Chasing down an Olympic champion

Stage two of Sarah Storey's ride sees her saving the wildlife

Day Two of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain was very soggy and thankfully not too long!

We started from the same spot we finished last night and headed south towards Loch Ness, with  two short climbs over the Glens and a rolling finish along some terrible road surface. The quieter tracks of the far north were behind us, and the busy road along Loch Ness was a shock to the system as the cars and bikes whizzed past. Although it doesn’t feel like June up here (after 70 miles I had to change my gloves as they were soaking, and we’re still trying to dry my shoes!), the tourist season is in full swing, and cars from many a European member state whizzed past.

My riding partner for the day was Ironman Alan Ingarfield once again, and we were also riding with James Cracknell on the first and last leg of the day.

Each day’s stage is split into three sections by two pit stops. It’s partly an opportunity to refuel, but also a chance for everyone to be accounted for along the route. Alan and I rode with James from our 8am starting time until the first pit stop, where, not realising he was up for a ride all day, we left him refuelling. By the time he caught us up at the second stop, he turned on a sixpence and headed off with barely a word – apart from to let us know he wasn’t happy we’d left him back up the road!

This was all the motivation we needed to chase him down – and he is a hard man to catch!  While we gained a bit on the uphills, he was considerably quicker on the downs! After about five miles, a longer rise gave us the last push we needed and we hooked up for our final stint into the base camp.

The roads cut through some amazing scenery, and the rolling terrain made the ride pretty energy sapping. But upon the arrival of some longer flat sections we were able to really motor along with some swift riding. It’s not a race this ride, but starting an hour late, as we did,  made it feel like we were chasing down the rest of the 600 strong field!

Having the opportunity to ride along and pass many of the other riders was very inspirational, as we saw just how many people were fundraising for ParalympicsGB. Deloitte have pledged to raise £1 million pounds by 2013, and this annual Deloitte Ride Across Britain is one of the main fundraising opportunities. Some groups are riding as a team, with one member always in charge of the team vehicle, while many, many riders – some more experienced than others – are riding the entire route themselves. With the weather being less than ideal it’s a tough route, so hats off to everyone who’s taking part.

As the final miles approached, we turned from the victims of a sadistic leg battering into an animal rescue mission in the space of just a few seconds! As James and I were on the front setting the pace, we heard the cry of a lamb and looked across to see it stuck in a wire fence, desperately fighting to get out.

“He’s stuck!” said James.

“We have to save it!” said me.

So we abruptly did a U-turn (much to the confusion of our support car) and headed back to free the lamb!

It wasn’t long before we were back up to speed and heading towards another stage finish, this time in the mountain bike town of Fort William. Our speed was higher today, and our 100 miles were covered in five hours 10 minutes – and that's including the time it took to free the lamb!

An earlier finish means longer rest, so now our attentions turn to the 128 miles we will face in tomorrow’s stage. Let’s hope we see some sun soon!

For more of Sarah Storey, visit www.onthedrops.com.

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