240 Miles for Brookie Part 2 (click here for part 1)
You know when you look at things on a map, the route is only about 6 inches long. I looked at the TdySportive and though … humm, it won’t be that bad, it just goes around in a circle, that’s ok. If I ever hear this fool say that again!!
It’s all in the training
Or not as is the case with me. I made so may excuses to myself and others for not going out on training rides.
…. don’t feel so cracking this morning….
…. I’m going to get this work done first then go out later or tomorrow morning ..
…. It’s a bit windy, I’ll go tomorrow …
…. I just don’t feel like it …
BUT in all the excuses, who was I kidding? … only myself.
I was scared, scared of failure
When I did go out, it’s hard for me to put this into words, the feelings I would get. Thinking of how to explain it … still thinking … still …
…I felt an idiot for thinking I could be any good at cycling, I felt I didn’t belong on a bike, I felt weak willed, I felt the route and length of ride I had in mind to do was a pitiful attempt at a training ride, I felt I just want to throw the bike over a hedge, never to be seen again BUT at the same time I want to cycle, I want to enjoy myself cycling, I want to achieve BUT I couldn’t get the thought of feeling pathetic on a bike out of my head.
Training, I know now is not only physical BUT mental
If you don’t put the training miles in you will not reap the rewards. You only get out what you put in.
To blow or NOT to blow
About 3 weeks prior to the sportive I got another of my full blown (about 6 a year) sinus infections affecting the whole ENT (ear, nose, throat), losing my voice (some people were highly delighted about that) etc, the full monty. I didn’t moan about it to you then because I didn’t want you to think I was making excuses if I failed.
Funny that, I can make excuses about not going out to train BUT when it comes to the challenge itself and ‘actually’ being ill I didn’t use it as a bonified excuse!?
Plan Organise Plan Organise
The two week run up to the start of my challenge looked ok. No heavy work load. Bits and bobs to do BUT some relax time (getting over illness) and plenty of time to prepare everything for our 3 day cycling challenge, or so I thought.
From steady away to bonkers! A friend asked if I could help them out, sure I can, that was 3 days taken up. Then realised I was going abroad with an out of date passport, so an urgent appointment and dash to the passport office. I booked myself on 2 courses, 1 a week prior to challenge, the other the day prior, I’m such a spanner! Oh and of course we just HAD to go and spend the day following the Tour de Yorkshire 2 days before the challenge.
…note to self … if there IS a next time, check events calendar first!!..
This is it
Got to bed about 11pm and didn’t have a good night, getting up at 3.3am to start the day. Bike belly was trying to get in my way BUT I was having none of it.
We arrived at Fox Valley, Sheffield (the start and finish of TdYSportive and the finish of pro race) at 5.30am. When I say, we, I refer to me, Jay, who would be riding the whole challenge with me, Seppe and Dennis who were our car support, not that Jay needed it, it was for me.
Bike belly wasn’t bad at all. I think that was because I was petrified and had gone into a bit of a panicked daze. My heart was pounding out of my chest. …’What the hell are you doing here?’ ‘Just go home, go on, no one will notice’. I was so scared. ‘You bloody great numpty’.
………stop talking to yourself!!! You are only making this worse……..
I looked around at the people, cyclists, that were there, all to take part in this great cycling spectacle and I felt such a fraud. These guys had probably been training for months and put in all their training miles. And little dump me rolls up and expects to put on a good show. Wally.
I can’t explain a feeling that came over me. It’s probably something a lot of people may experience at mass sporting events. A sea of bikes and bodies. People chatting, some laughing, some not talking at all.
An eerie lull to their voices as in trepidation and anticipation cyclists wait to start their individual challenges gets ever closer.
Pea Royd Lane
The few days leading up to the sportive I had had a word with myself. Of the hills on the route I had previously done in training, I knew which I could ride up and which I would be walking up. Once I had accepted this fact I felt calmer about the challenge. I was sure no one else would be walking BUT you never know.
I tried to tell myself at least I am out there, at least I am giving it a go
I challenged myself within the challenge.
…Ride up every hill you have ridden up previously
…Ride further up the hills you know you can’t ride to the top of
…New hill, new challenge, don’t look up, keep head down and tap away
…Ride at your own pace, don’t try to tag on the back of anyone
OK Pea Royd Lane, show me your worst! And it did. Rode up the first section ok (well never ok when going UP) then … ‘come on you need to get further than before …. I dug in and think I got somewhere near where I stopped last time.
