Unfortunately, a bad cold prevented me from taking up my place on the Fred Whitton Challenge in the Lakes. I was gutted as this was to be a major part of my training for the Etape.
Looking around for a comparable training ride in the UK which would be taking place before mid July I came across the Dragon Ride in South Wales happening in early June. The ride terrain is very similar to the Etape stages, and covers a gruelling 144 miles in the Brecon Beacons. In between times, I put in as much local mileage as possible.
Dragon Ride Website: http://humanrace.co.uk/event/dragon-ride/
The ride starts from Margam Park which whilst absolutely beautiful, with hillsides covered in all shades of purple rhodedendrons, is slap bang next door to Port Talbot steel works! Very sad to see so much poverty and dread to think of the impact the closure will make to the people living in the area.
Anyhow, 7.15am saw us set off on the ride, and after 10hours in the saddle with an average speed of 13. Mph, I was happy to say I’d done it! It was an incredibly sunny and hot day and staying hydrated was quite a problem, but the scenery was breathtaking. The event is extremely well organised, by the Tour De France affiliation, from parking and signeage, to food stops and support, to commentary and medals at the end. My only criticism was that the so called ‘bike mechanics’ were pretty hopeless, but otherwise a fantastic event. We met some lovely people and made many new friends from all parts of the country.
With ‘Chasing the Sun’ this weekend (overnight from Hunstanton in Norfolk to Southwold in Suffolk, and a ride with a friend on our Bromptons (yes folks, ‘folders’!) from Kibworth to Wells for an annual visit with other biking friends for the summer Solstice, (more on that adventure in my next news item), June is already a very busy cycling month.
The Dragon Ride was such a good ride, and probably better that the Fred Whitton in terms of the type of terrain (long slow climbs) we covered. Insert profile. Having now gained in confidence for the real thing in July, knowing that I can keep up the required pace over similar terrain – to avoid the dreaded ‘broom wagon’ – and armed with my Doctor’s ‘sign off’ note (compulsive requirement!), I’m pretty ready for the Etape.