This morning, a sort of early morning drive over to Grimsthorpe Castle, which is near Bourne and if that doesn’t help, Bourne is near Grantham. If you don’t know where Grantham is, consult a map.
It’s also a family outing, in that L and the boys come for the trip out too. Even my Mum and Dad are rumoured to be on their way. All without bikes though, I have my bike because it’s another Sportive, the first St Barnabas Grimsthorpe Challenge.
As I check in, the organiser explains there have been a few minor changes to the routes, meaning that mine is now up to 60 miles. I had thought I'd signed up to something of approximately 50-55 miles. I’ve not opted for the 100 mile route this time preferring to see how quickly I can do something of around the Half Ironman distance of 56 miles.
Someone straps a SportIdent orienteering style dibber to my wrist; it's been a long time since I used one of those. Then it’s off to the start area right outside the castle and I roll out across the line at 8.45. L waves goodbye and heads off to take the boys for a good two and a half hour yomp and a paddle.
Today’s event is insured by British Cycling who stipulate the helmets are compulsory, so it's a good job I've remembered mine this time.
Even the weather is playing ball, unlike last weekend the sun is out and there’s no sign of rain. The wind and the hills are ever present though.
Some participants seem to go wrong early on, I don't know how. It’s all very well signed but I think they all just followed each other like sheep.
There are two stops on the route at Pickwell after 31 miles and Geetham after 44 miles. I have one of L’s legendary buns with me to supplement the refreshments they offer us. My Dad was allegedly loitering in another village, Cottesmore, which we went through twice, but I didn’t see him and L later tracks him down at the finish.
It’s a nice route, the only downside being a long stretch of freshly stone chipped road which they probably couldn't avoid. 56 miles (Half Ironman distance) arrives in exactly 3:30 excluding stops. The finish line arrives in 4.09 including stops because by then, somehow, I’ve managed to wipe my bike computer.
There's quite a welcome party as I arrive. My parents, my father's camera, the boys and of course my podium girl who delivers the traditional sweaty kiss.
I have little time to savour the atmosphere though as I have promised to try my legs out with a run. So it’s a quick T1 (transition) and off for a short 2 mile run before arriving back for tea, sandwiches and juice.
I actually think L is feeling a bit outdone or jealous even. I shall book her into a cycle event, as a special treat.
At night we head off into town and BrewDog for some stormingly dark and strong beers, a meal in Broadway, then finally a night cap on the way home at the H&H.
(Sunday 30th June)