Woke up Saturday, after a fitful sleep, very nervous but Mark was also feeling the same so we understood each others nerves! Managed to get some porridge down, heard this was a good option to have!
We got to the parking area in good time – 7.45am, pockets loaded and spare inner tube etc in bike bag wow was I going to need it! We met up with the rest of the cottages4you team and Mark’s colleagues from Hope down at the start line about 1 mile from the parking area, noticing that we’d have a very steep hill to go back up once the ride was over.
Everyone was buzzing, the ‘long ride’ riders started setting off from 8am, people were queuing up to receive their timing chips and some were even still registering. It was sunny and clear – we all stood together and set off from approx 8.35am, fully stocked up with fluids including free Gatorade!.
The adrenalin was working, I’d done the first part of the ride out of Barley on Monday – I wanted to get up the hill no slower than 5mph but found it so easy I was going at least 8mph. I caught up with Peter R and luckily stayed with him because at 3.5 miles I had my first puncture – going 35mph down the hill towards Downham – our MD, Geoff thought someone had shot at us! I thought it was over but Peter stopped and so did Aaron, Pete and Matty – Peter R started to take my back wheel off as I was clueless but I did ask ‘why do you have to take that off when it’s the front’? LOL – the guys were great – I only had 1 spare inner tube and the ‘repair car’ gave me another – (Caroline got the bill, thanks!). I can’t thanks these 4 enough for saving me and getting me back on track!
Next miss-hap was poor Wendy, within minutes of my stop – James had a problem with his gears and as he stopped Wendy didn’t and went flying over her handle bars – were we doomed – she picked herself up though and we continued on to Waddington Fell – passing Nic pushing his bike out of Downham…he really meant it when he said he hadn’t trained for this!
Straight up to the top of Waddy Fell, photo shoot at the top and wow it was fast going down the other side – a bit scary with the gravely edges of the roads – I was a little bit apprehensive with the speeds – touching 40mph when you don’t know the road is daunting – but my friend Doc Kenny told me later he went down at 58mph! Where was everyone else though?
Peter, Pete and I caught up with Geoff and we saw a sign for the feed station 1km, but it was more like 5km till we got to Chipping – a chance to all catch up and refresh – and another photoshoot – sorry Matt again for dropping your camera. Geoff fixed his shoes and we were off again! It was boiling and we had some tough hills to get up, we motivated each other to keep going, some hills made us curse, but I wasn’t getting off – up Longridge Fell, down the other side – I was pushing 40mph again – feeling great, another drink stop in Clitheroe to recharge.
The Nick of Pendle was OK, I had a gel drink at the bottom and got my head down, I saw the others behind me and thought I would get down the other side and wait at the bottom, I was going at 38mph when I had another puncture – I didn’t want to slow them down again so I went over to the side of the road and got the wheel off as I’d seen them do before – I did try and ring Mark as I thought he’d be wondering where I was – it was about 1pm. No reply so I thought ‘sod it’ and I managed to get the inner tube out, tried to feel inside for anything and got the new one in and was fighting with it when a lovely lady rider stopped to offer her help. She was the only one out of about a dozen riders who did. By this point I was black from the rubber and so cross I managed to get it almost back on when Matty and Aaron, my knights in shinning armour appeared to save the day! Peter had gone past and thought I was ahead of him still so Mark was starting to think something was wrong when he got back before me.
Back on the bike I was just going through Sabden when my phone rang – Linda asking what time I’d finished – argh!
So we all decided to stick together going up Black Hill to make sure we all got back- oh what a hill! My ‘cateye’ had stopped working – in my temper to change my tyre I’d knocked it, it was absolutely boiling now – and the hills were still appearing in front of us, we couldn’t wait to get back. My friend Faulky rode on to meet us – nearly back, up the last little hill after Jinny Lane and on the flat back to Barley – I felt like we could carry on.
Matty, Aaron and I rode over the finishing line at 5:26hrs, Pet, Geoff and Wendy just behind us – I hugged everyone in sight! Geoff treated us all to a beer at the pub to celebrate whilst we waitied for the others to get back. It was a very emotional day, we all enjoyed it and the company was amazing- a great bunch of people to do it with and I will definitely be doing it next year!!
Honestly – you get over the saddle sores and it’s a fantastic feeling of achievement, so get on your bike and join us!
Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement, sponsors, Andrea for the day off work and Claire for working solo – plus Caroline for organising it and not laughing when I said I wanted to do it!
Jackie rode in the National Cyclo-Sportive at the recent Pendle Cycle Festival. Find more info on the event website.