by Kirstie Forcey
This was my first big event in the MTB cycling world. After a recent accident and ongoing health problems this was going to be a challenge. Matt Baker had offered to drive us to the start line and we set off at 6 AM; it was his birthday and he never even mentioned it! A great example of the kind of people that make up the Cycle Seahaven family, without who I could never have completed this challenge.
The day started out early and chilly, with an autumnal feel in the air! We layered up and set off on our adventure for the day. Knowing the bad weather was going to hit us by lunchtime we pushed hard to cover as much ground as we possibly could before the rain. The route was well mapped out and marshalled and the stops were just right for me, although I only stopped twice because by the third stop I felt I couldn’t allow my body to cool down or I’d struggle to restart.
The other riders were friendly and supportive with lots of banter so it felt like one big team effort. There was a mix of different riders, from people who obviously just turned up to give it a go and others who had been training for months. Regardless, everyone was there and giving it their best and that was fantastic to be a part of.
Once underway I was surprised by the amount of people that had broken down! Checking your bike before an event like this is essential. Thankfully I managed the whole ride without any mechanicals, it definitely pays off to take care of your bike.
One of the difficult things for me was getting stuck behind people on hills, especially when I needed the momentum to get up but at least I managed to resist shouting “pedal, pedal, pedal!” at them.
The rain hit just before lunch and that’s when the chaos began. The mud slides and chalk paths were like nothing I have ever seen before, but we all enjoyed the slip slide and slosh. Obviously, Marmaduke (my faithful Marin mountain bike) is a mud magnet so I found it hard to stop him ploughing through the muddy, boggy puddles and plastering my fellow riders. Sorry guys.
My best part of the day was towards the finish when we approached Truleigh Hill. From the very bottom people were pushing their bikes up the slippery chalky climb. I was determined to ride to the top and so dug deep. I had a nasty slip on my way up and fell off but pushed through and got back on. The cheers from those pushing help me make it to the top.
When I finally reached the top, the relief kicked in as a new it was pretty much over! However, I have underestimated the downhill descent from Truleigh that was 2 miles of deep mud. Loads of people were crashing and it was carnage particularly as a soft landing involved getting splattered in mud. A very enjoyable slide to the road!
Then we whizzed down to the seafront head on to the wind, this is when I realised how frozen I was. We pushed on with everything we had to get to the finish line where I could have quite happily found a quiet corner to collapse in. Thank you to Ellie for the foil blanket and 1/2 a cup of tea (the rest shaken out of the cup… brrr).
I have never been so wet and cold in my life but can’t wait to do it again next year, a wonderful community of people and for such a great cause. Thank you so much for those of you that have supported me leading up to the ride and a million kudos for Guy, Paul and Jim for staying by my side and getting me to the finish.