- 1230 miles
- 96,270 ft of elevation (3.32 x height of Everest)
- 202 hours & 12 minutes
- 11 sachets of Veloskin Chamois Cream
- 9 sachets of Veloskin Soothing Gel
- Many teary tantrums
That was GBDuro21 in a nutshell!
"...using the sachets as they’re much more convenient to pack for a trip like this than carrying the tins around and I knew exactly how many I'd need!"
They’re pretty scary stats when written down on paper!
On the morning of the 14th august, I was stood on the start line at Land’s End, shivering away in the cold wind, full of nerves, the dread of having to ride my heavily packed bike all the way to the top of Scotland, and apprehension of whether I’d even make it to the first check point in time; never in my wildest dreams did I expect to arrive at John O’Groats in 10th place overall and 5th Lady!
What an adventure from start to finish! Through the rolling hills of the West Country; over pretty much every mountain possible in Wales (it’s true, Wales never fails but my goodness it was brutal from boarder to boarder!), slogging through the Pennines, up hill and down the (Yorkshire) Dales, around the edge of Cumbria and Northumberland and into Bonny Scotland… which certainly was bonny until I got savaged by them damn midges one day and as realised I’d forgotten the insect repellent – worst morning off my life!
From shredding single-track around Llandegla to the relaxing roads where you had a well deserving rest for the mind, legs and lungs, and the stunning gravel roads that snaked their way through the rugged beauty of the Highlands and the shear relentlessness of General Wade’s military road: the Corrieyarack Pass, nothing could ever prepare you for the Hike-a-Bike of Great Dun Fell – the decent of which Lachlan Morton himself admits cracked him, reduced him to tears and states ‘it’s not bike riding’.
At every check point, the numbers of riders dwindled away, most of which scratched in stage 1, possibly due to the physical challenge of reaching CP1 in the tightest time frame of 392 miles in 3 days, possibly because of the mental aspect of the event; either way, one thing all check points had in common was a sombre atmosphere about them, the sort of mood the director of the film
Gladiator portrayed in the opening scene. However, on arrival to CP3 in sunny Fort Augustus, a huge sense of relief loomed over everyone – we’d cracked the race, the final 235 miles were purely a case of survival until the finish!
Stage 4, I’d established I had nothing to lose: I’d exceeded my expectations of myself throughout the race so far and with the finish line at John O’Groats pretty much in sight, I decided to attempt to ride through the night in order to reach a comfortable bed, proper shower, and well-deserved coffee and cake sooner. All was going well, I was covering good ground at good speed, the evening drew in, on went the lights, carried on riding, at around 1am I took a ‘power nap’ simply slumped up against a gate wrapped in my sleeping bag - I couldn’t help but laugh to myself ‘what on earth have I become?!’; ‘roughing it’ in a gateway just isn’t me, I usually like my creature comforts of at least my bivvy. Desperate times call for desperate measures though, right? 3.30am I set off on my way again, not really feeling refreshed at all, still very sleepy, encountered a very beautiful sunrise to quite literally brighten my morning up, 10 painstaking hours later, I reached my ultimate goal: the John O’Groats signpost, the GBDuro finish line!
I was warmly greeted by members of the media crew, some of the riders to finish before me, including the legendary Mark Beaumont himself, and many members of the public asking many questions- where have I cycled from? How far today? Where now? To which I answered, ‘to find a coffee, an ice cream and my bed!’ What a sense of relief to complete what complete this year’s edition of the GBDuro, proud of what I’ve achieved whilst representing some mega brands in the bike industry, but I felt a massive sense of emptiness with not having to jump on my bike again the following day and cycle from dusk until dawn – ‘normal’ life has taken a fair bit of getting used to again.
Thank you to everyone behind the scenes, my amazing sponsors to make them crazy 11 days happen, especially Veloskin for keeping my comfortable for the duration of the race. I use Veloskin anyway as part of their sponsorship of my team, but I got in touch with them asking about using the sachets as they’re much more convenient to pack for a trip like this than carrying the tins around and I knew exactly how many I'd need! Also, to The Racing Collective for hosting such a gruelling event, to all of the competitors for inspiring me for every minute of the race, and to my fantastic friends, family, colleagues, teammates and the dot watchers all over the country for your support throughout the duration!
‘A scrappy rolling picnic through Britain’s ever changing landscapes’ simply does not do the GBDuro justice; you have to experience it to understand it.