Updated: Apr 12, 2020
So a few weeks have passed, the saddle sores are almost healed, the fingers and toes only tingle a bit, and normal life has, apparently, resumed.
So with a bit of time to sit back (not on a saddle) and think, here's my reflections on my first ever ultra/ adventure / whatever you want to call it cycle race.
Firstly I am massively proud of what I achieved. I raced from Biarritz, on the Atlantic coast, to Cap de Crues, on the Med, and back again to Biarritz, so west coast, east coast, back to the west coast, in 7 days and 11 hours.
That put me outside of General Contention, or GC, which was awarded to those doing it in under 7 days. But I did it! In the context of a race where, out of the 107 riders who started, only 66 finished (and only 46 of them within GC), with the rest scratching on route. I dont say that with any judgement on them, but just because I think it illustrates that you could in no way take it for granted that you would get to the end.
Indeed, almost everyone I spoke to (including some very experienced ultra racers) said it was one of the hardest races they'd done, with everyone saying it was far harder than its big brother the TCR. Whilst both races had about the same amount of climbing, for the TPR you only had one week, rather than three to get it done in. So to be within GC, that meant about 5000m, averaged over 240km each day. That's quite a lot of climbing!
Before I went I said that I wanted to share my experiences to hopefully help other women (and men) gain confidence and give this sort of thing a go. A lot of the things I read before I went focused on the techy side of things, or were specific to that race. As a first time rider/racer, I was more concerned with getting a flavour of what it would 'feel' like to race day after day, to help me decide whether I thought I could do it. So I've tried to include the things I wanted to know more about before I went.
Learnings / what I think I could have improved on (this is a long one! But hopefully pretty useful if you’re thinking about this sort of thing