Its all over, I didn’t think I was going to win today, then I suddenly came incredibly close to being able to do just that. I was beaten by an outstanding climber today, Jules Toone, it was a great battle. I was on for a sub-4 hour time, my target. It felt as hard as ever, just doesn’t get easier, it was emotional.
To do well in events you must focus on the processes involved, not the nice bit of standing on the podium. I purposefully didn’t allow myself to think about the possibility of winning. At the first climb I was aware I was in second, no idea about times but I couldn’t see Jules. Helpers gave me time checks and it seemed she was gradually pulling away, I stomped on, focussing on my intentions, coping with the pain and discomfort. Descending went well and I was feeling confident on the bike as I avoided a few over the bars moments.
Suddenly, Jules was in sight just before Horton-in-Ribblesdale, she was in first place. For a brief period of time I was sitting in first, then she decided to take me to the school of climbing, I had no answer but to wait for the descent and risk all. As I started my chain jammed up due to my incompetence. I couldn’t release it, a marshal came running over and we gradually prized it out between us ( I may have sworn). I had no choice but drop down Pen Y Gent at full swing pelt, it was awesome, gaining a few cheers as I drifted around the dodgy left hander halfway down. Unfortunately, the inevitable happened, not that far from the bottom, punctured, it was chase over, I managed to ride it back along the road, losing places to blokes but held on to second place in the women. I was gutted, though I don’t think I would have caught her anyway, I just wanted a clear chance at it.
My aim was sub 4hour, I almost managed it at 4:01:22, in very similar conditions to last year, 6 minutes quicker. Superb riding by Jules, she was incredible today, as she has been all year.
Big thanks to Garry Palmer at Sportstest for giving me the legs to do such endurance events, I’m built like a sprinter (and can sprint) but somehow he manages to find what I need.
And Paul at Brothertons, I couldn’t race at this level without the equipment and spannering he provides, more about that next time.
My helpers Mel, Rhys, Alistair and Caroline were fabulous this weekend, giving their time and enthusiasm, its greatly appreciated. Lots of shouts on the side-lines, I also guzzled lots of people’s water en route up Pen Y Gent, thanks to them!