Tour de Sands
Rutland E2E leg. June 3rd 2017.
On a bitterly hot Saturday, sixteen intrepid, honed athletes congregated at the Whitwell car park to undertake a marathon bike ride of Himalayan proportions. We’d all come prepared and backed up by medical staff (I brought some plasters), nutritionists (tin of pilchards, bag of crisps and coke between us….nearly true!) and a team of highly paid fettlers (actually someone on the ride said they had a spanner!).
Base camp Whitwell
The crew, Louise and myself (Nora and Compo), Katie and Johnny (who cycled to and from Rutland and did the circuit as well… they have got electric bikes though!), Bev and Mike (lycra twins), Rosie and Peter (very posh lycra ), Caroline and David (northern lycra….trackies), Shaun and Rachel (very loud lycra), Geoff and Delia (just glad they wore something) and John and Sam…not sure who they were but we had a great time stopping in all the pubs waiting for them to catch up!
Well earned break after 4 minutes hard toil cycling
Well, 240 miles may not seem a lot to some people but it’s a jolly long way in the heat, humidity, local natives throwing ice creams at you, knowing the fearsome Rutland Rainbow Pirhana is feet away from the track, and running the risk of being attacked by giant man eating Ospreys, but we got underway and took the anti clockwise route. We actually chose this way because it is allegedly easier and I get nosebleeds and vertigo if I travel too quickly clockwise.
We made out first stop at Old Hall after approximately 4 minutes, as Sam had just discovered her bike had more than three gears. Shaun and Mike (Sturmey and Archer) bravely fought the tsunami to get back to Sam and saved the day. Meanwhile husband John, as ever, kept the beer warm in the pub.
Approaching the summit at K2…sorry, Hambleton village.
We moved on to the Hambleton peninsula and searched desperately for a bakery to top up provisions, but to no avail, so my last tin of pilchards was divvied up between all of us. Luckily we found our fourth pub just round the corner which we all cycled past due to the absence of Stoneyford ales behind the bar. Hold on, maybe it was because the beer was Stoneyford…can’t remember now?
As we climbed to the Manton plateau (7000m) one the intrepid suggested a stop at the Lyndon pass. Lo and behold that eminent ornithologist Bill Oddbloke suspiciously appeared out of the nearby bushes and gave us an update of how many victims the giant man eating Ospreys had consumed this year. None. Very interesting.
Waving at the audience after a bloody awful rendition of Armadillo
The final leg saw us stop briefly at Normanton church where we all shed a tear
as Geoff and Delia got married there sixty years ago. A rousing chorus of EOTHs signature tune, Armadillo ensued which emptied the park in seconds. After Jeff and Sam did a detour of Normanton (seemed like we cycled to the South Yorks town of the same name!) we traversed the notorious Dam, scene of that well known bouncing bomb film starring Burt Lancaster. The last mile saw us speeding through hoards of cheering onlookers excitedly throwing waffles at us. Actually there might have been a triathlon event going on. During the journey we kept telling Rosie there was five miles left, which we had been telling her since the start of the ride. Rosie is still going round and round the lake apparently
In the evening we ended up at the Bluebell where we were joined by the Emma and Ali, Dawn and Ian and Louise and Simon for a fine lasagne that had been on the Hog spit for several hours. Emma told us stories of daring do’s on her French section of the tour and that she found the 250 miles a day so easy. The miles went up as the evening wore on.
Sadly Cinzia and Daniel couldn’t make the bike ride as Alex had sent them out hunting Wild Boar for the Molls girls birthday bash the same evening. However Alex and Cinzia very kindly supplied the food gratis and asked us all to donate the cost of the meal to the Tour de Sands….probably about three shillings and sixpence in old money, so I’m told. Lovely gesture.
Seriously though, the ride was undertaken in the fantastic spirit that has been prevalent throughout the whole of the Tour de Sands project and great respect goes to Jerry and all his team for instigating and organising this in memory of Sandra.
May it all continue, although hopefully the next event will leave my bum cheeks in a better condition!