Event 31 – Torbay Half Marathon

Torbay seaside

So, two days after Event 30 I find myself on the start line of Event 31.  The Torbay Half Marathon, an event I have done twice before and also only an hour from home 🙂

Two years ago I did it with my friend Jo and last year I was did it on my own, with support from my friend Sarah.  This year Jo was back by my side and my sister Adi was the support crew….cow bells at the ready.   Adi was lured to the race by the promise of good weather by the seaside.  The good weather didn’t happen…but at least it didn’t rain.


Adi picked Jo up on the way to my house and we set off just after 6.30am.  We were in Torbay just before 8am.  They have recently changed all the roads round Torbay/Torquay and my poor satnav which been my best friend this year got very confused and for a while seemed to think we were in a field lol!   We finally saw the seafront and although it wasn’t where I was expecting to be we managed to to follow the coast road to our parking place.

We were on the start line at 8.45 when I decided I needed a coffee!  I think I have a slight cold and my head felt a little foggy, I needed a quick caffeine fix.  Adi gave me some money and being at the seaside there was a little shack selling hot drinks right there.   With only eight minutes to the start I was glugging it down, they had put a little cold water in for me so it was’t too hot.  It did the trick and I was ready to run as the gun went off at 9am.


It’s a fairly big race, around 1600 runners,  so it took a few minutes to cross the start line and then we ran the first 1.5km round the green on the seafront.  The green was covered in bouncy castles and fun things for kids, last year there were donkey’s but this year they were gone 😦 I vaguely remember something in the paper about the council putting up the cost of the rent, which was a shame as they were lovely and obviously well looked after.

This part of the race is very well supported and as well as the initial 1.5km you pass by once more after the first lap and then again at the end.  Good for supporters to see their runners.  We saw Adi cheering as we headed out for the first lap which takes you out to Torquay and back.

Jo running easy

It’s not flat, but it’s still quite a fast course because the uphills and downhills are a nice gradient.  Fairly manageable to run up and not too much of killer on the knees running down which I was very grateful for.

Jo’s plan was to run it all with me.  I wasn’t sure how this would work out as she is a faster runner ….in fact two years ago she had left me for dust before we had even turned the first corner of the green!  But this year we stayed together and kept a steady pace.  I have improved which helped and Jo just wanted a training run for her upcoming Iron distance race in four weeks.  We even chatted!!! This is huge for me as when I first started running  the thought of running AND chatting seemed crazy.  I didn’t have the breath for both.

Steve Way

The route follows the coastline and goes up and down three hills before a flat section of around 1km then a turn around point, back along the flat and then the hills again.  A small loop round half the green and then repeat.  The roads are closed, so no cars to worry about and you can see runners all the time in each direction. Caught a quick glimpse of elite runner Steve Way, who I hear on my Marathon Talk podcast.  It also means that you may get lapped….which we did, but only by the first three runners, and I was really pleased that the point we were lapped at was much further along than last year.

Running with Jo

It was the best fun running with Jo.  We know each other so well that we didn’t feel the need to talk all the time, happy just to have company. Plus Jo knows how to encourage without making you feel like you did well just turning up.  She could see real improvement in my running and was very generous with her praise.  Her delight in my progress really spurred me on. Having done the course before I knew that I was attacking the hills much better this year.

Chief Supporter Adi

We whizzed through the first lap without stopping and in fact it was only in the last 3km when the humidity and fatigue got to me that we had a couple of short walk breaks…really short, twenty seconds or so.  It’s all I need just to get my breathing back in check.  Jo stayed with me the whole time.  We also walked a few paces at the water stations, easier to drink without choking!  The water stations were all manned by small children who were so sweet and did a great job.

It such a nice race to do.  The closed roads are great and the support is good.  A coupe of sections have loud music and people wave from their houses.   Our special supporter Adi also surprised us by turning up about 2km further along the course than we expected.  Cowbells ringing she cheered us along.  She had also chosen to be at the bottom of the hill so that we would definitely be running at that point lol!  Probably wasn’t room at the top anyway as that was where the ambulances had set up, for some reason 🙂   In fact as well the ambulance there were two paramedics on push bikes sitting poised at the top of one hill….


