So what do you do when your Crufts qualifier is cancelled, a 100 mile bike ride of course. The Great Nottinghamshire Bike Ride. As it promises to be a nice day, I go down at 7am to pay on the day.
This is my first long bike ride for around a year. I’ve done nothing greater than the 15 mile each way route to work and not even that very often. Too much bloody running.
This year for the first time it starts from the Victoria Embankment rather than its previous home of Holme Pierrepont. This is a definite step up and much easier to get to. Unfortunately after a too fast cycle there, I’m exhausted already. Only the 100 miles to go then.
The sportive is now 100 miles not 75, which is what I did last time. There’s also a 48 mile route, which no longer goes through Newark like I think all the others have. L is doing that but will start later, so hopefully we’ll finish together. There’s also a 19 mile route and a three mile one.
There are loads here queuing up to start and loads, like me, paying on the day. The ride seems to be going from strength to strength now that the council have relinquished it to an events management company. That rather large German electricity company who took over East Midlands Electricity sponsor it, but never mind. It’s now a three day festival called ‘Cycle Live’ with some interesting races on the Friday night that had I been free I would have been tempted down to see.
I start and skip the first two feeds stations. The first one because it’s not open yet and the second one, because I can. Eventually after 34 miles I pull into the car park of the Royal Oak at Car Colson. Regrettably they’re only serving High 5, who are on board as a sponsor.
Meanwhile, back at the Embankment L is lining up to start and the DJ is apparently playing ‘Panic’ by The Smiths. Which she thinks is rather apt.
My second stop is at 56 miles, the Caunton Beck, ooooh it’s a pub crawl. The Caunton Beck is in err Caunton. Wherever that is. My geographical knowledge of Nottinghamshire expired when we went through Southwell.
The final feed station is after 72 miles at Wellow or rather it isn’t. It’s been moved three miles further down the road to Eakring. Oh well three miles nearer the finish. All the other feed stations have asked for donations in exchange for cakes etc but here they have a price list for food, so I skip it. Although I do fork out 50p for a cup of tea mainly because the High 5 has ran out here. Not good. L meanwhile is having tea at Radcliffe with 10 miles to go and is therefore well ahead of me. My peloton isn't going to pull that particular breakaway back.
As I join the end of the shorter routes I realise just how many people there are without helmets, I’m surprised they allow that. 99% of the 100 milers have one though. I pass through Radcliffe, stopping briefly to check my phone for messages and finding one from L with her feet up at the finish, by the beer tent.
The route has been much better this year, easily the best one I’ve done. Yet still they have to take us over the pot holes at Holme Pierrepont, even when we don’t start there. Not good for folk with decent bikes.
Then I cross the... start line. Seems they’ve had the start/finish banner wrong way around all day. Bet they wonder why all these psychos on road bikes keep on sprinting after the line, just in case there is another banner somewhere with finish on it. After several panicky hand signals from a lass in a yellow jacket I slow down to a stop. I make the route actually 103 miles not 100 but never mind.
Even L ‘enjoyed’ it despite finding it psychologically tough, because she’s puncture phobic. Not that she’s ever had one, which just convinces her the first one gets closer with each pedal turn.
The Riverbank Bar is running a beer tent but with no real ale. I had expected Castle Rock to be here but they’re not, so along with many others we adjourn to the Ferry Inn instead. Not great but better.
(Sunday 15th July)