Sunday, July 17, 2011

I arrived at Dunwich Beach shortly after 9 this morning. Therby making this a 12 hour ride. In 2006 I did it in about 9 hours, but today's time is more usual. Weather was perfect. Tailwind. Friendly but not as friendly as previous rides.
A guy. Got run down fairly early in the ride. He wasn't dead, and remained conscious but was braced and strapped in which I assume means spinal injury might be an issue.
I got through a whole pack of Neurofen Plus. My wrists and ankles hurt, hip pain early on but then cleared, bad throat, sore bum and running out energy towards the end, but I didn't flag out like previous years and kept reasonable pace throughout.
I was quite nervous as to how my asthma condition would respond to this. Early on I was breathing very self consciously and testing - especially on the way out of london which is quite a long slow climb up to Epping Forest. After epping I was kind of in the swing and enjoying it. cool air was nice, diminshing light - good. Not too much harrassment from drivers and none from pedestrians or drinkers.
I put all my learned stuff into action - keep topped up with water, keep snacking, have the high energy sweet stuff ready for any dip in energy.
Every year i wonder if this was the one where i'd get my first puncture. I came close on the last one, suffering a slow puncture in the last stretch of the ride which i didn't even notice until well into Sunday afternoon and managed to go a further couple of days before i had to repair it.
What was instantly noticeable was the massively high number of riders. I estimated that it must be at least the one and half thousand thye had last year, while others reckoned a bit less. But it meant that the lonely stretches of the ride, which i enjoy most, were fewer and farther in between, and it took much longer into the ride before i was finally on my own.
Some rode with music playing - which i didn't like. One guy was riding for charity with his two dogs on the bike - I'd never noticed people doing it for charity before. I'm starting to think it's only a matter of time before it becomes indistinguishable from the London to Brighton. some did in wacky or eccentric costumes - brightly coloured party dresses, or in tweed. There was the usual amount of odd bikes - a few less recumbants, a couple of tandems, and a "Boris" bike.
Thankfully though a lot more "normal" bikes and less semi professional racer types (as a proportion) than in previous years. I swear I was the one riding a hybrid in 2005.
The food stop was only 50 odd miles into the race and I couldn't justify stopping. Just went in to take a look and wondered about filling up with water. Probably should have.
Then it started to get light. My favourite bit. Now it was as lonely as it has ever been. Cyclists meeting at this point usually chatted a bit. I rode alongside a few different people before i finally made my first wrong turn. GPS had been doing me proud up until then, but after my batteries had run out I went wrong immediately. By using my old world map I was able to get back to the correct route within about 5 miles - into Peasnell and then it was fairly easy route, though i did see one guy go completely wrong ahead of me - he went too fast and too far for me to catch him.
Now I was beginning to suffer: sore bum, aching knees, beginnings of a headache, though nothing compared to two years ago and i could still turn on the speed when i wanted to, and make it up the little hills that felt like mountains by now.
Then i was finished. Couldn't believe the numbers on the beach - it was nearly completely covered. Grabbed breakfast - the works this time - and two hours sleep on the beach before it started to rain. Then came the storm!

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