Finally! Two weeks before the race we rode the course!
I hadn’t managed to ride it during the Long Course Weekend because of unexpected car repairs. We had planned on doing it during the summer school holidays but then a month ago I managed to crash on the bike, dislocate my jaw, get stitches on my chin, do some damage to my knuckles and ribs and get some deep tissue bruising on both my thighs. Expected recovery time: 4-6 weeks. I spent 4 weeks eating out of a blender so camping was out of the question.
Last week I was finally blender-independent so we booked a campsite and a sailing camp (9:30 – 16:00 freedom!) for The Cub, packed the bikes, the tent and wetsuits in the car and set off on bank holiday Monday.
We camped in Dewslake near Lamphey, which was perfectly located: bang on where the bike course splits between the large and small loops and just 10 minutes to The Cub’s sailing in Llanion Cove.
Day one, the big loop
Tuesday was The Cub’s first day of sailing and we rode the long loop that we will have to do twice on race day. Logistics were perfect but as luck had it the weather played up. Wearing long fingered gloves, leg and arm warmers as well as a windproof gilet was a no brainer but it started drizzling as we got the bikes out of the car so I reached for my commuting jacket and chucked it over the rest.
We cycled 100 km that day and I didn’t regret once wearing that much clothing. Mr Tiger had 4 layers on and tells me he wasn’t too hot!
The Narbeth (big) loop was every bit as hard as I remembered from riding it for the Wales Sportive in 2015. Yes, doing that recce was incredibly useful, in particular in terms of pacing.
Day two, the small loop
Wednesday was an easier day with the shorter loop and a lot more time spent in the “green”, indicating less challenging hills (don’t think it’s flat though) despite the wind having picked up.
The weather was amazing, warm and sunny. Riding was a real treat, a lot of fun and we managed to come back early enough to watch the end of The Cub’s sailing lesson.
We left Dewslake on Thursday and stopped in Tenby on the way to recce our favourite pizzeria (and were not disappointed) and to look at the run course. Basically this confirmed that the run is either up, down or on slanted cobbled streets. Slightly scary but what a finish line!
What I take away from those three days:
- Be ready for any kind of weather and if you don’t pack a raincoat or warm gear make sure there’s no chance whatsoever that you’ll need them.
- Stick to your feeding and drinking schedule. Going up and down hills doesn’t mean you’re too busy to eat.
- Take it easy at the start, it’s a tough course, respect it by not going all out at the beginning or you’ll pay for it.
- Bring a positive attitude and soak up the course. Yes it’s tough but it’s also beautiful. Get strength and energy from that.
- Be prepared to hurt. Accept there’s no way it’s going to be easy.
Finally I am looking forward to meeting all the amazing people that will cheer and support us. Some will be friends and some will be strangers but every single one will help us get to that finish line. I thank them all hugely in advance and massive thanks too to all those of you who have already sponsored me. Your support means a lot and has played an immense part in motivating me get to the start line when I was injured and thought of not starting.