Ok, so last week I took part in the Dulux Trade London Revolution. Something I had worked towards for months and was ready for, or at least I thought I was. I had put in some miles beforehand and went out on my bike at every opportunity I had even if it was only for a hour. Turned out it wasn't near enough.
Last Saturday I set off, alongside hundreds of others, full of optimism and pride. We cycled through London, over Tower Bridge to Croydon and I felt good.
Then about 25 miles in I began to feel the strain. Immediately I thought I've another 75 miles to go today and I can barely make it now! Anyway 35 miles in we reached the first pit stop, thought get some food in me, hot drink and quickly refill my bottles and I should be good to go. Couldn't find any food due to my group been one of the last in there, or maybe there just wasn't any at this one, so made do with what was there. Now i last ate at 4.30am, the time I arrived at the pit stop was 12.10pm. I'd used up my reserves cycling to the pit stop so my body needed sustenance. Gels and drinks only provide so much, all I could find was a choc dip and a banana. They had a beefy bar and something that resembled pot pourri but there was no way I could eat those. So I consumed these and set back off with two others.
Within 5 minutes of leaving it started to lightly rain, I reached for my waterproof jacket and it was gone. I must have lost it at some point. Great. Then it started to get heavier. I had left my overshoes in my car due to seeing the forecast and thinking I wouldn't need them and now really regretting my decision. My body was already getting tired and doubts started to creep in my mind. I had by this point become separated from my companions, the rain was now lashing down and I had another 30 miles to the next pit stop. So I ploughed on. Other riders overtook me but in the main I was solo, for 25 miles I saw about 3 other people. I pushed on through the rain, each pedal stroke taking more out of me than I thought possible. My stomach was aching for some food, my mind screaming at me to stop and my body barely generating enough heat to keep warm. I knew at the 50 mile point I would struggle to continue past the next pit stop, if I made it there. I was getting saddle sores. I was getting lower back pain as my body compensated for the extra pressure i was putting on my legs, legs that should have had the miles in them from my training.
Mentally I told myself I needed to get to the pit stop whatever happened, I got support from several people along the route (thank you, even if I couldn't show it your support pushed me further on!) so I kept on. 3h45m it took me to do another 33 miles from one pit stop to the other. The same time I had rode, hundreds of others had completed the 100 miles. I arrived at the pit stop, almost collapsed off my bike, crawled to the toilet (seriously had needed this for about 2 hours!!) and made my way to get some food. Head was saying get some food, sit down and warm up for 20 minutes and head back out, the on site doctor saw me shivering and got me to sit down and the minute I spoke to her I broke down in tears. I had broken emotionally through the pain of the ride and everything that is going on in my life right now. She got me some food, a hot drink and several painkillers and warmed me up in the van. After 15 minutes she said it wasn't safe for me to continue, I knew she was right.
They brought me back to the Windsor basecamp and I was still shaking 90 minutes after stopping. It wasn't just me either, there was several others who couldn't continue who were in a worse condition than myself. The rain caught a lot of people out and ruined them. I got warmed up eventually, had some food and found the other members of my team. My body ached badly but thought I'd see how I am in the morning whether I continue, hopefully a nights sleep would help. Nope. It took me 4 painkillers to lift my body off the floor of the tent I slept in, I knew my weekend was over.
So the past week I have felt really depressed. Yes there are mitigating circumstances for this, personal reasons I won't go into, but overall its the disappointment of not being able to complete the Revolution. I had poured more effort and time into this than I had done into anything for years. I'd dragged myself out of bed and on the road in freezing conditions through the winter, spent a small fortune on a bike and equipment (not even scratched the surface in reality, who knew cycling was so expensive!) and more importantly I felt I had let down those who had sponsored me. Several people have said I should be really proud of what I had achieved. My longest ride before last week was 26 miles so I had trebled that distance. I attempted it in the first place, many sign up and drop out beforehand or don't turn up on the day. Who knows, maybe if it didn't rain or I had ate more food before I would have had the energy to complete. I know now for next year what I need to do. Yes, I am going again next year. The hollow feeling of failure gnaws away at me, it's lit a fire inside of me to finish and to train more over the next 12 months.
For now I want to thank the people at Threshold Sports and Dulux Trade whose support in getting me back safely and for putting on an event that ran smoothly, all my and our Dulux Select Team sponsors, your support meant a lot to us all and to anyone else who gave me encouragement throughout my training. May 11th 2019, we ride again.