On the 19th June 700 riders took part in Chase the Sun, leaving Minster on the Isle of Sheppey at 04:39 (approx) Sunrise to cycle 330km across the country to Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset with the aim of finishing before sunset at 21:33. This isn’t a race but a journey.
I first signed up for Chase the Sun in 2019 but pulled out as I felt nervous cycling that far on my own. Of course as soon as the event started I regretted my decision so signed up for 2020 which sadly due to the pandemic had to be cancelled along with every other race in the country. Roll on 2021, I was more confident with my cycling so signed up, again on my own, this time knowing that should anything go wrong I should be able to deal with it!
Lots more food was added!
With only 17 hours to complete the journey and me not being a particularly fast cyclist my plan was to have as few stops as possible and any stops I did have were kept to an absolute minimum. Eating is always an issue for me so during my long training rides I practiced eating and drinking carrying food in a “food pouch” attached to the front of my bike. This worked well enabling me to eat as I rode. I also had a carbohydrate drink in one of my bottles, although I’m on the search for one that has a nicer taste.
In case my plan didn’t quite go as expected I also carried a light for the hours of darkness. My bike had been checked over, new tyres fitted so I headed off to the start feeling happy. My friend Paul German who I’d cycled with during RAB (Ride Across Britain) in 2018 signed up at the last minute so we cycled together – bonus.
My route was downloaded onto my Wahoo ROAM and on Komoot as backup should the navigation fail, together with headphones so I could listen to the instructions through one ear as I cycled.
THINGS THAT DIDN’T GO TO PLAN
Having had my bike checked I was somewhat annoyed to find right from the getgo that my chain slipped in the middle gearing on both the big and small cog. Extremely frustrating as I couldn’t get into a nice rhythm. I’d planned to make my first stop at Cadence Cycles at around 78km but this was only supposed to be for 10 minutes. I took the bike in to be sorted which they did quickly but the 10 minute stop turned into 30 minutes, not happy. It was the right decision to spend time getting it sorted as the 2nd half of the journey going through the mendips was extremely hilly and I would have lost even more time and at points probably would have had to walk up some of the hills!
The 2nd thing to go wrong was funnily enough my navigation system which to be honest I wasn’t expecting. Everything froze about 10km from Cheddar Gorge but thankfully at that point I knew where I was heading and I hoped it might “unfreeze” by the time I had descended the gorge (pretty scary in the rain). Sadly no such luck so at the bottom I stopped to swop over to my komoot/earphone option but Paul and I decided that as we only had 21km to go we needed to follow the cyclists in front of us. Easy for Paul not quite so easy for me but I peddled like mad and managed just to hang onto their back wheels (occasionally loosing them on a steep hill) arriving at the finish with just over an hour to spare before sunset – I was very happy.
THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
I was happy with my eating/drinking. The stops I’d planned worked well. I did keep an eye on the time at each stop as it’s very easy to say you will stop for 10 minutes and leave 20 minutes later!
Paul and I cycled well together, I was navigating as Paul’s Garmin recorded the ride but didn’t show the map. My training had gone well thanks to WhittleFit Coaching and although I’m not the fastest cyclist out there I was able to keep up a decent pace at the end. My right leg that had been causing me issues for a few weeks held up, thank goodness!
I had the right kit for the trip, the only thing I didn’t use were my knee warmers but happy that I took them and my bike setup worked well.
Thank you to the organisers for putting on such a great event, lovely meeting so fellow cyclists and hear their stories, wonderful to have lots of support along the route. To the marvellous guy in the Cadence cycles who bought me a coffee as I only had cash and they took cards – life saver and the WI at the half way point who provided the most delicious sandwiches and coffee. Finally a big thanks to Paul who was great company. He’s doing RAB again this year on a BMX bike – mad!
I beat the sun!