Sunday, 2 August 2009

L-E-L Day One

Lee Valley to Washingborough (Lincoln)
216km, 1489 metres of climbing

Not surprisingly, I didn't need waking by the alarm on Sunday morning, the adrenaline doing a pretty good job on its own.

Breakfast was at least a civilised affair, with all of the obligatory faffing having been done the night before, and all the equipment etc already loaded into the car. GPS behaved itself and faultlessly delivered me to Lee Valley YHA by just after 10 a.m. I was still concerned at this point by the total weight of bike and kit I would be carrying but by now it was far too late to jettison anything else.
The necessary "before" photograph having been taken, my wife departed back for home, leaving me to kill the three hours up to my start time.

I managed to do this by checking out the weird and wonderful bikes on display, both those seemingly homebuilt

and those lacking a certain something (eg a seatpost)

This was the only time I would see any of these, they left before me and I never caught them up.

2 p.m. came around very quickly, though it was apparent at the start that these were the 'rump' of the riders, the higher density groups having already left. This was confirmed just 5 km from the start, on the climb to Brickendon Woods where I found myself already riding alone with the back of the group occasionally visible where the road was straight for long enough. This first section was fairly rolling, if not hilly, and I did find the hills difficult to judge. Sure I could have blitzed up them out of the saddle, but what would that mean for the rest of the ride?

Riders from the following start groups came (and largely went) before the first stop at Gamlingay (not obligatory, but they had CAKE). I arrived there almost an hour ahead of plan worrying that I might have gone out too fast.

This worry didn't stop me going off head down for Thurlby a further 86km North at a high rate of knots. Again riders passed and disappeared, and I was mostly on my own. The following wind dropped as evening approached, and drizzly rain started about an hour short of the destination, getting gradually heavier as the control approached.

King Street, south of Thurlby is a dead straight section of road for about 10 miles. On this section I collected a group consisting mainly of french riders, or rather they collected me and then sat on my back wheel all the way to the control. No matter what speed I did, they just sat there. Thurlby was reached at 20:20 now almost 2 hours early, but by now I was feeling ominously tired.

Thurlby Control, like most, was excellent but most memorable for serving Strawberries & Cream to all riders in exceedingly never-seen-at-Wimbledon large portions. Suitably fortified, I joined many other riders in donning foul weather gear for the section north to Washingborough, and set off into the gathering gloom in a disjointed group of about 20.

This group fragmented over the drags to Sleaford, and by the time I reached the town I was on my own again. Sleaford was not the easiest place to navigate and once I had negotiated the town onto the long straight roads of Lincolnshire, there was no other rider to be seen all the way to Washingborough. And it was tipping it down.

Miserably, I ground my way into Washingborough at 00:01 thoroughly bedraggled and dog tired. I had already decided that any time ahead of plan would be used in additional sleep, and with the rain forecast to continue well into the next morning, decided to take even more time, being woken at 5 a.m. Decisions made, and well fed, I retreated to the floor of the sports pavilion to get some rest.

Day One over
216km in the day and 1489 metres of hills
(134 miles and 4885 feet of climbing)

Tomorrow was scheduled to be my longest day


Paul/Sarah said...

Hi Clive, bet it was cold too on that first night. I was not far behind you at this point. You forgot to mention the beans on toast. Great site. I will be following your story day by day as you add them. Rider 121.

Datameister said...


Sorry I missed you at the finish. Did you get in OK?