First, some stats from my GPS – Distance Ridden 96 miles (I didn’t turn the GPS unit on until the B&B). Max speed 34.0mph (that must be the descent into Queen Elizabeth Park. I’m a coward). Moving time 09:16. Moving average 10:3mph. Stoppped 1hr 39mins (tea & toast at QE park, full lunch and a change of kit just after the A20 crossing, tea and fruit loaf at Devils Dyke, tea and sandwich at Itford Farm). Overall average 8.8mph (that’s leisurely). Total ascent in meters 2760.Now ‘some anorak’ stuff. I rode a standard Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Hardtail. I ran Specialized Rockster 1.9 tyres @ 50psi (They don’t make these anymore, closest thing would be Hutchinson Pythons). I set my Fox RL 80mm forks soft with a slightly quicker than normal rebound so that they would soak up the smaller bumps and save my wrists. I carried 1 spare tube, plus glue and patches, a small allen key tool, a Blackburn mini pump, a gillet, a chewy bar, and a bottle with ‘gear’ in it. I fitted a small bell on my bike, and it was used a lot. Walkers seem to like a bell.
Having back-up meant that I didn’t have to carry too much kit, and the longest time I spent on my own was about three hours. I didn’t suffer much, and I reckon the good stop half way, and full change of kit paid dividends. The back-up was my lover Carla, who’s experience and skill at looking after bike riders is second to none. I didn’t have to worry, “will she be there?”, and “will I be able to find her?”, because I knew she just would be in the right place, and she’d have everything ready. Even when I turned up at QE park with a buddy she made an extra brew as if she had been expecting it. I couldn’t have done it without her, and it wouldn’t have been half as much fun.
Last year I rode the event on a full-suspension bike. This year I rode a hard tail. Now, if I was going to ride next year which do you think I would choose?