After completing the two laps you are back on the sea front at Torbay with signs counting you down from 800m.  More encouragement from Jo to keep going and I  even managed a little sprint at the end.  Over the line in 2.16.37 which is a really good time for me.  We collected out goody bags which and our medal and headed for an ice-cream.  We had been discussing the post race ice cream for the last 5km 🙂   Adi only had enough money for two ice creams WHAT!  She kindly let us have them – thanks Adi xx


31 events done!


Event 30 – Moors Valley 10k


Another event that started in the evening. I’ve turned into a night owl!

I booked this event after receiving a flyer in my goody bag at Event Number Two, the one where there was torrential rain for the whole event.  Despite the rain I loved the run and thought it would be nice to come back in the summer in nicer weather.   I though it was in the same place….it wasn’t lol!  Totally different country park but in the same area.  It was almost the same weather, we had torrential downpours all the way on the drive to Dorset….but in the end it was perfect.

I had buddies on this event.  My sister had no choice, I just booked and paid for her entry, she was in.  But a few weeks ago after Heidi had a great parkrun we started a 10k chit chat…. “Heidi you did so well on your 5k, you should do a 10K”  “er…should I??”  “yes you should”   Heidi was in!  YAY!


I was worried about the drive on a Friday night, the west country can be a bit crazy on a Friday especially with Glastonbury on,  but apart from the rain it was fine and we arrived in good time.  In fact Moors Valley Country Park was bathed in sunshine and looked like no rain had fallen all day.  Strange.  But very welcome as the whole route was on country trails.

We faffed about a bit, putting our bibs on and debating whether to wear shorts or capris…the things you worry about!  In the end we all opted for capris.  Adi regretted the  decision, Heidi seemed fine and I hadn’t actually brought any shorts so had no choice.  Then we all went to the loo 🙂


Totem pole start line

I guess there were around 300 runners and at 6.50pm we headed over to the start which was at a totem pole. Heidi was quite tired after some gardening work this week.  Adi had been having some knee and hip pain and I was just worn out after my trip to Sweden and hadn’t run since my 10k at Cheddar two weeks before.  Fair to say we all were wondering what the hell we we doing there!

But then it started, and as we were very near the front we were immediate passed by a stampede of speedy runners!

I went off way too fast, especially considering the first two kms were uphill.  My watch was saying under 6min kms….TOO FAST !!!  I knew I couldn’t keep it up…and didn’t.   But I settled into a nice pace and the first 5km were fun.


It was run along gravel paths and sandy tracks.  Sometimes they were a bit boggy and there were a few puddles, but given the recent weather it was great conditions.  A rainy day would have been a very different experience.  The whole event was bathed in evening sunshine and it was very pretty out there.

It wasn’t particularly well signed and at one point there were two paths, I saw a ribbon which I hope was part of the event and I had people to follow but I was slightly worried about Heidi and Adi behind me possibly not knowing which way to go.  The marshals …well, I’m always very grateful for anyone that gives up there time for me…but they weren’t very encouraging or helpful, which was a shame.


I enjoyed the park and it was a pretty place to run.  Before long it it was half way and the water station.  Very welcome as it was a very warm evening.  They were mumbling about people needing too much water and in fact, as I learnt from Adi later they were having trouble providing for everybody and Adi said that some people had to wait while more water was got out of big water canisters.  Adi was fine, fortunately.

By about 7km I was feeling pretty cooked, my speedy start was paying back.  Wish I had set off slower.  3km seems a long way when you are tired.  After a few more undulations I turned a corner and saw the finish…or was it?   It really wasn’t clear.  There were just bunch of people there. Turned out the finish was somewhere else, but EVERYONE had gone wrong.  Some said “you’ve finished” and I stopped my watch.

Heidi finsihing

I was lucky that I had done almost 10k, some went wrong enough to have only completed 7km!  This has happened to me and Adi before and it can be very disappointing.

