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South Downs Randonee - Broke Me

The story of how, why, when and where.

British Heart Foundation’s Randonnée challenge, billed as the toughest one day bike ride across the South Downs Way, suitable for experienced off-road riders! The 28 June 2008 hosted the three challenges of 100 miles, 65 miles and 35 miles. South Downs Way, the longest continuous bridleway in the country, Start at Winchester in Hampshire and finish at Brighton in East Sussex. I chose the 65 mile event. After not being able to do the event last year after Heart troubles it was important to take part this year and do it. It was the hardest cycle I've ever done, ever!
It all started with a bowl of corn flakes, a banana and a coffee then a drive in the morning sun from Newbury to Winchester. I signed in at 6:20 and by 6:30 I was on my way. Cycling along a farm track to get to the Downs I was thinking this feels cool, maintaining about 13 - 14mph should be done in about 7hrs.... Dream on pop eye... Before I started I said a prayer for a successful ride and for some help to get the course completed and thanks for the great weather, the great cause and brilliant day.
About 10miles in going down a fast hill a guy in front hit his brakes to miss some water bottles on the floor. I very nearly hit the back of him, I said to him that we nearly got quite intimate and he laughed. This was Dave. Going along we did intros and he introduced me to his buddy Tony. They went on to tell me what to expect and how the race will go along. At the first checkpoint (15Miles) we stopped for water and food and chatted about the Queen Elizabeth Park. Moving on, Tony and Dave told me if we stay together they will sort me out with some water and food at the half way point where their family was meeting them.
By about 25 miles I had fell behind and had started to feel the bite of the event. You see, my training had been totally inadequate. Not sticking to plans, taking the kids out and life in general had stopped me preparing as well as I should. Anyway… I had fallen behind these guys and was plodding on at a really slow pace. I had been going now for about 4 hours and had ate all my cereal bars but one and both my bananas. By 32 ½ miles- I remember it well I had given up……… Half Way.
I had lost the plot, lack of training and food was taking it toll. Hot sun, big hills and asking why!... oh why… I prayed again.. Please help me, I need to do this, you have helped me so far please help me more… asking for more isn’t easy. I called Michelle and told her I was in a bad place, mentally and physically. She said you need to pray on it… It turns out she was trying not to help me give up. I carried on about another 50meters and started to descend, at the bottom was a check point about a mile away. I was thinking heading towards it, here is my chance to give up- call Michelle to pick me up and tell the marshals I’ve finished.
What do you know? I pulled in to hear my name being called across the car park. Now! they didn’t know what I was thinking. It was Dave and Tony with their families. They called me over and asked how I was, then started to re-assure me that this was half way so nearly there… They gave me cereal bars, bananas, electrolytes, water, supplements and lucozade to be taking with me. How could I give up now? Re-fuelled and re-assured. We started off up a huge hill but by about 4 miles in I had started to fall behind and off Tony and Dave went into the distance.
I was doing ok up until about the 45 mile mark when I started to need the lucozade.. this ran out quite quickley.
I was really hurting again, cramp, aches, tiredness feeling really weak… By now I was constantly resting, getting off my bike and sitting or lying down, I called Michelle again, saying “I’ve had it, I can’t go on”. She ignored me and told me to do what I feel is right. So I did. I finally got to the last checkpoint at 60miles and filled up with water. I asked the guys if there was a shop so I could get some food. This was about 10 minutes away so I decided to give it a miss. After leaving the checkpoint there was another huge hill, people including me were pushing there bikes up and resting. I got to the top and fell through the gate and lay on the floor. This was at 62.5 miles.
That was it, there was nothing left in me. Nothing…….. I sat there gazing at the sky thinking about what to do, no strength to go on, none to go back. I did the only thing that worked for me all day and prayed. Lord, Help me, you have bought me to here… In Jesus name…
At that a guy came through the gate, saw me on the floor and asked me if I was ok. He asked, “have you got water”? “do you feel dizzy”? I said yes, he gave me some lucozade glucose. He said take that, then some water and you’ll be ok and off he went. After a few minutes I got up and carried on for the last 2 ½ miles. Along the way I met some guys, full of encouragement, they were training for the next event in July. I came to the last hill and there was the finish line.
When I reached the finish line I was thinking to myself, I did it….. I’ve been to hell and back, overcome, fatigue and my mind telling me to stop. I really doubt I could have done it without the help of the people I met along the way. I’ve never dedicated a blog to anyone before so this is the first, thank you to each and every one, the nameless faces, Tony, Dave and their family. I know you are good people because God chose you all to help me to the finish….

Next year, I’ll be back. More prepared so the Lord can have a rest whilst watching me do the ride…… God Bless..

If anyone from the event stumbles on this blog and knows or is Tony and Dave or the great guys who helped the bloke on the Giant Trance. Please get in touch and Thank You…
On the Day..
4 Bananas
6 Crunchy Nut - Cereal Bars.
2 Lucozde
1/2 Litre Electrolyte
6 Litres Water
1 Glucose
65Miles in total (Approx 13mile Accent)
11 Hours - In the Saddle.
Raised £118 and counting

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