Initially the forecast for Sunday was terrible but by Saturday there was a glimmer of hope that our ride would remain dry until the early afternoon. As we waited on the start line however it was already drizzling. The plan was still to do the 127 mile route together.
We were released at 8 o'clock on the dot and after a few miles settled into a reasonable pace in quite a large group of riders. I knew George was behind me in the group and I tried to keep track of where he was but it was difficult with so many riders in close formation. The rain was getting heavier and the wind stronger all the time, and soon I had that horrible feeling of my shoes and shorts full of water,not nice at all. The number of riders getting punctures was ridiculous, it just seemed a matter of when rather than if!
Eventually the field started to thin out but by this time I had lost George. I did think about waiting at this point but it was quite likely that he had punctured so I carried on. I worked with a couple of equally paced riders for a while until a faster group came past and we hooked onto the back of them. We were now going at a fair old lick and it was good riding, but as we came to the first feed station I was struggling to keep up on the hills. I was thankful that they all pulled in.
Unfortunately the group was separated as people spent differing times in the feed station. I jumped back on the bike and chased after one rider I had been with most of the way but he was already 200yds up the road and try as I might to catch him I never did and after several miles gave up the chase.
Then disaster struck. I was riding through one of the villages on route and approached a 90deg right hand bend with a junction on the left. As I did so a car approached from the junction and I didn't think he was going to stop. I was busy looking at him rather than the road surface. The next thing I knew I was down and sliding along the road, my slide finally halted as I ran into the kerb. I got up and hobbled about for a few minutes with a bloody knee, elbow and hip. The most pain was coming from my hip. Another rider had stopped to pick my bike up and see that I was o.k. He said,"oh I see you did what I did and swapped to the 81 mile route". It was a double blow, not only had I fallen off but I had missed the turning for the 127 mile route as well!
After straightening out my brake levers which were both pushed badly out of line I got back on and gently rode on. Slowly I eased myself back into a rhythm but it soon became apparent I had damaged my deurelier, I was missing my lower gears and could see that it was twisted out of line with the chain. Each hill from thereon had to be taken standing in a higher gear. From that point on I just wanted to finish as soon as possible. My distance meter had become waterlogged and stopped working so I had no idea of how far I had to go so it was just a question of head down and get to the finish line. As soon as I had finished I was shivering violently. The only positive I can take was a decent time of 4hrs 50mins for the 81 mile route. I can understand now why a lot of riders wont ride in the rain!
All good experience for our end to end!