Day One started early as ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blared out over the PA system at 05:30, much to everyone’s delight. It was misty and damp as we headed out from Land’s End on the road to Penzance, with St Michael’s Mount hidden from view in the fog, and it didn’t take long for a few spots of rain to appear. It was pretty undulating terrain from the off, but as the sun gradually burnt through the cloud and the thermometer on my bike computer nudged into the low 20’s, the ups and downs turned into longer, steeper hills as we meandered through the B roads of Cornwall (including a visit to the wonderfully named village of Minion).
Plenty of people shot past us from the off, but we soon caught them on the uphill sections and the other Alex & I found ourselves riding alone for some considerable miles. I had expected it to be a little more organised into small groups, but that said it was quite a pleasantly uneventful ride through some lovely rolling countryside in the late summer sunshine. Eventually we formed a gruppetto with 3 others with about 20 miles to go as we completed the 108 miles in a touch over 7 hours. Consensus was total climbing of between 8,500 and 9,000 feet, but I didn’t feel like I’d pushed too hard and felt pretty strong at the finish.
Sunday promised more of the same, as we woke to ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rumble’ blast out of the camp tannoy. A cold start gradually warming up to the low 20’s, and plenty of rolling countryside across Devon and Somerset. The day started well as we latched onto a few groups before settling towards the front of a bunch of 8 or so UK club riders. The Quantocks were climbed, as well as Cheddar Gorge, before the a very hilly final 25 miles into Bath Uni. Unfortunately the energy drink we’d been given hadn’t agreed with me and, as I swelled up like a ballon, leading me to switch to water. As I sweated out electrolytes I started to cramp up in my calves and I commuted the schoolboy error of neglecting to fuel properly as the pain set in.
Consequently I started bonking with about 10 miles to go, and the other Alex had to lead me into Bath in just over 7 hours for he 111 miles and a mere 6,000ft of climbing. I crashed badly after we arrived and staggered off to the medical centre to recover my senses. A couple of pints of a well know soft drink eventually brought me back round and I got clean bill of health for tomorrow.
Another early night is in order, but there’s a quite a bit less climbing tomorrow which promises to be a bit of a relief, and I’m looking forward to going over the Severn Crossing. At 97 miles, people are already talking about adding on the extra 3, but I’ll see how I feel at 05:30!