again for the second major climb. Although they were tough ascents, I didn’t struggle too much with either. Sadly, the same could not be said for the third – Peak Hill. It might have been short, just 1km, but coming at the 130km point and with a 20% gradient it was also sharp. Before long I was on foot, pushing myself and my bike up the hill. In the distance I could see Ian making fantastic progress. As I finally made it to the top, still on foot, he was waiting, looking cool, calm and very collected. Paula was also there, once again providing the kind of support that I doubt the even the professional riders get. Ham rolls were plentiful, as was the hot tea (and encouragement!).

The remaining 45km passed in an uphill haze and after eight hours* of cycling, significantly more of real time, we were crossing the finish line at Teignmouth to the sound of claps and cheers from the crowd. It was a great feeling.

Despite a splitting headache the night before (Ian), feeling nauseous for the first half (me), two punctures (Ian’s), a fall (mine – no damage to bike or rider) and a seemingly endless stream of hills it was a fantastic ride and a really wonderful day. All that remains now is to find the next one…

*Ian’s true ride time will never be known. He waited for me to cross the finish line and unfortunately had a tech malfunction with his Garmin which resulted in his stats not being saved.


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