What a ride! Many many thanks to Mark and Louise and all the other helpers who all did so much to make this the epic ride that it is!
I should say now, I am a crap photographer especially when on the back of a tandem and wearing long fingered gloves, so I appologise for the quality of my pictures!
Bulwark Community Centre, 6am start
So far its overcast and pretty cold, but we are simply overjoyed it is not wet!
Did I mention how crap my photography skills are?
Bronllys Control 72km. I had fried egg on toast, just what I needed and the service was very fast, in and out in 22 minutes.
Nant Yr Arian control at 154km. At this stage the sun is trying to shine. I thought we were supposed to be in Wales!
Waiting at one of the sections of roadworks. These proved not to be a huge problem as the lights were all good at detecting cyclists and would turn to green as you got there if nothing was coming the other way.
Lots and lots of sheep. Great scenery to look at, and on the back I can really soak in the views! We managed the first 200km in 9 hours, so far so good.
Crossing the Barmouth Bridge at about 240km
The mountains are coming! The lakes here remind me of Scottish Lochs.
Starting the climb of Pen-Y-Pass
Getting overtaken. We were expecting this to happen twiddling up there on a lowish gear.
Finally at the summit, and the setting sun looks alsolutely splendid. An impromptu gathering eats and puts on some warmer clothes for the descent. We have managed the first 300km in 15 hours which I am more than pleased with.
Arriving at Menai (313km) just as it's getting dark.
The scouts hut control. Considering how last minute sorting this control had ended up being it was a splendid facility, lovely and warm and Louise as cheerful as ever serving much appreciated hot soup and rice pudding with fruit.
At this stage I put the camera away in the pannier since it was dark. The stage back to Kings seemed to take ages as always when you're riding towards your bed I tend to find. Tiredness was definitely affecting my power output and Simon was finding things a bit of a strain because of it. But it wasn't long after 2am when we made it. After some food I collapsed into a wonderfully comfortable bunk bed (with a duvet!!) for a lovely 4 hours sleep. This was more sleep than I could ever have dreamed of having on this ride.
I was woken at 7am as promised and we had breakfast then set out into the second day. Immediately as we left I was having an accute stabbing pain in my right knee. I have had a few problems with it this season with just a low grade nagging kind of pain, but this was on another level altogether. We soon stopped and I took some Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) and hoped that as we got warmed up things would improve. The first climb certainly warmed me but did nothing for my knee. I limped into Aberhafesp at 461k wondering how on the earth I was going to finish the ride.
By the time we got to Woebley ay 540km the sun was shining and we joined a pack of tired hungry Audaxers feeding on junk food from the village shop and lounging around on the little green. It all felt much too relaxed for the second day of a 600!
The last section proved to be a bit of a trial for me. My attempt at peeing in a hedge with a Sheewee was not entirely sucessful and resulted in me changing into my other shorts whilst hoping a car or rider wouldn't come round the corner! We had to make several stops to stretch my knee and try and relieve the pain. I maxed out my Vitamin I dose and rubbed some of Simon's Ibuprofen gel into the knee too for good measure. We stopped at a very nice pub for a coffee outside in the sun. I said to Simon that despite only having about 50km to go, if I had been riding on a solo I didn't think with my knee in that state I would have been able to finish. I was by now riding pretty much just with one leg. Llancloudy was not very enjoyable. I swore, lots. The last time I went through pain like this I was offered gas and air in a hospital and there was a baby at the end of it!
Another knee stretch stop passing Tintern resulted in another photo oportunity!
We finally rolled into Chepstow a few minutes after 39 hours, about an hour later than we had really been planning to finish. I couldn't be more pleased we got round it in time and had 4 hours sleep to boot.
Thanks again to Mark, Louise and all the helpers. This is a ride to remember for a long time to come, and mostly for good reasons!!