Myton Hospice Challenge Ride – a view from (a long way) behind the peloton.

I had entered the 2016 Myton Challenge but due to a mismanaged social calendar I woke up on the morning of the ride (following a 60+60+21+18 birthday party), to find a collection of hung-over guests asleep in our house and requiring lifts to Redditch Station. I was therefore an embarrassing ‘Did Not Start’ on the day. Not every one believed this excuse and so the 2017 event therefore represented an opportunity to prove that I could get round the course.

And I’m not really a cyclist. I arrived at triathlon from a background of swimming and running and apart from the fabulous ‘Grand Day Out’ organised by Lezley in early July my cycling training was sufficient to get me round a sprint distance 20k but no further. There was a lot of talk before the event about who would race and who would enjoy the scenery. I was definitely in the second category and I had established that there were group of cyclists with a similar mind set. so far so good. I had also heard horror stories of cyclists arriving at ‘cake stops’ to find ‘no cake left!!’, so I packed a few protein bars and a bag of toffees alongside my winter jacket and woolly jumper, money for a taxi, phone, portable phone charger, sun cream, a couple of bottles of water , sandwiches, a bag of crisps and an apple. My lightweight rucksack weighed in at 8Kg and I arrived at the start line feeling confident.

Everyone set off like a load of athletes on banned substances!!!! There was no way that I could keep up…. but I pedaled as fast as I could and arrived at the first ‘tea and cake’ break at 15 miles to find most of the TR club already there and looking chipper. People were sun-bathing on the grass outside the village hall wondering whether to have that second brownie, a third cup of tea, or just one more piece of carrot cake. By then I was regretting that I hadn’t headed left on the 50k option a few miles before the tea stop and I realised that for me time spent drinking tea and eating cake was time wasted (because I am SLOW at pedaling), not just by me but by those lovely souls manning the checkpoints and organising the ‘after party’. So after a short break I packed an ’emergency cake’ in my rucksack and pedaled on. The next tea stop was thirty miles away.

Fairly soon I was at the bottom of ‘Ilmington Hill’, familiar from the Winter Series races. I ran/walked up it pushing the bike and enjoying the view. One by one the pretty Cotswold villages passed by. I loved the changes in the landscape along the course… travelling by car is too fast and walking is too slow but cycling is just right to appreciate this. I opted not to do the Saintbury Hill challenge and at one point I was overtaken by a sea of Tri Redditch cycle jerseys shouting a cheery ‘Hello’. I caught up with them at the next tea stop and ate my emergency cake. I knew then that I would finish the course and I spend the next few miles ‘in my head, calculating what I would save in taxi fares if I pedaled to the end.

I was one of the last TR people to arrive at the hospice. Phil H directed me ’round the back’ to the barbecue where more of the TR crowd were enjoying the burgers and hot dogs provided. Russ kindly propped my bike against a tree and Olga provided some welcome Ibuprofen. Objective achieved… I had cycled round the course … only 57 miles because I did not opt for Saintbury Hill route but still for me a distance record. Would I do it next year? Definitely, it’s a well organised ride through some beautiful countryside.