D-Day 7-Aug-2022, Getting to start point at Debden
John Gwite (one of the elite riders from India) and I started from our hotel at Ilford at 4:40 AM, to get to start point with some time at hand. Ride was smooth, comfortable and now a familiar one on this route (had done recce a few times before zeroing on the path for the D-day). Got there at around 5:30 AM with about 45 minutes in hand. Had a quick bite with some coffee to knock off any sluggishness that might have been still there, despite all the excitement. Got some nice pictures before it all began and lined up at the start line with bated breath. This is what we had been waiting and training for.
Flag off 0615 hrs at Davenant Foundation School, Debden
Flag bearers at the start line made some small talk to perk us up and spoke about the weather (Brits love talking about the weather) and re-affirmed that we are going to have head winds on the start day and hopefully, just hopefully no headwinds while we return back to the Fens. This was a blessing to tackle the headwinds on our way out and be spared when the legs are tired and weary. Also the forecast for the week was sunny and bright. It was as favourable weather as it can get. We just had to ride our hearts out.
Section A – Debden to St. Ives
Distance covered : 101 km; Elevation gain: 691 m;
Start time: 07-Aug-2022 1015 hrs ; Expected time to reach Control Point (CP): 07-Aug-2022 1046 hrs; Actual time to reach CP: 07-Aug-2022 1000 hrs
Ride time: 3 h 45 m; Moving time: 3 h 42 m; Stoppage time: 0 h 03 m;
Stoppage time at CP: 25 m
Had covered some part of this segment in a recce and it was good to pass through those familiar points and then move into in an unfamiliar territory. Did this segment as almost a non-stop ride, there was lot of energy stored up and had some faster riders whizzing past, which just nudged to go that wee bit faster than what I would have ideally liked.
Consequently power and heart rate metrics were going through the roof and I was burning calories much faster than recommended.
But I counselled my mind that it’s okay, right now it’s important to keep a good speed against the headwinds and day is still cool, so cover whatever you can. Re-fuel and shore up the calories at the CP.
It was good to reach St. Ives in good time. All systems were going great guns and just looked forward to ride in a similar manner for the rest of the segments for the day.
Section B – St. Ives to Boston
Distance covered : 91 km; Elevation gain: 75 m;
Start time: 07-Aug-2022 1025 hrs Expected time to reach CP: 07-Aug-2022 1506 hrs; Actual time to reach CP: 07-Aug-2022 1411 hrs
Ride time: 3 h 46 m; Moving time: 3 h 38 m; Stoppage time: 0 h 07 m;
Stoppage time at CP: 47 m
This was the flattest section of the ride and supposed to be a breeze, except when there are no head-winds and the weather forecast was coming true. There were good head-winds on a dead straight and flat route. It was getting hotter as well and there were some rider groups who went cruising drafting behind each other. I tried to catch on them but realized that am not able to keep pace and generating more power and pushing my HR more than what was warranted and eventually let go off them, slowed down and continued at my pace.
Country side was indeed very beautiful and it felt good riding along a water body which is called “The Fens” and is a nightmare for riders due to perpetual headwinds here. There were occasional hunger pangs for which Snickers bars were coming in handy but it was also drying up the palate and water seemed to be a premium commodity since there were no signs of humans for miles and miles. Kept going, thinking that this is the only long segment remaining for the day. Remaining ones are relatively short. Hopes of getting good, delicious and hot food at Boston control was another factor to keep pushing more.
Reached Boston and saw there were a bunch of many fast riders who had already reached there and were either resting to beat the sun or were heading out. Had to remind myself that this is a challenge against myself and not against others so stop bothering who has reached where and how fast or slow they are riding.
Enjoyed a quick meal and caught up with Coach (Rohan Sharma) and Bade Bhaiya (Sanjeev Sharma) at the control. They had started an hour late and had already caught up with me, which explains how strong they were riding. Stayed here a bit longer than planned to let the body re-coup and then moved out. Ripunjoy Gogoi another co-rider of C group and earlier CKB was supposed to ride along but we had not been able to catch up since morning. Was waiting and hoping that he would turn up while I waited, but when he didn’t I started. Time was a very precious commodity and had to be saved.
Section C: Boston to Louth
Distance covered : 52.95 km; Elevation gain: 351 m;
Start time: 07-Aug-2022 1458 hrs Expected time to reach CP: 07-Aug-2022 1750 hrs; Actual time to reach CP: 07-Aug-2022 1725 hrs
Ride time: 2 h 27 m; Moving time: 2 h 23 m; Stoppage time: 0 h 04 m;
Stoppage time at CP: 45 m
Thankfully this was a shorter stretch and a good re-fueling helped in getting the energy reserves shored up. Was having a nagging feeling that am running into a bit of a calorie deficit, thanks to the sections covered in the morning, which kind of got a short boost during this section.
