"} Get a life, Get active! By Fit Lesley: Challenge 12 - Three Counties Cycle Challenge - July 2012

Challenge 12 - Three Counties Cycle Challenge - July 2012

For the second year in a row I participated in the Three Counties Cycle Challenge on Sunday 8th July 2012.  As I have been concentrating on my running recently in preparation for a full marathon later in the year I hadn't done an awful lot of cycle training for this event - and it showed! Whoever said that if you are fit for one you are fit for both was WRONG!  I realized by the end that I was much more cycle fit last year!

With the awful weather we have been experiencing recently I was wondering whether I would regret entering this year - I watched the weather forecast obsessively for the 5 days prior to the event and it changed daily varying from heavy rain to light rain, from sunny to cloudy!  I was so relieved when I woke up at 6am to blue skies and white fluffy clouds! I was cycling the event with 2 friends, Malcolm who I did this event with last year and Damian who is a die-hard cyclist and extremely fit!

The event is chip timed so you can set off anytime between 7am and 8.30am. I find this a good system as you don't feel intimidated by all the elite cyclists setting off at stupid speeds alongside you (unless you are very unlucky and there is a group of them leaving the same time as you!).

We were cycling from where we live in Kendal to the start venue and agreed to meet up at 7am giving us plenty time to cycle the 8 mile journey before the registration point closed. We arrived at Dallam School in Milnthorpe (the start) at around 7.40am  registered, received our numbers, timing chips and energy gels (obviously they thought we would need extra energy!) attached the numbers to our bikes using the cable ties given (a challenge in itself - one in which I failed and needed rescued by a man and I couldn't help but comment on his expertise with cable ties - if you have read Fifty Shades of Grey you will get my humour!).  Eventually we were ready for the off at around 8am! I kindly let Malcolm and Damian go through the start timing point first (well planned so I would get the shortest recorded time of the three of us if I went through the finish timing point first! Tee hee hee!).

We were off ... feeling slightly daunted at the HARD 60 miles to come Malcolm and I said to Damian (Mr Fit) that if we went too slow for him he could go on ahead and leave us! He said "I have a Motto - start a sportive with people, finish with the same people!" so it looked like we were stuck with him!

We enjoyed a lovely scenic ride in the nice warm early morning sun  from Milnthorpe along the sea front through Sandside to Arnside,  through Silverdale onto Burton before hitting the first major climb of the day! Half-way up this hill my chain came off (grrrrrr), Damian was motoring on ahead attacking the hill as if it was just a slight slope (and didn't even notice I'd stopped!) but luckily for me Malcolm was behind me and stopped to assist the Damsel in Distress (sometimes it pays to act useless!). I got back on the bike and climbed the rest of the hill, difficult to do from a standing start! From here the route went down a fairly steep hill into

the small town of Kirkby Lonsdale to Casterton and Barbon  finally arriving in Dent where the first timing station was located and a Food stop!  So far we had experienced sheep on the roads, rabbits darting out in front of us ( but luckily not many cars), a chain coming off and I had survived an extremely steep descent that I had forgotton about from last year and it was only when I was half-way down that I thought "OMG its THAT hill!". I was scared but not as traumatised as I was last year - I must have toughtened up! However, the descents were even more dangerous and hazardous this year due to all the heavy rain we have experienced in recent weeks washing stones, gravel and debris from the hills onto the roads! I was very nervous about skidding!

We were just about half way at this point - with the worst climbs still to come! I refuelled with a ham sandwich, flapjack, banana and a cup of coffee and in no time at all, after a quick visit to the ladies we were back in the saddle! A crucial, must get it right point here - Turn left for the 120 mile route or right for the 60 mile route! This is one time I wasn't going to get lost! A quick right turn over the cobbles      mixed up my food and drink nicely! 


Refreshed and ready for the climb at Kingsdale?! Not quite but hey-ho I've done it before I can do it again!  I have decided climbing hills on a bike is a bit like giving birth ... bloody horrendous at the time but soon forgotten when you are gliding down the other side ... and forgotten I had!  I cursed under my breath as I huffed, puffed and strained my way up before admitting defeat and gave my bike a little rest!  Kingsdale is a steep (1 in 4) ascent for about a mile although it felt much longer! It is immediately followed by a very steep descent.  There were several more challenging ascents and descents and by the 30 mile mark my legs were beginning to feel a bit like jelly. Poor Damien had lots of opportunities to sun himself whilst waiting for us two to catch up! After tackling Kingsdale the miles we covered to get us to the next control point at Hornby seemed easy and we arrived after being in the saddle for about 4 and a half hours and covering approximately 45 miles!

I checked in with my timing tag then got a coffee and a piece of malt loaf to keep me going!  The food and drinks were set up outside the building so we had to eat and drink whilst standing or leaning against a wall!  They obviously thought we would had long enough sitting on our bums! This was probably a good strategy as it meant we didn't hang around too long once we had finished and we were back in the saddle for the last leg of 15 miles!  Not long after leaving Hornby we were greeted by several more climbs before the route leveled out and we were on the homeward straight!

We arrived back at Dallam School to the welcoming smiles and claps of the marshalls. I made sure I checked in first so I appear higher up in the finishing positions than to the boys! Such simple things please me when I have endured such a tough ride! There was more refreshments here - coffee, tea, hot dogs as well as an opportunity to have a leg massage!  I gave this a miss as we still had the 8 miles to cycle home!  I think if I had had a massage I would have been good for nowt!  We waited with baited breath for our times to be printed and I was very disappointed to see that we were actually 30 minutes SLOWER than last year!  I know I am not as cycle fit as I was last year but I was sure we went at a faster pace than we did last year!  Perhaps we spent too long enjoying all the scrumptious refreshments!  After a short rest we set off on the journey home, being waved off by the sensible people who had driven!  We were even offered "van space" (at a price lol) by one fellow cyclist who thought we were bonkers to cycle back! I arrived home at just after 2.30pm just before the rain started - phew we were lucky, considering the forecast said 1pm for rain!  We had covered 76 miles in total and had been in the saddle for approximately 7 hours! I was absolutely exhausted!

Whilst we were cycling we commented on how much quieter the event was this year compared with the previous year! Last year we had plenty opportunities to chat with other riders along the way but this year we hardly came across anyone else.  However looking at the results it appears that this is not the case!  This year there was 72 riders who tackled the 60 miles route and last year it was just slightly higher with 81 entrants! It must be because we set off about 45 minutes later this year meaning the majority of cyclists were ahead of us!

Yet again the volunteers and organisation were faultless.  All the staff and marshalls were extremely friendly and encouraging from the start and all around the course, and the refreshments were plentiful and extremely tasty! Yet again I really enjoyed this event and once the memory of Kingsdale has faded I may consider doing it again next year - but this time with a lot more training! The only suggestion I would make to enhance the event would be a finishers medal!  I do like a bit of bling!

The ride can be viewed here! and the results here!

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