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Deloitte RAB 2012 - An Adventure? Day 1

What have I done? That was a long hard day in the saddle and there are 8 more to go...

530am wakeup call ‘I want to ride my bicycle’ blaring from the speakers, ha, yeah, funny.  After a massive bowl of porridge for breakfast (there are full cooked options if you can stomach it that early), I dressed in various layers of cycling kit to cover all British weather options and obviously there are many, packed up and handed my bag to the chirpy (yes really, everyday) luggage guys.  Feeling slightly nauseous, I washed out and filled my water bottles with water and electrolytes, stacked my bike with energy bars (natural in my case and some even home baked by a friend!) and bananas (I’m not a gel girl) and arrive at the start line, ready to go with a few friends at 7am.  No bones about it, I am suddenly absolutely terrified - and I think you can see that in my picture!

Although it’s dry and the sun seems to be shining, its flipping cold and an eerie mist descends as we start.  Not long in and those Cornish hills are raising their ugly brows, I lose the friends I’m supposed to be riding with; I am just that little bit too slow on the climbs and I end up riding the entire middle section of the day on my own, not good.  Tired and disheartened I roll into pit stop 2 at the mid 70 mile mark for the requisite bananas and dairy milk unsure that that’s enough to get me through to the end of this day, let alone the ninth.  I spy a guy who seemed to be riding roughly at the same pace as me for the last few miles and rather desperately beg to join him.  Luckily, he’s glad of the company too and we leave the pit stop feeling more positive and get stuck in to the last 30 something miles.  Psychologically, riding with someone makes a huge difference and the impact of psychological highs and lows are no small matter on this trip especially when you seem to be struggling on day 1 of 9.  The hills go on and on and just when we think we can’t possibly do anymore, one of the ever present medibike guys rides past (on his wonderfully comfortable looking motorbike) and announces its only 4 more miles.  Allelujah!  Okehampton appears and soon signs to Okehampton college bring almost as much relief as the sight of the RAB flags themselves and we arrive exhausted at about 630pm at our longed for camp. 

Some of the riders have been there since 2pm and have made use of the very comfortable looking ‘chill out zone’, reading the newspapers etc but due to our aforementioned ‘velocity issues’, unfortunately, casually rocking in about 6/630 doesn’t give us time for too much relaxing.  We sign in, receive our tent number (they are already pitched in immaculate rows) and set about sorting out our bed for the night and kit for the next morning before it gets dark.  The ‘Posh Wash’ porta-showers are wonderfully hot and thankfully there are no queues at this time of the evening (one of the few bonuses of getting in late).  A quick rinse out of a f ew bits of kit and I hang it in the purpose assembled hot drying room/tent ready to hopefully be dry for tomorrow.  Charging stations are also set up so we can charge our all important phones and for the more serious among us Garmin GPS etc.   Off to supper and tonight’s briefing which includes entertainment from some of the Bath rugby boys Lewis Moody and Danny Grewcock who will be riding with us tomorrow.  Well, I say us, I’m sure they’ll hurtle past me at some point.  Lewis has admitted to a brilliant lack of training, a purchase of a brand new bike and a decision that tomorrow would be the perfect time to wear cleats for the first time......that might give us something to smile about on what Andy Cook promises will be another tough and ‘grippy’ day in the saddle.  There are 30 of Andy Cook’s chaperones on this ride, twice as many as they had last year.  I’m determined to get into a group with one or more of them tomorrow.  Having lost my initial companions, I have decided that finding a group at the right pace will be vital to my ability to get through this and maybe even start to enjoy it.....

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