It wasn't an ideal build up to this race as I started working full-time on monday, this also meant my taper didn't really happen and I rode for 8.5 hours although I did try and take it easy but the odd sprint to get to the front of the group still happened. On thursday night I changed the tyres on rigger and tried to put the rear wheel back on. It was now a quick release after Cooksons had changed the drop-outs on wednesday evening. Only it didn't work? My fault for only taking the wheel in and not the bike! I had to push hard to get it in and then when it was tight it just didn't pedal forward, yet the wheel went backwards. I really thought I was being dumb! All this meant I had to ride to work on friday, at least it was only 8miles. Ali then went to Cooksons at lunch, they dropped everything to look at it but were not 100% sure what is going on they thought that was the wrong time to play about and put the old bolts back on, leaving the quick release to be sorted after the race. Once this had been done I got a text from Ali, she had taken the afternoon off to sort everything and try and get Mel the mini's air-con fixed (this failed which made the trip up to Scotland very hot). She also said she could collect me, which saved my legs the uphill ride home. Ali being off and me being in a school meant we were on the road before 6pm and even with a long stop at tesco we arrived at the Campsite with lots of daylight. This meant stressy trio stayed hidden away. As we were driving in the velocake called out to us and we got a spot for our tent with them. I even got to register on the friday night and annoy lots of people with my talking! Once it got dark I headed to bed, not that I could sleep but at least I was resting!
It was light nice and early on saturday and I could hear movement on the campsite but I was staying curled up in my sleeping bag as long as possible. Once I got up I did my usual walking round in a daze till Ali fed me porridge for breakfast. Everyone else seemed to be in race kit but I was in my pink PJ's. Ali got my old Garmin attached to the bike with the charger in my feed bag on the top-tube (the new replacement one having crashed and died!) I had a little panic and got food bags ready and discussed with Ali what I needed her to have ready - she had been really organised and got a whiteboard to keep everything organised.
Lap 1 I was taking it easy but felt like I was really flowing in the descents, at this point thanks must go out to the pump track at lee quarry! Climbing up a fireroad halfway round I look down to see front quick release undone, opps wonder when that happened? I had wondered on the descent if my headset was lose, no just the wheel! Lap 2 it was getting hotter, I was being sensible and walking more hills, but still feeling like it was easy, probably going too slow. Lap 3 and I'd had enough, I couldn't believe I was battling myself to carry on. Everyone said I had the right mental attitude for this, that is my strong point in endurance stuff usually. I was walking when I could ride as 'I couldn't be bothered'. Remembering Kate's advice that if I wanted to stop do one more lap I headed out. Didn't work, I was practically walking descents on this lap I was so not in the mood! I came in and told Ali that was me done, I was stopping, my head had gone. I was going to wait till it cooled down and go to bed. She was worried about me, my head was apparently really hot and the last thing she had expected was me to be wanting to stop so early. So stop I did, she fed me fluids and got me a chicken, cheese and salsa wrap from the caterers and got me to sit in the shade. A bit before 8pm she put me on my bike and made me go out again. I was not a happy trio - did she not understand I had pulled out, loads of others had it wasn't just me? On that lap I started debating how many laps I would do (before the event I had been thinking 14 was probably the best I could aim at from the distance of the course but without riding the actual course it was hard to say). I was thinking 10 was a good number, well over the magic 100miles, but it would be another 5laps after finishing that one. Went out again and decided that I was happy with 9, 10 was the aim and 11 would be fantastic. I now had an aim! But I still was thinking of stopping in the night to sleep. Each lap it got better and 10 was seeming possible, eventually I worked out I would get 12 done if I kept lapping as I was till the end. A bottle of vimto on the 10th lap - where I kept finding myself riding with my eyes shut - some riding chatting to Jac, and I felt on fire. I think it was the magic vimto (maybe they should sponser me ;-) ) I was flying up hills on lap 11, thinking I put a good couple of laps in and I may just manage 13! A change of clothes and instructions to Ali and I was back out on the course.
A bit of wandering round, remember to let Joolze take my after picture and I was off to get changed and watch the prize-giving. All that was left was pretend to help Ali pack up and head home.
In the end I was really pleased, yes I stopped but I have never dealt well in heat. I managed a lot longer than I would have expected. I was never in race mode really and I suspect that sub-consiously I was aware of working on monday and actually having to ride. Hopefully next time I will be able to have the day off and then my brain will let me go for it, or maybe it was one of those days that pushing doesn't happen. But my legs and stomach behaved so that was good.
Other imporant people were of course the boys at Cooksons, they really did everything to make sure I was ready - although I didn't need the horror stories! The velocake lot that we camped with, meant Ali had company and help when I came in demanding things! Oh and of course Grant who had a fantastic race himself and who provided the suspension forks for rigger. My hands were in pieces at the end, I can't imagine what they would have been like if I had rode rigid!
Will I do it again? Yes of course, I think I would love to do it on a nice fast geared bike as well! But that doesn't