Day 8. 116 miles from Cheddar to Launceston - actually seven miles past Launceston but more of that later. As I have to rush off to catch the 17.20 tomorrow on the train back to a normal life thought I would reflect on Deloitte RAB and the week. Would I do it again? No. Would I have missed it? No - not for all the tea in China and thats a lot of tea. I have loved every minute of it, fast descents to grinding hills, flat out flats to longer than long drags. Every single pedal stroke, all 300,000 plus of them. Should you do it? Unquestionably. It’s simply the biggest sporting challenge box I could have ticked off at my advancing years.
Everyone I have met has a different motivation for doing the ride and there are many different styles of riding the individual stages. Some take their time and mix long lunches with cafe stops in one of the many outstandingly beautiful towns and villages we have passed through. On reflection it seems a great way of doing Deloitte RAB. Others, like me, a very indifferent club rider, have used each stage to push themselves to new limits, which we certainly didn’t believe was possible at the beginning of this week, when we simply wanted to get through each day, one day at a time. I am sure they exist but I just can’t think of another cycling opportunity which can give us ordinary riders such a variety of challenge.
And forgive me for the tree hugging bit but in such a long and challenging endurance event, friendships have formed which have helped each of us get through the difficult times. Twice today, once after an unscheduled call of nature and once after my chain came off, Ballymena Dave, came back to get me back to the group. Now BD is made from a secret recipe consisting of only testosterone and steel, but inside he’s got a big soft heart. Cheers BD and thanks for the tow back.
No doubt we may never cross paths again but I doubt that - sticky out bit Rory the climber, Ballymena Dave the outstanding all rounder, Big G the big engine, “I only trained once” Chris, Yankee Chris ( whose asset statement I still need to see before he meets my daughter), the Legend that is Les, “get off my back wheel Lance” Jared - you’ve become good mates and I look forward to a quick 70 mile training ride before a few beers any time. Excuse me but I just have to break off to wipe a solitary tear which has fallen on my keyboard. Wuss.
This morning started as any other, a bit chilly but otherwise ok with no wind. The route was described as undulating. Bollhockeroonies. It was positively Alpine. A climb, a descent, another climb. Deloitte RAB man, don’t mean to be rude and all, especially as I know you have my best interests at heart but you were taking the proverbial today. We will have words, constructively of course.
Back to the ride. Our nemesis was struck down by DnV and so we passed them after a few miles - real shame and I hope all you guys feel good for the final ride tomorrow. By the first pitstop we were out front and riding steadily, that is Ballymena Dave steady i.e. balls out. The group thinned out to BD, sticky out bit Rory, Jared and me. This was my worst day on the bike (interestingly on reflection I hadn’t carbed up as I normally do during the stage - big lesson). After 80 miles with another 36 to go I was ready to be shelled out the back like a Bird's Eye petit pois. Annoyingly, every time I slowed down on the hill so did they. They just wouldn’t leave me behind. I didn’t know it at the time but we were all suffering at the same time and thinking the same thoughts. We thought the finish was at Launceston, but it wasn’t. It was eight miles further on, each mile of which consisted of another climb and another descent, aarggh. Deloitte RAB was just rabbit punching us, kicking us when we were down. This was the day which couldn’t end soon enough. But did I enjoy it? Course I did. Would I have changed it? Never. Not one single agonising mile of it.
It’s after nine o clock as I finish writing this and the base camp PA system has announced that Michelle is about to come in, 14.5 hours after she started. The whole camp is moving up to the finish to clap her in. Quite right too. She is the toughest rider here. Bar none. Chapeau Michelle!
Nigel was the winner of our Deloitte Ride Across Britain competition, winning a place on the ride and a Boardman bike. Follow Nigel’s journey throughout the week.
More more information on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, please visit: www.rideacrossbritain.comhttp://www.rideacrossbritain.com/>