Caught up with Coach and Bade bhaiya again and got a good massage for the bums 😂 courtesy Coach.
He re-affirmed that am doing just fine with my pace and should just continue along the same lines. It boosted the morale, to say the least.
Had met up with John twice since we had started together and every time I was reaching a CP, he was leaving from there, quite expectedly. He would enquire about Ripunjay (co-rider from earlier CKB 1200 and LEL 6:15 AM group) and I would tell him that I saw him at the previous control and he would catch up with me. He was apparently one of the youngest riders in the event, at least from Indian contingent. Young blood, young turk, more energy, so yeah, all good for him to catch up with me, while I trudge along.
Here we met again where he finally caught up and we started together for the next segment.
Section D: Louth to Hessle
Distance covered : 57.78 km; Elevation gain: 461 m;
Start time: 07-Aug-2022 1810 hrs Expected time to reach CP: 07-Aug-2022 2054 hrs; Actual time to reach CP: 07-Aug-2022 2106 hrs
Ride time: 2 h 56 m; Moving time: 2 h 45 m; Stoppage time: 0 h 11 m;
Stoppage time at CP: 1 h 02 m
This was again a short segment and was a drop bag access point for me, and I was keen to get there quickly. Initial thought was to get here, shower and sleep but more optimal thing was to get here, re-fuel, take whatever is needed from drop bag and head to Malton. These conversations between self and mind were going on while we got the first glimpse of Humber bridge (there were enough and more posts around this on LEL’s social media page) and it was good to finally see it in person with dusk just about setting in.
While we navigated and got on the “right” side of the bridge, we also bumped into Danial Webb, organizer of LEL, walking down the bridge apparently to the next control. We stopped for a few moments to say hello and take some pictures and he was kind enough to be there with us in those pictures, making them even more memorable.
This also indicated that we are not too far off from the control and doing good time. Got to Hessle CP about 10 minutes later and quickly went through the drill of card stamping, re-fueling, water refill etc. Additionally pulled out stuff from the drop bag to replenish whatever was consumed and might be needed till I get to next bag access at Brampton.
Section E: Hessle to Malton
Distance covered : 67.22 km; Elevation gain: 735 m;
Start time: 07-Aug-2022 2209 hrs Expected time to reach CP: 08-Aug-2022 0052 hrs; Actual time to reach CP: 08-Aug-2022 0215hrs
Ride time: 4 h 05 m; Moving time: 3 h 39 m; Stoppage time: 0 h 26 m;
Stoppage time at CP: 2 h 23 m
Sleep time at CP: 3 h 30 m
It was now dark and slightly cold and expected to get cooler by the hour. Got the bike ready to ride in the dark and self to ride in the cold. Ripunjay and I then set off together to ride up to Malton.
All was going well, till I made an erroneous judgement and had a fall. White lines marked on the edge of the road to denoting to not to go further left, were not there on the road and instead were on the pavement, indicating to not to go further right. My mind didn’t process this till I goofed up while taking a left turn and in a split second found myself on the pavement with left leg under the bike, scraped against the pavement. Got up, checked the bike, it seemed alright, except that the drive train had come off the chain ring. Checked my leg, few cuts, some blood but nothing major.
Ripunjay helped in getting the chain back on the ring and we set off again. Felt some discomfort in the left leg, thigh, arm, shoulder etc. essentially whatever body part took the impact of the fall, there was some botheration. There wasn’t much to rue over this hence kept pedaling on and finally reached Malton, slightly (er much) later than what I had planned.
Decided that we would eat well and take a good rest before commencing tomorrow’s ride. Volunteers at the CP were very helpful and wanted to assist with the first aid, but somehow I wasn’t ready to let that those wounds be cleaned with anything that would burn / sting, so declined the offer. I just wanted to get some rest / sleep and tackle this tomorrow. Since I didn’t had a change of clothes here, went off to sleep in the existing kit and desisted the temptation of taking a shower and then again wear the sweaty kit. Bleh!
This brought an end to a slightly eventful, grueling but a productive Day 1. If weather forecasts were to be believed, worst of headwinds were behind us, literally rest should be relatively more manageable.
Day 1 Stats
Distance Covered: 370 km Elevation gain: 2313 m
Ride time: 17 h; Moving time: 16 h 08 m; Stoppage time: 0 h 52 m;
Stoppage time at CPs: 5 h 23 m; Avg stoppage time at CPs: 1 h 05m; Sleep time: 3 h 30 m
In hindsight, average stoppage time at CPs was a problem, but it was perhaps getting subdued due to minimal stoppage during the rides from one CP to another. Overall I was slightly behind the expected plan and was perhaps tracking to lower plan but the up side was that I was able to maintain good average speed during in between controls giving a chance to stay with the original plan.
This was not completely known / clear during the ride on Day 1 but had a vague sense of it, since I wasn’t stopping much and that was known clearly.
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