I’m still struggling to process this one a bit. I’m stuck between evaluating it as a race and a ride. I fell in love with the idea of the event as soon as I heard about it because I love the North of England and because I love hills. But I feel like I missed a lot of it because it was either dark or I was on busy roads being buzzed by HGVs. That’s completely my responsibility, I planned my own route, and there was a lot of times I looked at 2 different routes, and chose the faster over the more beautiful route. It’s not billed as a race, but if you want to finish in time to make the finishers meal then you’ve got to go pretty damned hard (the guy who won rode pretty much nonstop for 2 days).
Of those who started at 8pm (there was a Rookie category who started at midday, and a pairs category) I was the 20th finisher and 3rd lady. Only 26 of the 8pm group finished, with a third of riders scratching before the end. So it was definitely hard and I’m proud of what I achieved. But I’m not sure if I am motivated to try and go faster, if anything I'd like to do it again with more time to take it in.
But if I was to try and go faster, what would I change? I think my training was spot on, other than when trying to cycle up Honister, I never felt my physical fitness was the issue. To be faster I need to stop less (especially not stopping to take photos on a phone that blows up and I lose them all anyway!), reduce the faff time (I'm pretty horrified by the difference between ride time and total time, but that includes looking for answers at check points, queuing in shops, eating, power naps, and dealing with the mystery squeak), not have a mystery wobble and squeak on my bike, and probably be better at not sleeping.
(my route compared with a heat map of the routes taken by all riders)
I was really happy with my route other than the one off-road slip up and the random Sheffield tour. In terms of bike set up I’d made a late change to a GRX 46/30 chainset and a 11/40 on the back which was 100% worth it (thanks Hector!). I’d swapped my 38mm tyres for 32s and whilst probably faster, my bum was less happy about the choice, so not sure if that was a good choice. I used aero bars, partly just for more space to mount lights etc, but they came into their own, not only on the last day when 'bombing' it along on the flat, but also as another position to go to and rest my hands. The only thing I would change is the bloody wobble! (which I've still not diagnosed, suggestions welcome!)
I was really happy with all my kit, using almost everything I took (ironically the only things I didn’t use was most of the toolkit, and the only things I was missing was the brake pads and adjustable spanner) and the weather was waaaay hotter than expected so I didn’t need the winter gloves but they made a nice pillow.
I think I was in the minority not bivvying but I’m happy with my choice, although I was only in the rooms for a few hours they were quite cheap and the chance to shower, wash clothes and charge my stuff was more than worth it for me.
Anyway, that's it for now, time to try and work out how to get my phone and bike working again. Or maybe another nap first...