Sunday 22 February saw the start of the physical challenges with the cycle ride from Drighlington to Welton – Le Tour De Dan! The morning started early so that I could have breakfast and get everything prepared before setting off for the start in Drighlington. After filling up on Weetabix and getting the triplets up it was time to pack the car, put my trusty stead on the roof and hit the road. We were running slightly behind schedule but as it was only myself cycling it wasn’t really going to matter. As we drove towards the start, I was feeling nervous and emotional. The doubts were starting to set in as I hadn’t been as well prepared as I wanted to be. Due to illness I’d only managed a couple of turbo trainer sessions towards the end of the week and had struggled through them. A cold had put the gym training on hold and in the middle of the week I had wondered if I’d be able to make the starting line. The nerves were starting to take hold as we got closer to the start and my emotions started to run wild, what will happen if I don’t make it? How will I be able to cycle for so long when I was struggling with 45 minutes? Will anyone sponsor me if the first challenge fails? What would Dan think if I didn’t finish? All rational thought had gone out of the window and by the time we arrived I wasn’t looking forward to getting on the bike at all.
When we arrived I prepared the bike, put my cycling shoes and helmet on and got ready for the off. It was a cold and murky morning with the temperature of zero degrees, I hoped that the sun would come out and warm things up a bit but I was only going to be able to warm up by getting going. After a couple of photos next to the starting point and a quick post to social media, it was time to get going. I clipped in my pedals, pressed start on my computer and pushed myself onto the saddle. There was a long road ahead so the sooner I could get going the better. As I pedalled out of Drighlington I tried to clear my head of all the noise that I’d built up over the journey to get to the start.
I made my way down from Drighlington towards Leeds city centre where I encountered my first problem as the access road to the A64 was closed so I had a slight detour to get back to where I wanted to be. I was making good time as I headed up the A64 past Killingbeck and towards the A63. I felt pretty good at that point but was looking forward to the first stop at Colton. I’d decided before I set off that I was going have a quick break every hour or so to have a drink and stock up on anything I needed for the next leg.
After Colton I made my way towards Selby on the A63. It was still cold and dreary but once I got moving again I felt fine. I’d completely forgotten about the hill in Garforth that was on the route and I got a bit of a shock when I got to it as even though it isn’t that long it seemed pretty steep and was a struggle to get up. I settled back into a rhythm when I’d recovered from the effort getting up the hill but soon found myself in the middle of a cycle time trial so had people flying past me on time trial bikes. There’s nothing more demoralising than someone showing you how slowly you’re going!
As I headed through Monk Fryston and Hambleton towards Selby I was starting to feel the time in the saddle so was looking forward to the stop at Selby so that I could recharge for a few minutes. As I’d not spent enough time on my bike prior to the event it was starting to take its toll but as I reached Selby I’d made it through 50km and had been on the bike for 2 ½ hours so I’d now passed the half way mark.
After the stop at Selby it took a while to get going again as I was cold and cycling into a strong headwind. I seemed to be putting a lot of effort in to get nowhere as the wind was pushing against me and it made for a particularly unpleasant section. Due to the effort I was putting in, my back had started to ache which meant I was getting uncomfortable in the saddle which made the time drag even more. Even though it seemed like an eternity to get to Howden, I was still making similar time as the previous legs and even though it had started to rain, I didn’t feel too bad considering I’d now been going for over 3 hours.
After refuelling I started on the last leg of the journey which was to take me through Elloughton to Welton and to my final destination. The wind and rain didn’t help matters but I kept pushing the pedals around and all was going well until I got a bit lost going through North Cave. I couldn’t seem to work out where I was going so had to ask for directions. It was a struggle to mask my dismay as the way to go started with the words “cycle uphill for about a mile!” That wasn’t what I wanted to hear after all the pedalling into the wind and then it got worse when I was told it was about 6 miles up and down to Welton. Fortunately just after I’d set off I saw a road sign that gave me another route so off I went.
I hit the wall at about the 4 hour mark on a small hill as I started weaving as I struggled for energy so I had to have a brief refuelling stop to get me going again. I then pushed on through the final kilometres to get through Elloughton and on to Welton. I made it to the finish after just over 4 ½ hours of riding and despite being tired, cold and a bit wet, was relieved to have completed the challenge despite all the issues I’d had in the run up. The route ended up being 90km (55 miles) and there was a definite sense of relief when I saw everyone at the finish. It was nice to come in and see the triplets waiting for me at the finish so that I could have a cuddle as I tried to warm up and recover. The first challenge was complete, there are plenty more to come and lots more training to do but it’s now time for a couple of days of rest!
I did it for Dan!