I got my goody bag and medal went to wait for Heidi and Adi.  Heidi came in around four minuets later and Adi shortly after.  Heidi was on top of the world, her first 10k and she ran it all and Adi was pleased that despite being in pain she had got round, running all the way.  We were all very happy.

Post race stretch

It was a great evening in a lovely park.  Probably wouldn’t do it again as the organisation was a bit hap hazard.  It was a charity event…but still, basic signage and directions were still required.

Thrilled to have down this with Adi and Heidi, very special

Event 30 done!







Event 29 – Vätternrundan 300km

Lake Vättern

The Vätternrundan is a 300km bike ride round Lake Vättern in Sweden and starts and finishes in Motala.  23000 riders take part, setting off in small groups every two minutes from 7pm Friday evening until 5.30am Saturday morning.  Everyone gets until midnight on Saturday to finish.  Because of this there is quite a mixture of riders taking part, from elite level who usually leave at 5.30am to more leisurely riders who start early but may stop for a nap or two.

Ian had hoped to do this ride a few years ago but it’s quite hard to get into, selling out within two minutes of entries coming online.  This time we were prepared and registered our interest last September which gave us a higher chance of a successful entry.  Ian had his finger on the button on the 4th of November at 6pm Swedish time and boom we were in!   I remember feeling great excitement at getting a place, quickly followed by OMG 300KM!!!!

Villa Hamra – our guest house

So after a long but straightforward journey (4 hour drive to Stanstead, overnight stay, flight to Skavsta, hire car to Motala) we arrived at our guest house sometime on Thursday afternoon.  Ian had stayed here before.  When he didn’t get his place in 300km race three years ago he did the half version and livened it by cycling to and from Stockholm.  We were greeted by Eva who runs the guest house with big hugs and tales of how wonderful Ian was and what a great cyclist he was.  She had been telling the other guests about him.

The guest house was perfect.  Eva is a huge cycling fan, her father had founded the Vätternrundan event 50 years ago.  The whole house was covered in cycling pictures and even the duvets had little bikes on them.  This weekend she would have 20 cyclists staying, I was the only female! There wasn’t really room but she had set up extra camp beds in her drawing room, piano room  and even a caravan in the garden. Her husband would be doing it for the first time too (he is 61) so everyone was very excited.

Duvets for cyclists

Thursday afternoon we drove into Motala and registered.  The whole town was set up for the event, big marquees everywhere, a huge cycling expo and lots of food places.  Then it was back to the guest house to put our bikes together.

Expo day down by the lake

On Friday morning we cycled into town to check our bikes were ok, check out where the start was and get some lunch.  We had a lovely ride alongside the lake to a great lunch spot.  Most of my pictures were taken here as the sun was out and the lake looked great.  On the ride, I didn’t stop much and funnily enough we didn’t see the lake that often!

When we got back to the guest house all the other cyclists had arrived and there were bikes everywhere.  Everyone had a different start time throughout the night so Eva would be feeding us our “breakfast” all through the night too.  We had ours at 7pm, special porridge with nuts and fruit and also a drink with quinine in to stop us getting cramps – she had thought of everything.

Three pens – nearly time for us to start

At 8pm we cycled into Motala for the start.  It was buzzing with thousands of cyclists, but very well organised.  Three pens, with the start times flashing up when it was your time to go.  21.10 – our number came up, we got into our pen with about 40-50 other people.  It was all automated with a running clock.  Each pen went every two minutes with a countdown. So we only waited a couple of minutes, the rope came down and we were off for a 300km all night bike ride.  People cheered as we went through the town and there were lots of little groups out sitting in deckchairs clapping throughout the whole race.

Pre race snap

Ian left me after about….. four minutes lol! But of course there were so many people that I was never alone.  Always someone to ride with.  Little groups formed which was useful for drafting and as it got dark was helpful for lighting up the road.

21.08 …our two minute countdown…52 secs to go!