It was such a strange experience, hundreds of cyclists all snaking their way up the hill and I was part of it. I must say, I was a bit chuffed for having the guts to actually take part.
Could I have gone a bit further? I always worry that I won’t get my foot out of my cleats fast enough and with the adage of a lot of people around, I stopped. If I had gone further it would only have been by feet so I was ok with that.
I was feeling a little embarrassed about stopping BUT, oh yes! Two other people stopped at the same time, YES!! I know I shouldn’t say yes BUT I did make me feel so much better that I wasn’t pushing on my own.
I looked at them, both ‘young men’ and they were pushing. You don’t know how much seeing that spurred me on. I’m overweight, unfit, unprepared (well semi prepared) and you, young whipper snappers are walking. ….’come on fatty, up that hill’ … and I walked with a spring in my step and a feeling of, maybe I’m going to be ok today.
Squeaky Botty Time
I’m not going to give you a mile by mile moan and groan about the whole route BUT 4.7 miles in, sharp right turn. Jay and I had obviously taken the wrong route in training because we had gone straight on. ….’Oh, crap, I bet there is going to be another bloody hill I wasn’t expecting!’
BUT to my very pleasant surprise DOWN we go! I went slowly around the corner as I was checking it was the direction for my route when, a group of about 6 club lads passed me on the corner BUT when I got to the borrow of Hartcliff Road descent, I went for it. Light bike, heavy body = fast downhill BUT, not good cyclist on borrowed bike = squeaky botty time ….. ssssssshhhhhh**********tt!!
My heart was in my mouth. The front wheel was twitching like flip, I didn’t dare put any more pressure on the brakes BUT at the same time I needed to slow down …. Ssssshhhhh****tt, I’m off here and it will be very messy. I love speed BUT that front wheel was twitching away like a pack of bird twitchers on spring watch! …. Ucking Nora, that was close! Calm yourself steady eddy!
I was pleasantly chuffed and surprised at how well I felt by the time I arrived in Holmfirth. Holmfirth was where I was having my first meet with the boys, Seppe and Dennis. I always drink loads when cycling and I always take my own food (since I’m one of those food weirdos who thinks certain gluten wheat dairy food makes them ill).
I knew I could get to Holmfirth on 2 bottles with plenty left BUT I wouldn’t be able to get to the feed station at Emley Moor before running out.
There was only one feed station throughout the whole of the route, not good.
I filled my bottles and shoved some energy bar into my mouth. I felt ok and didn’t want to stop as I knew New Road climb and Netherthong were waiting around the corner.
I left telling the boys to meet me at Emley so I didn’t have to go into the feed station.
Got to Emley feed station, I’d been looking for them on the way but with no sign, so knew they would be at the feed station or just beyond. Feed station, no boys, rang them,
Me, where are you?
Me, CAWTHORN!! You were supposed to be at Emley
Boys, It was too busy there so we came to wait for you in Cawthorne
Me, ……..phone down …. (you know me when it doesn’t go my way!!!)
ONLY another 8 f’ing miles to Cawthorne with the bane of Litherop Lane climb in between.
Went into feed station. Queue for very small amount of toilets MASSIVE, queue for food and drinks MASSIVE … get on bike, get going to Cawthorne.
Got to Cawthorne, rode all the way through Cawthorne, no boys, rang them,
Me, where are you?
Me, Where the hell is Deepcar?! Is it BEFORE Cawthorne?!
Boys, No, we left Cawthorne and came to Deepcar
Me, WHAT THE HELL for?!?!?!?!?!?!? Did I pass you?!?!
Me, Did I fill my bottles and get food?!?!?
Me, So why the hell did you go even further away from me?!?!?!? I have no drinks left
Me, ….phone down ….
A motorcycle assistant assigned to the sportive heard my phone conversation and came over to ask if I was ok. .. Yes, fine thank you, I have food but I’ve run out of drinks. The guy was a saviour and I didn’t even get his name. He was carrying water for people in need and I was one of those people. Thank you kind sir, it was very, very much appreciated.
I was somewhere on the Coates Lane climb, 12 miles further on to where we should have met when I finally saw ‘the boys’.
…Support Team anger session over ……
It’s all in the taking part
Struggling up New Lane climb out of Holmfirth I heard, ‘go on Jo keep going’. Who was that, did I know someone on the ride? A very fit guy came passed smiling away, ‘go on you’ve got this’, as he swiftly rode away. ‘Thank you’ I squeezed out in a jerky breath. Did I know him?
