Early start, up at 5am and on the road by about 5:30am. Arrived at Brands Hatch dead on 7am for opening
Met up with a couple of the RG Active Race Team and registered.
Several of the team had switched from the long (71 mile) to the short (41 mile) course, and although I had not been on my bike really since before Christmas, I stuck with going long.
After some bike fettling and clothing choices, it was about 8°C, drizzling with a 22mph headwind for the out section of the course, we mounted up and headed for the start.
27 RG Active Race Team members towed the start, and as we all slid down the hill in start pen some banter was being thrown about.
Even though I was trying to be conservative with my efforts, I still ended up in the second group of about 4 riders, which then got split even more by some narrow roads, a horse and an obstinate BMW driver.
A short sharp hill or two then strung out my group and I rode with Claire for 10m or so until the split of the short and long courses.
At this point I was feeling fine and carried on at a reasonable pace until about 4 miles before the first feed stop at Groombridge, when the solo efforts into a strong headwind were staring to wear me down.
Caught up with Martin, Goran and a couple of others at the feed stop, got a hot drink and some pizza.
The faster guys headed out and I stuck around a couple of minutes before heading out with Richard.
Almost immediately on starting riding again my calfs started to cramp, but not bad enough to cause any issues and getting them moving freed them up after a few miles.
As longer hills and sidewinds took their toll Richard took the lead and started to drop me. I settled in for the long slog to the second feed station.
Having reached the high point on the course and passing the chip timing van, a long descent gave some small respite. As I started the next climb section however my quads cramped, hard, I had to stop and rest to get movement back. A mile or so later the same happened again.
This was pretty much the pattern until the second feed station. Cycle 10mins, quads cramp, rest 3-4 mins, continue.
At one point on a steeper climb, both legs locked at the same time with such ferocity that I couldn’t even unclip and had to choose to fall onto the verge. No damage but a few bemused queries from fellow riders as I lay in the grass, clipped to my bike gurning, muttering “I’m fine, cramp”
By the time I got to the second feed station, the cold and wet had set in and I was starting to shiver, as although I had the energy to push, my muscles cramped whenever I did.
Once inside the feed station I caved and rang Des, who luckily was around and able to come pick me up and drop me back at Brands Hatch.