The roads were amazing…so smooth, so different from home.  I don’t think I saw a single pothole!  Surprisingly most of the roads were not actually near the lake.  It would appear every now and then but mainly we were surroundly by pretty fields and sometimes on more major roads.  But most roads were traffic free on our side and even when there was an odd car it was totally outnumbered.

The marshalling was exceptional, two or more people on every roundabout.  There were also nine feed stations and again well organised. Hot drinks, energy drinks, bananas, pickles and some lovely sweet rolls… which I didn’t think I would like but did and ended eating quite a few through the night – perfect bike food 🙂   Plus, plenty of loos, mechanics and space to park your bike.  I didn’t stop at all of them but it was good to know they were there.  I loved seeing the signs…5km to feed station (but in Swedish) …then 1km to feed station…. then feed station.

Swedish countryside

The course was not flat but no crazy hills, just undulating.  I didn’t need to get out of my big chain ring for the whole ride.  Some people did seem to find the “hills”  harder than others and I saw a few people walking, but like I say it was quite a mixed group of riders.  Although most had road bikes, some were on mountain bikes and wearing trainers….and I did see a guy wearing clogs, with a basket on his bike and loud music blaring.  Eva had told me about him, he has done every Vätternrundan since the beginning.  I also saw a preacher at the top of another hill, he is quite famous for being there every year and preaching the gospel as riders go by.

Riding at night

So we had set off at 21.10 and by 11pm it was starting to get quite dark.  I had left putting my lights on until the last minute as I wanted them to last the night.  Fortunately darkness only lasted a few hours and by 2.30am it was light again.  This certainly helped keep me awake.  I had been worried about cycling when I should have been asleep, especially after my F*cking Moonwalk experience!! But the light helped and so did the rain which came down at 3.30am in torrential form.  I got very wet very quickly.  I did have the wherewithal to take my arm warmers off and put a jacket on which was a good move as when it finally stopped I had something dry and warm to put back on,  I had also brought spare gloves too.

The rain lasted about an hour and then it was just cloudy with a little light drizzle.  We were lucky, some of the riders that started later got around five hours of rain.

Jan-Erik at the feed station

I stopped at a feed station just after the rain stopped to put my dry stuff on and bumped into Jan-Erik, our host from the guest house!  What were the chances?? He had left 90 minutes before me and there were literally thousands of riders 🙂  He showed me his special gloves – yellow marigolds, which he wore underneath his  short fingered bike gloves lol!  Unusual but surprisingly effective.

300km is a long way and at times it was mentally tough.  The kms were counted down at the side of the road every 10kms  290, 280, 270….  At 180km to go I realised I still had an Ironman bike distance left and I had already been cycling for 4.5 hours – Crikey!  You know you are in a different kind of event when you pleased that there is “only” 100km to go 🙂

I tried as much as possible to stay with little groups to save energy and protect me from he wind.  This worked well although as I was often much faster up hills than my group  I would sometimes ride on and try and latch on to another group further up.  At just over ten hours I heard my phone ding…I knew it was Ian texting me to say he had finished.  I still had 60km to go!  But I was going well and further along than Ian had expected so he said he would wait for me at the end rather than go back to the guest house.

At 260km I had a slight wobble…I couldn’t see straight as I was so tired from lack of sleep.  My body felt fine but my head needed coffee and another sweet roll.  I stopped at the next feed station and felt much better afterwards.  The last 40km I was pretty much on my own, no groups my speed to ride with although I did have a guy who clung on to my back wheel for about 30km until I got so fed up with him not taking a turn in the front I put my foot down on a slightly steeper hill and left him.  He never caught me up.

Happy with our medals

The very last part was along a road that we had cycled the day before so I knew where I was and that it was nearly over.  The last 10km marker was  good to see. I came over the finish line and could hear Ian cheering for me.  I got my medal and went off to get a big hug from my hubby.  He was really pleased with how well I had done.  He also had a great ride and was now hanging out at the end with his new buddy Neil who he had done much of the ride with.  Neil was happy to stay with Ian until I turned up as you are not allowed to drive for 6 hours after the finish of the race and the police do check.