Further up the hill I stopped, took in some deep breaths and when the way was clear weaved across the road to get a bit of a run up the last steep bit. Again, from behind, ‘nice one Jo, you’ve got this cracked, steady away, keep going’.
How did these people know my name? Then It dawned on me, I had a big number pinned to my back with my name on, d’oh. I didn’t know these people BUT we already had something in common in that we were all slogging it out over these hills BUT it really did make a difference when someone put your name in their encouraging sentence.
The power of a word
Struggling up a hill until I came to a stop, legs, arms, chest screaming out, stop. I would get a lump in my throat and want to cry self-pity tears. BUT I would then think of Elaine. The tears of self-pity were put away and I carried on.
Would I have?
Towards the end of the route there were time checks you had to pass before a certain time otherwise your route would be diverted. This was to ensure all sportive riders were over the finish line well before the Pros rode into town.
My worry all along had been, would I make Deepcar cut off? In the planning stage we had worked out that I would passed the cut off by ONLY 5 minutes. I was going better than I thought I would so knew I would pass Deepcar without being divert to the shorter route. BUT then the doubt started to, not creep in BUT gallop!
..what if I didn’t make the next cut off, what would the diversion be like, would it be even hillier than the actual route?
When I next saw ‘the boys’ I said they should wait at Deepcar cut off ‘just in case’. I was more than likely going to give up and do the shortened version on my own accord BUT you never know.
Once I had told myself I had had enough and chose to do the diversion I felt ok for a short time and then ….. STOP talking to yourself!!!
…..’your pathetic’, ‘you’re not even trying’, ‘will you ever succeed at something’, ‘will you ever NOT give up on things when they get a bit tough’!
I couldn’t give up, I couldn’t shorten the ride, that wouldn’t be fair on Elaine.
As I cycled along the A629 towards Wortley I could see the rode in front winding its way gently up and around the corner. I tapped away and thought of Elaine.
I could cop out here, no problem. I can step off my bike at any time and say ‘there you go, that’s it for me, I’ve given it a go but I’ve had enough now BUT …
…When can Elaine ‘cop out’? When can she step off the treadmill and drudgery of pain and treatments? When can she tell cancer she’s had enough and doesn’t want to play it’s game anymore?
Head down, ass up, keep going until they stop you or you reach the finish line
Due to a very sad accident involving a cyclist the route was shortened at Wortley.
I didn’t feel any great fan fair as I crossed the finish line.
I felt embarrassed cycling through the last section to the finish line. The route was lined with 1000’s of people banging on the side hoardings and cheering in support of all the sportive riders. I still felt as though I shouldn’t be there. Everyone was clapping and cheering me in BUT little did they know I hadn’t completed the whole route I had said I would.
I collected my winners medal which I felt a fraud doing. Jay was there to greet me in. He had had a brilliant ride even though he wasn’t fully fit and had been off his bike for over a week. I was so chuffed for him, he deserved a good ride after the monotony of our training rides together.
My calves and rest of my body were screaming at me and remembering some top advice from ‘Poggy’ I laid on the floor with my legs up a wall, at which point, Jay, Seppe and Dennis walked away and left me.
Got to give it to the Tour de Yorkshire Team who came over to see if I was ok. Poor woman, I think she thought I was on my way out.
I always used to say, if at first you don’t succeed, stop, there’s not point making a fool of yourself.
Now, I may still feel embarrassed BUT I am not going to let that stop me from trying.
…. If at first you don’t succeed, you will learn valuable lessons to help you in the future.
If you don’t try you will never succeed
I WILL one day complete the Tour de Yorkshire Sportive 2017
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my challenge. From advice, time, training and donations to Melanoma UK. Thank you.
If you want to get into cycling take a look at British Cycling’s website where you will find a wealth of information.
Check out Let’s Ride social rides near you and for ladies ONLY rides check out Breeze rides.
Self Promotion: If you live in the Wakefield, West Yorkshire area and are interested in Breeze rides (Ladies ONLY) I have set up a Facebook page (nothing on it yet) where as a newly qualified Breeze Champion I will be posting information on up and coming rides for ALL abilities. From, Learn to ride a bike to 50 Mile rides, there will be something for everyone. Breeze Wakefield WWoBS (Wakefield Women on Bikes)
Thank you for reading my blurb
Cycle safe, wear your helmet and smile
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