Entry 87 – Newcastle to London bike ride

Ride UK 24 host a whole range of challenge events whereby you are given 24 hours to complete the event.

My friend Helen had signed up for the Newcastle to London bike event.  Did you see the title of this post and think it was me?! Are you mad it’s 308 miles! In one go! Having to complete it within 24 hours!

I did, however, offer to ride a stage or two with her as support as she had signed up for this on her own.  She’s a bit mental you see.

My brother in law lives in Leeds and so we travelled up on the Friday and decided we would head to the second stage starting in Darlington and I would jump in there.

Technically not breaking any rules as its open roads, I’m using all my own food and drink and my husband is in the support car with everything we could need.  Literally everything – bike pump, inner tubes, tyres, spare everything and the list goes on.

All events I have done have a rest stop, or multiple, but they are completely optional.  As this is a 24 hour challenge it is mandatory to stop at every rest stop and the lead pace group always leaves first.  As you enter your number is scanned so they keep a track of everyone on the ride and no one is left behind.  Kit bags move from rest stop to rest stop.  Food and drink was in abundance.  The team who staffed were amazing.  These events are not cheap to enter and you can see exactly where every penny goes.  Kudos to this company both my husband and I were so impressed.

Darlington to York was less than 1,000 feet of climbing over 47 miles so pretty flat.  Helen had met a girl called Heather on the event Facebook page and rode some of the first stage with her so she joined us for the second stage.  It was quick.  We averaged approx 19 mph apparently.  I’ve never average 19 mph! I was pretty pleased though knew it was unlikely I would be able to maintain that pace for a second stage and didn’t want to hold up Helen on her event – I was supposed to be there as support!

We hit the third stage and again was pretty flat.  The group we headed out with got split pretty quickly coming out of York (which is beautiful by the way and I will definitely be going back for a visit!).  There were traffic lights, of which we hit reds at most, traffic congested as you would expect in a busy town and roundabouts.  Soon Helen and I were on our own.  It was fine and we took it in turns on the front.

The weather forecast for this ride was pretty horrendous with a promise of rain, a thunderstorm and the Daily Mail even reported a tornado?! The rain did start and we pulled over to put on waterproofs though it was so hot we felt like boil in the bag something or other, so after ten minutes when the rain had stopped we did and took them off again! Then we had a thunderstorm though again for only ten minutes. And then came the wind! The wind this year seems relentless and it’s rare to have a ride where you are not battling against it.  We caught up with two other guys and between us we took it in turns on the front gaining another member of our team and then another again.

We had completed just under 95 miles in less than five and a half hours so an average of 17.5mph.  I was so happy with that!

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Time to switch and so I came off the bike and the husband got on his to be support for Helen.

I’ve mentioned before about my husband and his kebab leg.  Well after completing his Olympic distance triathlon and smashing his three hour time he wanted and completing the Prudential Ride London 100 mile cycle ride he was hoping to do a long stint if not complete the ride with Helen.

T’was not to be! After the first stage for him of just under 50 miles he could not feel his left leg and his sock and show had dug in so badly from the swelling he couldn’t feel his left leg it was numb.  I had made him promise that if his leg was bad he wouldn’t continue and so that was it for him!

Helen had her own entourage at the event and so her friend Abbie, who she had cycled to Paris with in 24 hours, hopped on a spare bike and took a turn.  I have never cycled at night and the thought petrified me plus I’d cooled down from my two stages so probably wouldn’t have been much help! After Abbie then another friend, Alain, jumped on for the final two stages.

The two support cars, one was us, drove from rest stop to rest stop to see them.  At the penultimate rest stop I will admit I was slightly worried about Helen and Heather.  It was now 3am and both just wanted to be done.  It was pitch black outside.  Helen referred to Heathers helmet as her hat ha ha and both forced down food to keep them fuelled for the final two stages.  The feeling at this rest stop was sombre to say the least.  Lots of people in various mental states of their own, not much laughing and joking, lots of stretching and more staring into space.  The 24 hour pace maker came in and the mood changed.  Everyone was there with the sole purpose of completing this ride within 24 hours.  This poor guy sat on his own and Heather referred to him as the grim reaper ha ha (nothing personal of course).

The final rest stop everyone coming in was done and just wanted it to be over though it was light again and made such a difference.  This was a quick pit stop and back on the road.  They had just over four hours to complete the final 41 miles.  They headed off and we got back in the cars, drove home spare bikes and kit and made our way to the finish.  Waiting for people on events is nerve wracking, every time someone comes in you cheer (it can be quite emotional) and keep checking the tracking app to see where your friends are.  The last stage was hilly and came in through Chigwell and then into Smithfields market in London.

They finished at 23 hours and 20 minutes so well under the 24 hours and it was smiles all round.  What an achievement! They could get off their bikes (or remove their bikes from their person as it would feel after that long in the saddle), not have to worry about applying any more chamois cream (would be like an old leather handbag by now anyhow), save the Garmin rides to store the ride data and take their well earned medal and glass of bubbly.

Although I was tired from my stint and more from being up all night I had an absolute blast and would happily be support for a ride like that for someone (may even think about taking part – depending on how hilly the course is) it was so much fun and a huge team effort.

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Job well done – well done Helen!!

And i lost 1 lb too this week ha ha!

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