We were cycling back to the guest house so were fine.  Just another 5km to go until I could have a nap, and that’s what we did.  Arrive at guest house, shower and nap.  After our nap Eva insisted that we got in a hot tub in the garden “for our muscles” then into the jacuzzi (a different tub) “to relax”  then gave us a cold beer “to help us sleep” 🙂   By now some of the other riders were back so it was all very jolly…and very Swedish.  Another nap and then pizza with everyone at the guest house.  Eva had arranged all this for us too, so kind.  Then back to bed for a good nights sleep 8pm – 7am.  We woke up Sunday with no idea what day it was but feeling pretty good and happy.

Of course I had an ice cream
Ian, Eva, Jan-Erik and me

We still had Sunday at the guest house and after packing up our bikes and a nice lunch in a nearby pretty town we headed off to the airport where we would stay over night before an early flight Monday morning.  It had a been a fantastic weekend, great hosts, an amazing ride plus hanging out with lots of cyclists, and then just when we thought it was all over the weekend got a little bit better…..

We were having a meal in the restaurant at the airport hotel when I saw a girl at a table with three guys, who seemed familiar.  I must have looked over at her many times and in the end said to Ian I think she is a famous cyclist.  It was, it was Olympic champion and all round elite cyclist Nicole Cooke.  The thing that made this slightly more special was that I happened to be reading her book this weekend!!! I dashed up to the room and got it and then went over to her.  She laughed so much when she saw me standing there with the book.  Here in a budget hotel in Sweden was a random lady who not only recognised her but had her book.   They had all done the Vätternrundan and we had a good chat, got my book signed and got a photo.  She was very lovely and it was the icing on the cake of a great weekend.

Nicole Cooke







Event 28 – Cheddar Gorge 10k

Cheddar Gorge

This race was the best fun – mud, drizzle, slipping and sliding…oh and running!

I realised a few weeks ago that I had nothing booked for this past  weekend – probably thought I deserved a rest 🙂     A quick scan of the Runner’s World events calendar and I saw this (fairly) local 10k – entries still open!  It was only an hours drive but still in Somerset and it was cheap – I booked it.

The day before I thought I should check the route – note to self – do this when booking!!!   Not only was it all on trails, there was a thirty minute hike uphill to the start.  My plans of turning up at the last minute, running and coming straight home where starting to fade.  I would now need to get there early enough to park, hike to the start and leave enough time to recover from the hike – WHAT!!!

Oh well.  The race didn’t start until 11am so it was still a fairly leisurely start to my morning.  Left home just after 8am and had a quiet drive to Cheddar – home of the cheese.

The route from the car park was well signed, just as well as it turned off the road and into a mass of trees.  There were steps cut out into the hillside.  It was muddy and quite slippery – wishing at this point that I had put my trail shoes on instead of my trainers and I hadn’t even reached the start.

At the top of the hill was the start area on a big grassy field.  I’m sure there would have been fantastic views but it was raining and very misty.  Everyone was very friendly and I spent the next 45 minutes or so chatting away with other runners, and most of them did seem to be runners – not triathletes and cyclists just doing a running event.

Stone wall climbing

At 10.40 we watched the kids race – they charged round a 300m course on the wet grass which was surprisingly hilly, and got lots of cheers from the crowd.

Rocky path

At 11am is was time for the 5km and 10km race to start.  There was also a half marathon race which I was very pleased that I wasn’t doing, they would start ten minutes after us.  The organiser gave us a quick race briefing – “it’s wet and very slippery” just about summed it up…oh and “you’re not actually at the top of the Gorge yet, the first 1km is uphill”  …oh yay.


He blew a whistle and we were off.  The uphill was not too bad and my trainers seemed to cope on the wet grass.  Within minutes I realised I was loving this race.   As well as grassy sections, there was rocky trail, there was mud and gravel, there was up and down…there were cows!  There were little kissing gates to go through and later on stone walls to climb over! It was a proper trail race and very different from the road races I have done recently. It was also hard work, I could hear heavy breathing all around me.

