On the first day, I thought I was on a cycling tour. The countryside and weather reminded me of my excellent Land's End to John O'Groats trip in September 2005. I really would like to do another tour like that.
I was in a relaxed mood. I had encouraged myself to take it easy on the first day. Every 'Araf' sign was a reminder to slow down, gear down, take it easy. This time last year, at Weobley (80km to go), I had approached John Spooner, saying 'I don't think I'm going to make it'. To which he replied, with that lowering of arms and palms up signal: 'Just enjoy it'. Probably the best reply he could have given, and something that has stayed with me. I was absolutely going to enjoy this BCM.
All along, while taking it easy, I was ahead on last year's times. Of course, the weather played a big part in that. But other contributors were having lost weight and having done an 8 week interval training program. World class triathlete Jenny Rose put me onto this. Its amazing how eight, 1 hour sessions can make such a difference. I finished within the 40hour time limit and felt good all way around. Hoorraahh!!
It wasn't all plain sailing though and I should correct my opening line to: "A holiday by day and a randonee by night".
Here is a quote from Flatus: "had a nice night ride in parts to reach Kings at 11.45pm". Excuse me, but arriving back at Kings before midnight is not a night ride, right?!
Here is Flatus again: "Heard the rain pissing down and felt very sorry for the poor buggers still out in it." Well, thank you, that would have been me.
As I was cycling through Beddgelert in the night, in the rain, I was recalling the fireworks we saw last year. I was really tired by then, and only had worded thoughts in my head: fireworks at Beddgelert, fireworks, Beddgelert,... I wondered how you pronounce Beddgelert in Welsh. Beddgelert, Bedd gelert, Bedd ge lert, Bedd ... BED!
A quote by Nonsteeler: "I felt really sorry for all those who didn't get a bed". There are beds in the youth hostel? Its OK though, really. Don't feel guilty. I ride my ride and I know what resources will be available to me. I don't compare, I don't think they got a bed and I didn't, or I need a bed more than they do. The first couple of paragraphs of Fidgetbuzz's YACF entry did make me laugh.
I had my powernaps as planned on the second day (no more than 5 mins at the time even though I set 10 minute alarms). The sound of a nice bike whizzing past you while having a bit of shuteye on a bench, I find absolutely wonderful. At one of the later controls, blacksheep advised me to get cracking, no one can afford any time off the bike now! Right you are sir. I was feeling tip top, still, so no problem cracking on. What a difference from last year! I feel I have finally mastered long distance cycling.
There is a lot of climbing on the BCM. I had made a note of blacksheep's remark of 'Leaving Newtown for Weobley you will find the longest single climb of the ride'. Indeed I found this the most draining climb of all.
All the climbing comes with lovely views and descents. I had quite a few old CDs (ref LEL) - love it. At one stage, we were going so fast, I thought my tyres were going to catch fire. Richforrest is now famous for having reached top speed of 92kph!
The views on this ride are fantastic. I had a wonderful moment, looking across Barmouth Sands with Snowdonia in view. Another rider had stopped to take pictures. We were both looking for unnecessary confirmation that the view was extraordinary. You can only answer by repeating 'isn't this simply stunning?'!
When I got home, I was disappointed that my other half didn't show any interest in what I'd been up to. 'Nice to have you back', is all she said. 'What, is that all, are you not going to ask any questions?' Then came her wakening reply: 'Why on earth would I ask questions about the self-inflicted torture you put on yourself!'. 'But it was like a holiday', I said. And that set her off: 'did you get rain' - yes, 'did you get very tired' - yes, 'did you get little sleep' - yes, 'did you kip on a bench' - yes, 'did you get punctures' - NO! 'No, that's because I pumped up your tyres at 97psi, no more no less'.
I was able to relive the first day, because on the Monday, I drove back to Menai and Beaumaris to re-acquaint with a family friend. 'Simply stunning' came back into my mind. The family friend is somebody with an interesting story: Karel Lek. Then on the Tuesday I drove back the 'fast' way to London. What a long journey, I needed all my long distance tricks to get through that one. I stopped at every other service station for food and a kip. I was exhausted. And I had a craving for music. Weird. I really wanted Beethoven's 7th symphony. I was going to sing with it, I was going to air conduct, I was going to cry and let my Tuesday Blues loose. It didn't happen. The radio got close by playing the 6th, however Schubert's string quintet did a good job instead.
Many thanks to organisers 'the blacksheep family' and the riders. The smallest comments, banter, signals, gestures, ... can make an incredible difference to the experience. It was fantastic.
Have a look at the photos on the slideshow, or here until the next ride.
Some better materials:
So, I finally feel I have mastered long distance cycling. This probably signals the end of my cycling blogging also. There are just a few more events I want to capture:
- Brussels - Paris - Brussels 600km, next month June
- FNRttC - Newhaven - Dieppe, extended to Rumbeke, in July
- And of course the grand finale PBP 2011
A few more thoughts
- Seeing the Faccombe 3/4 more en route than ever before, still in a hare and tortoise way though
- Meeting simonp
- Not linking up with Mal Volio and Deano
- Me telling the Faccombe 3/4 that I found this BCM more of an achievement than LEL.
- Me getting angry at a borrowed camera. I would press the on button through my gloves. Nothing happens. Press it again, it opens and closes again. Good Hamlet sigar advert moments (Hamlet).