On the eve of the Tour de France, Charlie Mills (Oakwrights Partnership Manager) shares his diary of the company cycle team's adventures in the Cotswolds Sportive.
Wednesday 9th January
Email from Dave Grey (Head of Sales) “Anyone need an excuse to ‘get on the bike’?” He said...
Replies consisted of comments checking with higher authorities, before replies of excitement as one by one the relevant stamps of approval were issued and we were Game On! Cotswolds 100 mile Sportive Ride, here we come!!
5 months to train! No problem! “Put me down for the 150 miler!!” I naively commented. Fortunately Christian (Designer and experienced cyclist) suggested perhaps the 100 miler would be a good start, I now see him as a good friend from that one comment!
Monday 20th May (5 months later...)
Email from race organiser: “Dear Rider, Only two weeks to go!”
Conversations of realisation, the Big Ride is 13 days away. Gulp.
Frequent Google searches at Oakwrights W/C 20th May:
“Average speed to maintain during a 100 mile ride”
“What to eat a week before a 100 miler”
“Caffeine limit before heart attack”
“13 day training plan for 100 mile ride”
“World Record for 100 miles”
The 100 mile route around the Cotswolds. Strangely resembles the shape of a bat.
Monday 27th May (6 days before the ride)
Tim (MD) and I (GDB) complete our longest ever ride before the race! 54 miles... My bottom hurts...
Google searches at Oakwrights W/C 27th May:
“World’s most comfortable saddle”
“Substances Lance Armstrong was on”
“6 day Training plan for 100 miler”
“How many calories used over 100 miles”
Sunday 2nd June. The Big Day.
At 5.20 am we left Hereford towards Stratford race course, where the sportive started. It was showing promises of being a beautiful day.
Breakfast, a porridge full of slow release energy. Myself (Charlie) with my head in the clouds.
We got to Stratford race course in which we did last minute preparations on our bikes and all 7 of us suited and booted, pockets, or anything that could be used to store anything in, were filled with something that resembled carbs or sugar!
8am, we were on the line, ready for the start, and excitement was in the air!! Along with the sound of an Orchestra of beeps coming from the hundreds of bike computers all being set.
“3, 2, 1, Go!” We were off! A quick Cross Check for take-off as we started on the road out of Stratford and a re-group and we were on our way! T minus 100 miles.
The first 35 miles flew! Average pace was high, spirits were high, what was the record for 100 miles again??
Mile 36, the Redbull wore off, the hills began, and continued, but what goes up must come down! Until it goes up again... As we powered our steeds deeper into the Cotswolds the view got prettier and prettier! Dave, acting tour guide, pointed out beautiful oak frame houses we had built in the area which complimented the backdrop perfectly.
Unusual machines being used in the race, this man on the horizontal bike flew down the hills.
Many hills, epic views and several tens of energy gels, flapjacks, power drinks, chocolate, Bananas later, we were 60 miles in. We had formed a group with some very friendly chaps and we were still going quite well and at quite the pace!
I was at the front of the pack for perhaps a little too long and at mile 65 I was certainly glad to see the feed station and rest my legs which had more in common with pistons at this point!
View from the front of the Peloton & from the back of the Peloton
We were in no real rush to get back into the saddle but decided to set off again anyway. 35 miles to go, 35 miles of unknown physical territory. The legs were certainly starting to feel the miles and by mile 80 the dreaded sore bottom was the only thing on my mind. I didn’t want to be on my bike, I felt sick from the amount of energy gels I had consumed, I was thirsty but my water bottle was filled with god awful energy powder and I wasn’t having a good time! None of us were!
Mile 90, a surprise water station!! We hadn’t seen a single rider in over 2 hours so decided to pull in before the final 10 mile push. As we got off our loyal bikes, or detached from what felt like another body part, suddenly 2 cyclists passed! Where did they come from!? Then 2 more!! The competitors inside us flared up! Water break over, back to business!! We had some catching to do! We dug deep and powered through the last 10 miles, working together making use of all those hours studying the Tours, one by one we took the cyclists that had overtaken us at the water stop and carried on pushing! The finish line was in sight one more cyclist, one final push! We did it. It felt great! The 80 mile point torture was forgotten about, one by one the team was reunited before a celebratory burger and a pint!! Burning over 7,000 calories, I think we could get away with it!
The Oakwrights Crew. From the left, Dave G, Dave B, Piers, Tim, Julian, Christian.