During the first few miles, I noted how common it is to see a few riders stopping to make some adjustments. I've done it. You set off, all is well. After the first bump, something begins to rattle. Stop and have a look, because you don't want to put up with that rattle full stop, let alone for the next 399km.
But as I was approaching one of these riders I realised it wasn't a rider, but a car bonnet sticking out of a drive. What! Hallucinations, already? That is not possible, that was just a mistake, right? Only a few miles later, I saw a white horse, which wasn't a white horse. Then I did see a white horse, which was white horse. I saw loads of white horses on this ride. I saw more white horse, or horses that are predominantly white than any other horses. Then I saw a white pet rabbit by the road. I did! I'm hoping other riders might have seen it, to prove it was real. Just can't remember where that was, somewhere residential. I quite enjoyed that 'Alice in Wonderland moment' which wasn't an 'Alice in Wonderland moment'.
So I hope you can now understand my slightly obscure tweet "Promises to be quite a hallu-fest tonight". If I was already seeing things in the morning, what was the night section going to be like?
In fact, it was quite the opposite. Had no hallucinations whatsoever during the night. And as I had been dreading the night section, the best hour or so of the whole ride was during the night. Not only that, but that best hour was when it was raining!! Can you believe that?! After the Bryan Chapman and LEL 2009, the only thing we wish for, is a ride without rain. Then it rains, and I begin to enjoy myself. Do you think I've lost the plot?
I was tired. I was tired the whole way round. I finally gave in, and had a sleep on the bench by Somerset Monument: Clicky. And that was just wonderful! I had togged up (think it was about 8PM), so wasn't cooling down. The atmosphere was still that of a late sunny afternoon with lovely wildlife noises going on. Bliss! Occasionally, I could hear riders coming up from the steep hill.
Shortly after that I hooked up with Ray from Willesden Cycling Club and we rode together till the end. At Membury Services, all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn't care about anything else anymore. I asked Ray how long we would stop for. When he said "not too long", I begged him for a 10 minute kip. I hadn't caught on to Ray's sense of humour yet then, but he said "Lets push the boat out and have 20 minutes". We ended up staying for about an hour and formed a groupette with AJB and Rob. I felt refreshed, it started to rain, and my spirits lifted for the first time. Ray noticed it too, that we were all bit perkier for it, as if the rain cleaned the air. Rob had a puncture at some stage. The effect of my head torch on AJB's ankle bands was entertaining me while we waited.
Ray was excellent company. Putting me to shame with his knowledge of Belgian rides and events. We exchanged tragic stories of Monsere and Galvez (as one does!). It was interesting to hear about his involvement in British Cycling.
- It didn't warm up until about 10:30 on Saturday morning. Hands and feet got quite cold.
- But it didn't get as cold on the Sunday morning, thankfully.
- The balloon rising over Great Missenden.
- Excellent organisation by Chris Beynon.
- Rob and I thinking we knew each other and lunched together. He worked out that he knows me from my blog/images. I haven't worked out yet where I know him from other than that he reminds me of Bill Turnbull. Sorry Rob!
- Strangely enough, having no problems climbing Yat Rock which is 20%. How steep is Smalldean Lane?
- Recognising familiar territory around Goodrich from LEJOG 2005.
- Lovely Cotswolds countryside, especially around Lower Swell.
- Headwind Tewkesbury to Chepstow.
- Climbing up Berryhill and a guy asking 'Is this Berryhill?' This was just after two kids shouted at me: "We found a double dandelion!" Or have I really lost the plot?
- Couldn't be bothered to get the 'No mobile phones on the forecourt' effect in Chepstow Tesco.
- Having a kip in the hall afterwards.
- Many tweets of encouragement: thank you to all. It makes a difference.
- I might come back to this post and fill a few gaps. I will have plenty of time to think today as I'm off to the sleep clinic!
And finally, this morning, I was bemused to see my camera can take pictures of hallucinations.
Ceci n'est pas un cheval!
On the climb to Somerset Monument.