Saturday, 28 May 2011

Tour of Wessex - Day 1

If there is one thing I hate about cycling, it's jacket faff. Stopping to continuously change clothing really infuriates me and I would usually rather just be a bit cold and get on with it than faff about. Today however, much to my disdain, a substantial amount of jacket faff was required.

Fortunately jacket faff was the only thing about the first day of the Tour of Wessex that I didn't enjoy. The route was absolutely cracking! After going through Glastonbury and past Glastonbury Tor, we then shot sharply upwards through Cheddar Gorge. The road kept rising steadily, leading into an awesome descent fuelled by a colossal tailwind. In fact the tailwind was so strong that at one point I terrified myself as I only just slowed down enough to make it around an uphill bend!

The first feed stop made me very happy. The volunteers were super friendly and helpful, bringing around trays of bananas and taking my bottle to fill it for me, impeccable service! A few jelly babies and jaffa cakes later and I was back on the road. I felt like I was in a time warp for the next part of the ride as the next feed stop felt like it was hardly any time later. Part of me felt like I didn't even need to eat again so soon but I thought I would top up the water whilst I had the opportunity. My eyes lit up as I saw what was on offer. Trays and trays of freshly made sandwiches filled the tables. There was ham and cheese, coronation chicken, chicken and bacon and about four or five other varieties plus jaffas, jelly beans AND jelly babies, mini flapjacks, bananas, biscuits, fruity chewy bite thingys and fig rolls. Once I'd finished admiring the cyclists banquet, I had a quick munch and went on my way.

Another half an hour passed and this is where the jacket faff began. I ignored the light showers for as long as I could before the little bit of sensible in my brain kicked in and told me I was soon going to be wet, cold and miserable and I really should put the jacket on. Ten minutes later, the shower had stopped but the wind was still cold enough to warrant the jacket so I kept it on a bit longer. Then the road sneakily started going uphill and before I knew it, I was way too hot but I couldn't risk stopping on this hill and losing all the momentum. The jacket was whipped off in a sweaty frenzy at the top of the hill and shoved back in my pocket. Another fifteen minutes went by and guess what? Another heavy shower. The jacket came back out. Another hill... and so it went on. 

The worst jacket wearing moment came on what started out as an innocent uphill gradient suddenly turned into the climb up to King Alfreds Tower. I knew this was on the route but there were no warning signs or anything, out of nowhere the uphill road just notches up a good 10 degrees in gradient. By the time I realised I was on it, I just couldn't stop to take off the jacket, it was too steep. So hot I was that my glasses were completely and utterly steamed up. I had to pull them down and perch them on the tip of my nose just so I could see where I was going. I looked a treat. When I hit the top I swore to myself that no matter how bad the weather got, that jacket wasn't going back on.

The route led out into the West Wiltshire countryside and eventually led us into the very pretty, foresty grounds of Stourhead where I had my one and only 'nearly fell off the bike' moment of the day on a tight, wet and muddy bend. This definitely wasn't just me though as I heard the man behind me nearly stack it around there as well!

A quick stop at the last feed station and I was on the home straight. The last fifteen miles were by far the hardest of the day - not because I had ninety miles in the legs already - but because this was a straight route directly into the headwind. I upped the pace as much as I could (mostly because I was a bit cold and refused to put the jacket back on), got my head down and powered through to Somerton.

The last little kick into Somerton is a toughie after more than 100 miles of cycling but once that was over, I knew it was done. I went over the finish line in 7 hours and 41 minutes and was absolutely chuffed to bits.

Incredibly I got home with more food than I went out with. I must have been subconsciously filling my pockets as I ogled the sandwiches!!


  1. Hooray! Well done for the first day, you are made of strong stuff! :)

    Nicky Y

  2. Wll done Egg - blog is Pendragon Sports website!

  3. Flippin good time egg. Hope it was drier today

  4. Thanks guys! Yes Jo there was sunshine today and everything on day 2..

  5. Learn to put your jacket on and off on the move, without dangling it in your wheels, cogs etc - faffing days over!