There has been rather a lot going on lately… number one thing is IM FREE…!!! NO MORE WORK FOR A WHILE!!!!!!
You could say I’m having a mid-life crisis at 39 and a bit, or you could say I’m a lucky son of a gun.. But one this is for sure I’m going to make the most of my career break and I’m bounding into every day like a puppy with a new chew toy.
It started a couple of weeks ago with a 360 mile bike pack to Battle on the Beach which is a fantastic race, in fact its Britans only beach race and a mass start of nearly 1000 riders at full chat down a flat beach. The night race added a new element in the addition of spring tides that a lot of us thought we were headed for hard sand when infact it soon dawned on us that people were shouting turn right as encouragement.. because we were actually in the sea… BOTB is always a good opportunity to catch up with people after a winter of hibernation in 50 layers of clothing, or far too much Zwift. The ride over went well and I feel my touring legs should be in the post shortly. Thanks to A Cycling for putting on a great event. After the long ride over it was nice to open the taps up and get the legs stretched even though they felt as empty as a politician promise.
A short hiatus after this for my last week at work. Two days and two night shifts then nothing until October. I’m scared and privileged. But I’m excited.
The next weekend saw a return to Wales (this time in the van), and the Scott MTB Marathon in Builth Wells which is another cracker of an event. This year dry and fast. I had decided before this one that it was going to be a social, as I’m going to have so much time on my own this year. I spent the night ride with a friend having a giggle round the long route. Then the long day as a proud husband when Mrs Teaboy completed her first Full length Marathon looking like she never got out of breath.
So, two great events in 2 weeks isn’t bad.
Week 3 would be pushing it wouldn’t it?
The Dales Divide is a new event this year and the brain child of Chris Ellison, taking in some of the best-off road riding between Arnside and the east Yorkshire coast in a self-supported bonanza of trail riding over the Easter weekend. It is a 370 mile mainly off-road coast to coast loop.
My bike had just had its last set of refinements made ready for America. The bars cut down a bit, the in-line water filter sorted and most noticeably a new set of stiffer wheels from the maestro Paul at PT cycles. They have completely changed the handling of the bike for the better with a 30mm rim and a 2.6 ikon .They are stiff and comfy, actually handling the weight of the bike better than the platform I have been using before. I could throw it around a bit too much on the descents and popped the tyre a couple of times. I’ll put that down to that excited puppy.
This was to be my first proper bike pack race type event and I had set myself the goal of riding at Tour Divide pace on a full weight rig. Something that looked like a bit of a mistake at the start line when people were rolling up on much lighter set ups. But the plan was a shake down of my gear and that was all I needed to get out of it right?
Perhaps inevitably the puppy came out to play again and I got caught up at the start in the main group which was still a way back from the leading pair but moving rather purposefuly. People were pushing hard on the pedals early in the day and one guy was cramping at 2 hours in. This wasn’t boding well. I wanted to drop off the back of the group to find some space to settle but like an idiot I found myself at the front of it looking for space.
Once I found it though and got a bit of food in late afternoon, I started to settle, traveling more steadily and reducing stoppage time. I had the goal of making it past York at the 150 mile mark for a resupply and a sleep. I rolled into York late and resisted the urge for a kebab amongst the night club revellers and scantily clad boppers.
Day 2 started after a cold but very comfortable night in my sleeping bag, (Mountain Equipment Firefly), I drank coffee, ate porridge, had a radioactive pee after the dehydration of the heat and set off for the north York Moors. After seeing the North Sea at Scarborough and passing within 2 miles of my mums house, the route then swung inland through some the greatest climbs in Yorkshire through Goathland and other beautiful parts seen many times on films and postcards. Lots of climbs were over the 33% marker!
The weather was hot and dry and came with a great surprise in it. I thought myself quite well travelled in the UK and I’ve seen a lot of places, but never before have I ridden through the remote moors of Cleveland, WOW !! Mental note made to go back. If you love moorland and gravel, then this would be nirvana to you. (not the band though, more the Buddhist idea of a personal enlightened heaven thing…)
An oversight was certainly made by me and I forgot it was Easter weekend so re-supply was more difficult than expected. This meant a push to get off the moors with a fellow rider and the need to get to Northallerton for a resupply ahead of Easter Sunday. As another rider and I sat on the floor outside a well-known supermarket chain munching pre packed rubbish and laughing about how fast life was moving in a town. It all made perfect sense. I love living on my bike. It all kind of makes more sense in a beautifully simplified way. Even if you are eating tuna from the tin with a tyre lever, a technique I favour over the folded crisp packet trowel method.
Day 3 I awoke from the sleep of all sleeps. The weather was so good that night that I didn’t bother with the tent (Terra Nova Ultra Laser) and just threw my sleep mat (Exped Synmat) onto a groundsheet in the middle of a lush spring hay field. So I awoke to the steadily brightening sky signalling the start of ….. you guessed it… Another day not at work!!!!!!!!! And a bike ride. I was only about 70 miles from the finish and had covered a little over 300 in the first 2 days so apart from a few climbs today should be ok… (they were pretty big climbs but mostly on good ground)
I rolled into the finish 2ndman home at 2 days 6hrs and 8mins. A long way behind first and a fair chunk before 3rdso I’m pretty chuffed with that for a first effort and the weight handicap I had.
It been a great first few weeks off and I’ve met some incredible people, made some great memories and I feel like I’m living my dream. Not something many people get to do and I’m savouring every minute.
Next stop Germany!!