Last night was great – my Coast to Coast friends came around for a bit of team talk, chit chat and home made Go-Faster Anzac biscuits. We were discussing the practicalities of how to get us all to the start line and home again after we’d survived the 150 miles of pedalling through Cumbria, the Yorkshire Moors and somehow finishing at Whitby.
While we all know each other (as members of the same church) we are still getting to know each other as cyclists. This is fun. Mind you, we already have some changes as our friend Phil is needing to withdraw. Phil, we feel for you, man. We already miss you. Another team member, He Who Cannot Be Named, couldn’t make it last night.
We’re a mixed bunch in terms of our cycling and experience of this sort of event. None of us is wanting to step forward as a leader but nevertheless we made a decision on what we need to do next. You see, we’re all terribly nice to each other – but it’s every man for himself on the day!
Paul is a bit of a numbers person. He likes stats, percentages, trends and generally working things out. He’s precise, meticulous and doesn’t take unnecessary risks. This shows itself by figuring out what gear ratios are needed for different hill climbs, the ideal cadence for different inclines, how many calories are needed and eaten at what rate, fluid consumption, heart rates and, well you get the drift. I was confused and daunted by all this. I couldn’t help but think the best thing is to train and do it, judging the terrain as I go. C’mon!
Josh, complete with his laptop, was a real gift in the conversation for Paul. He was coming up with all kind of technical information which Paul just lapped up. References were made to Strava and the hill climbing heroes of Hardknott Pass. I got lost again, even more daunted – Hardknott Pass is now sounding scary. Climbing Hardknott is an early challenge in the day and probably the hardest of all the climbs. However there are other climbs which are still very challenging and will crop up at the time when my energy levels will be drained. Gulp.
Sensing my apprehension Jeremy piped up “But Doug, you’ve already done one of those climbs, wasn’t it Kirkstone?”
“Yep you’re right, I have, I enjoyed it” as I desperately tried to remember how hard it was “and that was one of the few times I used my granny ring”. This granny ring is the small chainring with just 26 teeth on my triple chainset; this is a seriously low gear for crawling up the steepest of hills. It’s true I never need it around my usual cycling areas in Herts, Beds and Bucks but it is nice to know its there. I have a sneaky feeling I’ll be using it a lot on the Coast to Coast!
Robin (second left) is also talking about lowering the gears on his carbon fibre Trek. When I say lowering gears, this is only to a 28 tooth sprocket. Combine that with his 34 tooth chain ring, that’s still not exactly low in my book. Mind you, for a cyclist like Robin who flies along it should be fine for him. He’s the kind of cyclist who will average 16mph, riding into a stiff wind for 90 miles which includes stopping at every red traffic light in London. That’s cool.
Jeremy, far right, he’s the carefree thinker of the group and the one who actually started the ball rolling. He’s the adventurous cyclist who normally seems to avoid getting problems normal cyclists encounter. In fact getting a puncture recently came as a bit of a shock. He’s also turning out to be a really regular frequent cyclist, often grabbing the odd blast while at lunch. Seems he’s getting the right mixture of short fast rides in the week and longer rides at the weekends. I have cycled a few times with Jeremy, certainly a brilliant pace maker. Or at least he would be, providing I could keep up with him.
So there y’go, some of the Coast to Coast in a Day team from Dunstable. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the day itself and the immense sense of achievement from having completed the challenge – cycling 150 miles in a day, with 4,500 metres of climbing. This event is on 28th June but the journey has already started. We’re all gradually increasing our weekly mileages, we all have decent bikes (mine’s a bit heavy) and we all have training partners on tap with boundless motivation and encouragement. Although it’s a huge challenge and I don’t know if I’ll make it, I’m really enjoying the journey!