Day 3 of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain

 

By day three of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, everyone was ready for some better weather and we were not disappointed. Although, strange as it was to be woken at 3am by the daylight coming through the curtains, we were grateful for the blue skies as we set off on, what would be the first of two epic stages to say the least. Back to back days of 130 miles [212 kilometres] were going to be a huge challenge and long days were predicted for everyone.

 

For me it was about starting more steadily and surviving what would be the longest distances I’d ever ridden, beating my previous longest of 175km by some margin. For this first of the two long stages, I was riding solo, my Ironman bike buddy was planning a later start, so I had the opportunity to enjoy the company of my husband, who drafted me until his rear mech slipped into his rear wheel. I carried on solo, passing groups of people as I went towards the first pit stop of the day, on the other side of the Glen Coe range.

 

It was a humbling ride to say the least, passing rider after rider all heading out for the gruelling ride. I passed people with every kind of set up; mountain bikes, trainers and flat pedals, some even carrying panniers. It was such a motivating ride, as I bid them all a good morning and felt lucky to be riding a full carbon set up and superlight Zipp 404 wheel setup.

 

 

Photographs courtesy of Phares Photography

 

The miles slipped by quite comfortably with a tailwind and the beautiful weather, as well as breathtaking scenery, all of which made the first half of the ride easier. Before I knew it I was turning to head down the west banks of Loch Lomond and towards the second pit stop. This is where it got quite frightening, as the road was more like a motorway with HGV’s, buses and cars towing vans skimming past me with alarming proximity. I spotted a path that was following the lake shore and after a quick nod from my support car, headed onto the path and away from the busy road.

 

Traversing the banks of the Loch was calm and tranquil and the water looked like a mill pond. All too soon the path ended and I had to rejoin the A82 for the final 5 miles into the second pit stop. With no one else really there, I turned straight round and got back on with the route which took us through a built up area, a dual carriageway and over the Erksine bridge - via the bike path, thankfully. The views from the bridge were quite spectacular and with beautiful clear skies.

 

Almost as quickly as we’d been thrust into the busy sections, I was back out in open countryside as we finished the stage with a loop to the south west of Glasgow which brought us to the camp, south of East Kilbride. This section was in fact more challenging than the climb through Glen Coe, as the road surface was in a dire state and the road either went straight up or straight down

 

With the stage brief indicating we would cover 128 miles, I became rather alarmed that I’d missed the 5 miles to go sign when my power meter ticked over the 202km mark. When the lead motorbike caught up with me, he also confirmed that he thought we’d now passed inside the daily mileage, but then sure enough instead of seeing a base camp, we saw the 5 miles to go! By this point I’d been drinking flat coke, to try and get some life into myself. After 190km on the front and mainly riding alone, I’d started to swing big time and my saddle was very uncomfortable!

 

On realising I could stay there and grovel or step on it and finish inside 7 hours, I decided to pick up the pace again and kept telling myself this is what a lone breakaway would feel like! Thankfully, the flags of the base camp appeared and I coasted in to applause, I was the first rider home! My clock said 6 hours and 57 minutes, a 30kph average speed – although with the 20 minutes I’d spent pfaffing with extra chamois cream and loo stops, as well as the many traffic lights, my official time was 7 hours 17 minutes!

 

As I staggered away to get in the car, James Cracknell appeared to finish, with an incredible solo ride of 6 hours 56 minutes, I wonder if he actually stopped!

 

Thanks to Sarah Storey www.onthedrops.com

 

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