Issue 42 - Sarah RAB Diary (Part 2)
by Sarah Storey (Horizon Fitness)
Deloitte Ride Across Britain: Day 5
Day 5 of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain took us along some more familiar roads as we wound our way for 186km towards Manchester. Starting at the back of the field I spent the day with Jody Cundy and Barney Storey. The ride started with an ascent up the killer Kirkstone Pass and then dropped away to the east of Windemere and then onto the "Levens" TT course.
The views were breathtaking throughout the ride and if it wasn't the hills of the Lake District framed by a backdrop of clear skies, it was a view across Bolton and Manchester to the Pennines far in the distance.
It was the perfect day for riding and I started out with Jody, as Barney was doing from the 1st pitstop to the end, whereas Jody was doing from the start to the 2nd pitstop. The two of them have been doing roughly two thirds of the route everyday, and that has been upwards of 75 miles a day, very impressive for two kilo specialists.
The climb up Kirkstone Pass took just over 15 minutes, so although it wasn't long, like the climbs in the Alps, it was very steep. 13% at the least and 20% at the most. Thankfully the descent down the other side was more gradual and we started to pick off various riders. Starting last meant we were once again able to say hello to everyone as we went by and unlike yesterday morning, when everyone's heads had been down as they concentrated on surviving the second consecutive 130 mile day, people were in better spirits after conquering the big climb at the start.
It has been truly amazing and hugely motivating to ride alongside the other cyclists. Every one of them has the bit between their teeth and even if it's taking up to 14 hours to finish stages, no one is willing to give up. As I've gone along the lines of riders, a few have jumped on for a tow, thanking me afterwards and telling me how awesome it is to ride that fast. It's hard to put into words what it is like to be riding such a tough event with people who don't ride their bikes for a living, but are doing it because they want to raise money to help with our quest for gold at the Paralympics. They are the hero's of this event and hats off to everyone who is keeping those pedals turning and getting through each gruelling stage. This is the hardest thing I have done and so I cannot imagine how they are all feeling.
Today's stage was bathed in wall to wall sunshine and also marked the 500th mile – halfway! As we turned to head south passing down the east side of the M6 and then crossing it to head through Garstang we gathered a few people who were up for a tow and we soon arrived at the second pit stop, where Jody was climbing off. Barney and I didn't hang around, the more familiar roads heading through Belmont and skirting the course for the 2002 Commonwealth Games Road Race were beckoning, but first we had to get through some cheeky climbs in the lanes to the west of the Trough of Bowland.
As we traversed the edge of Bolton we headed west towards Westhoughton and crossed the M61 to meet the roundabout where I'd been knocked off by a car back in January 2006. By now the roads were many of our old training roads and as the kilometres ticked by we knew what was coming ahead and that definitely made the final 40km far easier than on previous days.
We crossed the very familiar territory of the East Lancs road and then headed through Culcheth and Glazebury. By this time we had the lead motorbike to escort us to the finish and before we knew it we were heading over the Warburton Road bridge and the 5 miles to go sign. It was a welcome sight and all that was left was a few of the lanes near to Dunham Massey Park that we have again used so often for training.
Setting off at the back meant we weren't the first ones home today and try as I might, no matter of lifting the pace was ever going to drop Barney from my back wheel! We finished with another 30kph average speed and in 6 hours and 9 minutes, although with the longer, faster descents the power was down a bit at 180 watts average. It might have been a touch shorter than the previous two days but there was no respite for the legs!!
Tonight there's a chance to catch up with some of the local Deloitte employees who have continued to be hard at work fundraising. There will be a cheque handed over to BPA for the total raised so far and now that we are well over halfway.
Deloitte Ride Across Britain: Final Blog
Sunday 20th June 2010 will forever be remembered for the day we arrived in Land's End to a huge crowd, clear blue skies and in excess of £315,000 raised for Paralympics GB.
Sarah (left) with Barney and Jody in tow. Photo: John Bailey.
With 1017.5 miles behind us during the 9 day event, the relief of seeing the finish line was almost too much for some riders and there were so many happy yet exhausted faces munching on Cornish pasties and cream teas! For one gentleman the day will also be remembered as the day he proposed to his wife, riding across the line with "Jo, will you marry me?" scrawled on a white t-shirt.
For the most part the ride had been an exhilarating expedition taking in what felt like every hill in England and Scotland! With best parts being the views from every change of direction we took, it was hard to choose a favourite place on the ride.
Towing a small group of riders to the bottom of Glen Coe and then the awesome views as we ascended during the first day of blue skies was a pretty special moment, but then the views as we entered the Lake District and the wild ponies on the top of the moors really we spectacular. High up on the moors between Bolton and Blackburn also gave a stunning view across to the Pennines, with the city of Manchester and Salford sprawled out infront and then as we rode through the final two days, the views out to sea from the Cornish coast were just amazing.
Our final view of St Michael's Mount was a wonderful surprise amongst the cheeky climbs of south Cornwall and it also marked around 15 miles to the finish. With the weather on our side for the final 7 days of the ride, there really was no better place to be cycling.
Barney and Sarah arrive at their destination. Photo: John Bailey.
Of course, with any gruelling event there will be plenty of low points and for me Day 3 and Day 6 were two of the worst. After the exhilarating climb over Glen Coe, the road down the side of Loch Lomond frightened the life out of me and things didn't get much better as I grovelled my way through the lanes off the Erksine bridge.
It was here where the road surface was in pieces and doing nothing for saddle sore! Day 6 started so well and ended so badly and with no warning about the gears needed to climb Long Mynd I was one of many miserable riders trudging uphill and pushing the bike!
Although I keep saying it, there really was no more inspirational people than those we rode past everyday we started out last. No one had ever ridden so many big mile rides back to back and for those taking 12 hours or more to finish as stage there was very little time before they were back out and in the saddle again.
Hats off to everyone who took part and a huge thank you to all the fundraisers, the money raised goes beyond everyone's expectations and is a testament to the dedication of the riders and their support crews.
Apart from the riders, there were many other people on the road giving everything to keep the riders safe. Our motorbike marshalls had their work cut out with the spread of ability, but they handled the event brilliantly and kept everyone safe. Then there were the chaperones, the guys on push bikes, out everyday to the bitter end keeping the riders moving even when they thought their legs weren't working - these guys were also the unsung heroes.
It didn't matter where we were, there were always family and friends lining the route in support and so many local people waving and cheering from their gardens. From tasty food each night, to the security keeping us safe on camp and the Halfords team keeping the bikes all working, it was a fantastic atmosphere. ParalympicsGB and Deloitte were always there to welcome us and with so many riders to chat to on the way, the atmosphere was fantastic.
I can't thank my own support crew enough either, because without their famous jam butties and the constant supply of coke and vimto, bananas and chocolate, the daily massage and all the washing done in the blink of an eye, our journey could never have run so smoothly.
Following for hours in the car, helping out anyone else who needed a gel, some water, a blast of air from the track pump or just a word of encouragement, they were out on the road everyday and keeping us fuelled and safe.
It's great to be home and reflecting on all those miles in my legs and of course there's not long to wait before I test them out this weekend along with my Horizon Fitness team mates at the Nationals!