Monday, 12 August 2013

7 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour and counting!

the great shakespeare 2013

The Kenya crew, plus Kate and Rachel.

the great shakespeare 2013 02 Yesterday we did the Great Shakespeare 100km challenge ride, as a sort of training exercise for Cuba. The FH decided to give it a miss this year, so it was just Kate and me driving up to Stratford on Saturday afternoon for an early Sunday start. Missed him being there, but he must have had prescience! What chaos…

We hung the bikes on the back of the car, Kate left her dogs with various sitters, we stuffed all our belongings in and trundled off for what should have been a simple 3 hour drive up. We were so well prepared!! Ha.

On BOTH sides of the motorway there were burning vehicles [incredible], so the resultant traffic jam added 45 minutes to the trip. It was like being in a Mad Max film…at 2 miles per hour. Thank goodness we packed snacks! The bike rack became a bit rackety, so we pulled off, sorted it and and set off again. Two minutes after getting back onto the motorway I felt like someone was stubbing our their cigarette on the back of my thigh! More pulling off [rather FRANTICALLY] only to discover that a rather large red ant [apparently this was the Police speed enforcement ant] had crawled onto my dress at the sort-out-the-bike-rack stop, and was merrily biting the hell out of me! Suffice to say he died and we sallied forth once more into the breach!

Stopped for a coffee at Strensham Services – OMG!! All the Walmart people were there! 8 coach loads of them! Suffice to say we made a very swift rush to the Costa coffee, where we were served something rather resembling mud in a giant cardboard soup bowl. Rushed out into the car park, and in the frenzy to unlock the car before we were beamed up, I and managed to pop the boot, to which the cycle rack is attached. To open and slam it we’d have had to remove bikes and rack…never going to happen at this point. So we drove the rest of the way with the ‘your boot is open, fool!’ light on. By this point we actually didn’t care. We finally arrived at my friend Loraine’s lovely house in the Cotswolds at about 8.30. In one piece, astoundingly enough…

We had a fab dinner provided by Loraine and a catch up and all got to bed at quite a reasonable hour. Up at 6.00 to leave for the start, toast, coffee and bananas for brekkie then Loraine backed into me in the drive! Luckily just a scuff [bring out the T-Cut] and after a bit of manoeuvring we were off.


Met up with the Crew at the hotel where the cycle starts, everyone was rather jolly, and we were all looking forward to the days ride.

the great shakespeare 2013 04

LITTLE DID WE KNOW! For some reason the day was torturous. Cycling into a head wind most of the time, which sort of takes the fun out of it. Instead of whizzing down hills, one cycles down 9 miles per hour. Frustrating. And tiring.

Plus 5 million miles of wheat fields and cute cottages make one a tad disoriented…being in the Cotswolds for too long makes one feel like one has taken a hallucinogenic drug…

Kate and I decided to do The Hill –’s horrible. No idea what we were thinking. It’s a 21% grade as far as I can remember. I was going so slowly that when a car came down I fell off into a hedge and have some lovely scratches to show for it. Thanks very much to the woman who raced by me shouting ‘get out of the way’ – which I tried to do and fell backwards. But she didn’t stop to see if I had died or not. Probably just as well, as I was a tad peeved at that point! Could have been messy…

Note to Cotswolds people – it’s FAR too cute there, and your roads are terrible! Full of holes and strewn with gravel. And cyclists heh heh

Kate keeled over at the second feed stop, a victim of stuffing far too much cake and bread at the first one. So we lounged about there for a while while she recovered, smoking and drinking coffee, supplied by the amazing ladies who, every year, are there smiling and supplying fab grub to over 600 cyclists.

cotswolds 02 cotswolds 01

We finally lost the will to cycle after some fellow told us there were only 4 km to go, when actually there were still 12 to go! Met up with one of the other Cuba girls and we had a Team Spazz Out, then a mad jelly baby scoffing attack, girded our loins and got going – to find we only had another corner then it was 400 yards to the finish! Total disorientation.

But even with all the delays and chaos, I still beat my time from last year by half an hour, so it’s not all bad! Plus we DID drive for 8 hours, sleep for 5 and then cycle for 6. I’d say that’s a good training day, as we were still functioning this morning!

The Great Shakespeare Cycle is the best organised cycle we’ve done. This is the third year I’ve done it. I forget how hard it is each time. It’s so well organised, you get your time chip, excellent food, go out like the Tour and the marshalling and signage are brilliant. I’d recommend anyone to do it, plus it raises funds for an excellent charity.

If we do it again though, it’ll be a full weekend job, so we can rest before and afterward! Only 7 weeks to go until Cuba! So next weekend we will be mainly cycling up and down hills! In DEVON!

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