At around 4km there was a lovely out and back section which was fairly flat and you got to see runners coming in the other direction.  At this point I was also being passed by the speedy the HM runners.  Even though there was often little space to pass especially of the down hill rocky bits, everyone was really patient and very encouraging.  I saw two of the guys that I had spoken to at the the start and they gave me a pat on the back as they passed.  It was so friendly.

Occasionally the mist would clear and there were spectacular view of the gorge and countryside for miles.


At 8km we had to climb over a stone wall and then in front of us were the Hell Steps! Apparently 100 of them – I didn’t count – up up up – very steep and hard work at this point in the race.

Hell Steps.

The last 1.5km went though some pretty woodland.  As I came out of the other side and I could see the finish although we still had to run round a field, negotiate a stile and another wall and climb a grassy hill before actually reaching it.


I loved this race – I felt so grateful to be strong enough and fit enough to enjoy the experience.  I would have found this type of thing very hard a few years ago – it would have stressed my breathing too much.  I feel like I’ve come a long way 🙂  I felt like a proper runner – which doesn’t happen often.

It’s getting to be a habit

28 done!


Event 26/27 – Peterborough parkrun and the Dragon Ride


Two events this weekend!

Just before Christmas last year, travelling on a train from Edinburgh to London (a successful trip this time!) I got a call from Ian wanting to know if we were free the first weekend in June 2016.  He wanted to do a bike Time Trial in Peterborough.  Funnily enough my train was just passing through Peterborough as we spoke, so I knew exactly where it was.   It was on the opposite side of the country to the other event I had booked that June weekend.  The Dragon Ride in Wales.

Hmmm… “ok” I said.  Things seem different when they are six months away.  So this past weekend, as we tried to load three bikes and a lot of kit into the car, it wasn’t seeming such a great idea.

Our first drive was from Somerset to Peterborough.  It didn’t start off too well.  There was already a queue on the A303 at the end of our road, and the queues and heavy traffic continued on the M5 until after ninety minutes and only about thirty miles we deiced to ignore our satnav and go rogue.

I won’t bore you with all the details but the six and half hour drive was just about saved by a lovely pub meal in Stow on the Wold in the Cotswolds and Ian gamely playing the Plane Game (usually only played with Zoe and Heidi), which he won 4 – 0 by the end of the weekend 🙂

parkrun barcode

So… as I was in Peterborough anyway I decided a parkrun was in order.  Ian wasn’t riding until just before midday so I had enough time to do my event and then get back and cheer him on.

Wooden seats on my walk to parkrun – handy if I got tired on the way back.

Fortunately I could walk to the park, which was about and mile and half away, as all the surrounding roads were closed for the Time Trial.   The walk was along a very pretty trail, which soon brought me out at Ferry Meadows park.  The start was at a cafe – there were two cafes!!!  A nice lady saw my running gear and asked it I was going to parkrun and pointed me in the right direction.  I mentioned that there weren’t many runners around. “Give it ten minutes” she said.  Ten minutes later 400 people had appeared!

I chatted to another nice lady before the start, hoping she could tell me a bit about about the course.  Unfortunately I chose someone who was visiting from Scotland lol!  We had a chat about other parkruns and headed towards the start line.

It was a lovely two or maybe three lap course – I really couldn’t tell quite where I was at times, but I do remember passing a marshal in a wheel chair at least twice.  There was a pretty lake and the path was fairly flat.   The path was also quite narrow so it seemed very busy.  My time was under 30 minutes which I was pleased about.  I think I could have gone slightly faster but due to volume of people my first km was slower than I would have liked.


