A couple of firsts, it was the first time I have ever done a sponsored cycle ride and it was the first time I have ever cycled more than 25 miles in a single ride. To day was the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Dorset Bike Ride, the start (and finish) was at Queen Elizabeth School Wimbourne. Having read the info that came with my registration I decided that I wanted to be in the main car park (limited parking) so it meant getting up at silly o’clock on a Sunday morning to get to the school nice and early. Well we manage to get there a little to early but hey we had a choice of parking spots.
After the weeks glorious sunshine Sunday dawned damp, drizzly and cold not an ideal start to the day, in fact it was that cold I contemplated wearing my trousers and long sleeved top but I ended up with my short sleeved top and shorts. Waiting for the off, my time was spent viewing the array of bikes that were going to be ridden and making frequent trips to the loo, that liquid intake had to go somewhere!
As nine o’clock arrived the crowd gathered at the start line and as the horn sounded for the off I was to be seen cycling in the opposite direction round the car park, I decided there no point me being at the front so decided to wait till the rush had gone. Well at about 3 minute past 9 (according to my son) I crossed the line and followed the mass of cyclist down the main road for a 100yds and then onto a narrow country lane. One poor Land Rover driver never knew what hit him he was faced with a couple of thousand cyclist forcing him up the bank as we manoeuvred ourselves down the narrow lane, that one up for the cyclists.
Slowly the field started to spread out, I had no idea where I was going but as there were other riders in front of me I did not care, I just followed them. Now that was OK until we came to the point where the 25 mile route split from the main route, then suddenly there is only two other riders in front of me (at least within sight) and within a couple of hundred yards they were behind me. It was shortly after this that I found the only hill I could not conquer and ended up taking my bike for a walk (somebody said there were no hills??) to the sound of the local Witchampton church bells. I was soon back on my bike and making the most of the downward run.
I had been very concious of not racing off to fast as I did not want to burn myself out by the half way mark, I made the most of the downhill sections and coasted. I tried to find somebody to ride with but I could not find anybody at the same speed as me and when I slowed down to their pace I would found myself on there back wheel wanting to overtake them so I ended up riding at my own pace. A few more hills came and went as I slogged my way up them. The most disheartening moment came when I came across a sign which said 7 miles to go, I thought it was around 3 or 4 miles to go.
Around the same time as the 7 mile sign I noticed I was not passing many riders, at one point I was beginning to wonder if I was on the correct road, fortunately one of the BHF sign posts put my mind at rest. Apart from a couple of downhill section this was probably the fastest I had pedalled all day a nice straight flat section of road within 4 miles of the finish. Not sure where to energy came from for this fast pedal, might have been the energy bar I ate a little while earlier, I just enjoyed whizzing a long. It wasn’t long before I recognised a road junction and realised where I was (or at least confirmed my thoughts) I was within half a mile of the finish. The only problem with that was there was a horrible little hill to climb on the main road back to the school.
Near the top of the hill there was a cycle path\pavement so I took to the cycle path and headed for home, as I rounded the corner I could see the wife and son camera in hand waiting on the pavement outside the school. I whizzed past them into the car park and across the line. A quick check of the clock on the school wall showed that I had completed the 25 miles in 2hrs 15 minutes, at least that what I thought. My wife and son caught up with me and informed that I had done the 25 miles in 2hrs 3 minutes and I was about the 10th finisher from the 25 miler (as it is not a race the BHF don’t record times of finishing places), either way, I was well impressed, I never realised I was going that fast.
I will post sometime next week how much I have collected for my bike ride.