I aim to be there for a 7am start but in the end mainly due to having to queue up its 7.15am by the time I roll out. The right clothing for the day has been difficult to judge, so I decide to go expecting rain, as that's what it's doing. Although wearing shorts I go in overshoes and a waterproof jacket. The advice in the race pack was to ‘wear high factor sun protection’ but that particular bit of advice is looking a bit unnecessary.
It isn’t until I roll forward up to the start line that I realise that one particularly important item is missing. I have come out without my helmet. Oops. Never done that before.
The waterproof jacket soon proves too warm and I take it off, preferring to get wet from the persistent drizzle rather than from my own perspiration.
L starts the 50 mile at 8.45 meaning I’m going to be very hard pushed to catch her, unless she has a puncture... but I daren’t even entertain that thought. I’d never hear the last of it. Talking of which, there are a worryingly huge and I mean huge number of people repairing punctures at the side of the road. Hope L hasn’t noticed...
I stop for the first time at Car Colston with 39 miles done. It’s good to see this year that there have sports drinks laid on for the first time, which is very welcome. Around the course there has also been mile markers which is a nice touch. Although Mile 2 appeared after 18 minutes cycling, which was clearly incorrect as I could have ran there faster than that. My computer had 3.5 miles on the clock at that point and in fact the markers stay ‘reliably’ 1.5 miles out throughout.
I notice that there aren’t that many like me doing the event ‘eau natural’. There are a few hardcore old guys in little white caps circa 1970’s Milk Race but not many others without a helmet.
I stop for the second time after 61 miles at Caunton with the drizzle by now getting very annoying but not as annoying as the wind.
After 73 miles done it's the feed at Wellow, where everything is free to the 100 milers. Which begs the question why can’t everything at Caunton also be free as it too is only on the 100 mile route?
Also at Wellow, I get chatting to a guy who is using this event as a training ride for the Outlaw Ironman in two weeks. I’m impressed and we bond. I tell him I watched the Half Outlaw a few weeks ago and intend to be in it next year. He tries to look impressed but isn’t as he swigs from his Half Outlaw 2013 water bottle. Ah, I see you were in it. I kiss the hallowed ground under him one more time and head for my bike, telling him I’ll catch him later. Although obviously it’s he who catches me, waves briefly and then drops me.
I now have a mere 27 miles to do; L is apparently inside the last 10. So there really is no chance of overhauling her now. Particularly as the last 20 or so miles seems so windy and hilly or perhaps my legs are just shot it.
I have to say that this has been without doubt the best route they’ve put together yet but even then they still have to ruin it by taking us through Holme Pierrepont across the pot holes and the mud. The best bike is now a right muddy mess and will need a good clean later. We also get held up here by a wedding at Blotts Country Club, where everyone has parked down both sides of the road leaving only room for one car to drive down what’s left, with cars wanting to travel in both directions this creates a standoff and gridlock with nowhere for us cyclists to go.
Eventually I make the finish line in 6 hours 36, which isn’t too bad. One more request please organisers, official timing for next year please.
I am greeted by L, who not surprisingly immediately gives me grief about the lack of a helmet.
We cycle back home to the dogs using cycle paths this time (because I have delicate female company) rather than blasting down the ring road (my preferred route). After a bit of R&R we head to Stapleford for the evening. We eat in the Wetherspoons, where we have the usual problem of drinking more than we intended because they throw in a free one with the meal. Which is an odd tactic as we would have eaten anyway and we may even have bought more drinks... but that’s Wetherspoons for you, you take it as it is and not that many places serve food on a Sunday evening.
Anyhow that gives us the opportunity to move on to the Horse and Jockey and to see what decent beers they have on there.
(Sunday 23rd June)