A very enjoyable morning.  I was running out of time though, if I wanted to get a quick shower in. So I ran back along the trail to the hotel.  Ian was waiting in the room in his speed suit and pointy hat, TT bike at the ready.  He gave me twenty minutes to have a shower and start resembling a normal person instead of a hot sweaty mess.  My triathlon transition training certainly helps at times like this.  I can get ready very fast 🙂

The TT was great fun and apparently the biggest in the world.  It was a 16 mile course – longer than the usual ones that Ian does.  We met up with Ian’s friend Marco, they got their timing chips and queued for the start.  Usually TT’s are held on some random A road with the start in a layby, but today’s start was a big show off affair with music, man on a mike and a push down a ramp!  Fancy stuff.   Best of all it was on closed roads which Ian loved.

Ian at the start of his TT

Then it was off to Wales for the Dragon ride.  A four hour drive.  I’m going to brush over our night in Swansea as I have nothing nice to say.  Fortunately the ride itself was fantastic.

Me and my domestique

Ian had agreed to be my domestique for the day.  He would carry my spare water bottle, all my food, a pump and a light jacket.  He would also ride just in front of me if I needed sheltering from wind 🙂   We had 95 hilly hot miles in front of us so I was very grateful for his support.  It would also be really nice to ride together, something we rarely do due to him being so bloody fast!

There were 6000 riders doing various distances, from 100km to 300km!  Our’s was called the Medio Fondo and was 153km.  With 2500m of climbing that was far enough.   The start was very well organised.  We had all been given start times so although we had to wait in pens before setting off it wasn’t too long and it was all very jolly.  Loud music, man on a mike…..sounds familiar, no ramp though, just a countdown in French – the organisers are part of the Tour de France group – and the blast of a horn.


We set off at 9.30am and after about 10km or so of dual carriage way and small towns we started heading up into the Brecon Beacons and spectacular views …..of course to get the views you need to climb.  The first climb was around 7km long and a steady gradient of 5% up and up and up.   It was already very hot but I enjoyed it.    Half way up we passed my good friend Sarah who had started a short while before us.  She doesn’t really like climbing but was going well, and keeping a steady pace.  It wasn’t really the place to stop for a chat so we headed on.

A long descent followed, which was wonderful and cooled us down, but before long we were climbing again – similar kind of hill to last one but at the top of this one was an ice cream van 🙂 I couldn’t resist and also fancied a rest.  We had a lovely chat with some locals, enjoyed the view and then carried on.

I deserved this!

The third big climb of the day was Devil’s Elbow – it was a timed closed road climb so I knew it would be tough.  They had all the King of Mountain flags out and drums beating at the top.    You could see it zig zagging up as you approached and I could already see people walking.  1.8km with an average gradient of 10%, the bends were around 16% and with the heat it was hard going.  But I made it!!! Passed quite a few people (not just the ones walking – in case you were wondering).   Ian with his heavy touring bike and little bag on the back sailed up making it look easy.  It wasn’t.

We then headed off along the bottom of the valley to the feed station. There were a couple of feed stations. At the first one, Domestique Ian stopped to get me some more water while I cycled on and he caught me up further down the road.  We had a wobbly moment while we swapped my empty bottle for a full one while on the move – glad no one was filming it lol! The second one we both stopped at.  Great food, lots of pasties and croissants and sandwiches as well as the usual gels and bars.  Very impressive.


Although there were only three signature climbs the whole ride was actually very hilly, many of them kilometres long and it was on one of these other climbs that Ian’s bike which had been making a horrible noise from the beginning started to make a worse noise.  He hadn’t seem too concerned up until then so I didn’t worry about it, but now he was concerned and decided to call the bike shop in Taunton for some advice.   I watched from behind as he cycled along happily chatting away on the phone, at one point putting the phone by his wheel (so bike shop man could hear the noise) AT THE SAME TIME pedalling quickly past some poor guy who was obviously on his last legs, huffing and puffing and sweating up the hill. Oh dear.

After eight hours of cycling we were nearly back at Margam Park and the finish.  I still felt quite strong as we retraced our steps along the dual carriage ways and roundabouts into the park, but when we finally got off our bikes I was shattered.  The heat was very draining, not to mention the hills.  We sat down for a while in some nice deck chairs and had a cold drink and some food.

A great weekend.  Lots of driving, lots of lovely weather, lots of good company.  27 events done!