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Beechwood Cancer Care Ride, July 2013

Steve Payne

Way back on Sunday 7th July, I finally got to do the long version of the Cheshire Cat bike ride. Afterwards, I was so busy I didn't complete the write-up and then I decided to wait to see how much the total came to with matched funding, so now that all that has been sorted – here we go.

My preparations for the ride had been going really well this year.

  • A few pounds were lost, making going up hills that bit easier I'd completed the Macc Monster – a 65 mile ride 'tootling' around the Peak District
  • Once I'd recovered from that ride, I found my legs had an invincibility I've never had before
  • Then 10 days before the Cheshire Cat, my right hamstring got quite sore just from doing a fast ride home from work. So, the next day I got myself checked out by a physio and a few days later I started feeling better.

Although I wasn't sure how 100 miles would affect the hamstring. The next weekend my daughters took me safely round the Great Manchester Closed road ride. Really enjoyed the quiet roads with lots of families happily spinning along the Mancunian Way on a sunny day. All set then? Well 3 days before – what's that? Atickly throat and it's the first cold I've had all year (I have to recommend the old flu jab here). So a niggle about my knee and a cold were the extra challenges that made the ride worthy of your sponsorship and the test that was to be the hardest physical challenge of my life.

The big day came round and the weather was predicted like Majorca - 27C! It was so much better than the snow on the original date back in March.

There was a group of 5 of us doing the ride and 3 were new friends that I made on the day. We all agreed to try and stick together so, if we split up, we would regroup at the feed-stations. We could have gone off fast but decided that having energy at the end of the ride had to be the safe option as there was the small matter of climbing Mow Cop after 15 miles. It's around a mile in length with one short, sharp bit at the start - 15% steepness - leveling out - well sort of - still an 11% ramp before the final 100 metres topping out at 25%. So it was nice and steady up this one, so steady that the other guys went off ahead of me up the hill. I was even doing a little slaloming across the road to make the hill not quite so steep, however a runner (!) had the temerity to pass me. Oh well, there was plenty of other riders who had to get off and walk and I had managed to make it all the way up the steep bit keeping my feet on the bike. And, you get a nice shiny medal for doing this!

Right at the top of the hill, and sure enough the guys were patiently waiting for me. Great buddies when you consider how doing 103 miles on your own would be so tough mentally. Further hills were climbed to Rudyard Lake and the first feed-station. Plenty of bananas and Soreen were wolfed down and water bottles were topped up.

Next up was Gun Hill and down to Wincle for the final serious climb. Yes! We'd covered 40 miles and it was downhill to the Cheshire Plain now. About 30 riders formed into a proper peloton and we whizzed down through Bosley 'drafting along' so easily to the next feed station at Brereton near Holmes Chapel (55 miles). There the Wiggle mechanic put some lube on my squeaky chain and after 10 mins hiding in the shade from the sun, we shot off again.

After a further 10 miles the old saddle started to let me know that the friction was taking effect – ouch! It was time to start conserving energy and for some will-power to kick in. Beeston Castle was ridden around and onto Cholmondley Castle. It my first time around this area really and made me appreciate what a beautiful part of Cheshire we were riding around.

One of the group cut off to do the shorter 75 mile ride option and the fastest guy in our group had whizzed off ahead. So we were down to a group of 3- Rob, Paul and me. The final feed-station and the heat meant I just poured a load of water straight over my head. The heat was getting to us all, although the breeze from riding did help a lot.

We were on the home straight now and my chain coming off was quite a good result given the number of people who had suffered punctures etc. I was so relieved and glad to see the finish line after 7¼ hours of riding. So, I was back at Crewe's football ground and it was time to have a free massage while at the same time on the telly Andy Murray was winning Wimbledon!

I was really proud of completing the ride and that all your generous sponsorship of approximately £400 which, when the tax had been added back on and Barclays £4 Matching had been applied, meant the total raised came to a whopping £913.75. This money has now been received by Beechwood Cancer Care, who were really grateful.

Thank you everyone! Steve