It was always going to be a difficult task, going to bed at 20:30 on a Friday to wake at 03:00 for my 04:00 rendezvous. It was either the excitement of meeting a total stranger in a dark lane whilst the world slept, the thought of the full days cycle ahead or more likely the enforced shift in sleep pattern that had me awake at 22:30, clock watching. Midnight was the last I saw before the multiple alarms.
I managed to snooze all three alarms, multiple times and turfed myself out of bed at around 03:20, I had pre-empted this, so had everything set, porridge prepared, bread in the toaster, coffee beans ground and chafe cream on chamois, this gave me 30 minutes before I had to leave to meet Simon a mile from home. Simon text me around 03:30 to say he was running 5 minutes late, I wasn’t convinced it was just to make sure I was out of bed.
Having shovelled porridge, loads of fruit, nuts, toast, orange juice and a couple of cups of coffee down my neck, I rolled down the hill, I was early, hung around until I was passed by a slowing police car, I figured I’d look less dodgy cycling, so met Simon upstream.
It was apparent on meeting Simon that I was entering something special with some special people, his list of previous event was intimidating, including London Edinburgh London & Paris Brest Paris on a fixed gear!
We arrived at Bulwark Community Centre in good time, I collected my Brevet card along with a coffee and toasted teacake. Simon introduced me to some fellow Bristolians. Cool kids, Tom and Gee were also at the start, Gee notably had previously only ridden around half the distance in one ride.
Setting off at 06:00, the first few metres of the 400’000 were done. Endurance specialist Mike Hall took the lead, I managed to hold his wheel up to St Arvans , but it took TT effort, this was going to be a long day, I eased off letting a bunch overtake me whilst gaining composure and focusing on finishing. I settled down with 3 other guys, we climbed the Brecon Beacons along Escley Brook, the views West towards Gospel Pass were spectacular, however, I was busy burying myself trying to keep up with one guy, hence no photos. Over the top and down the other side, scoring a Strava KoM on the way, we stopped at the first control. I had a cheese and ham toasty for my third breakfast, it was 09:30 and I had already covered 75miles.
The next section to Llandovery I rode pretty much solo, there was the odd leap frogging of familiar faces as we stopped at various points, the time passed swiftly and stopping at the West End Cafe for my fourth breakfast, this time a full English.
Tregaron was the next stop, at a pub, the sun was out and it was tempting to go for a shandy, but an orange juice and lemonade plus sausage roll and a bag of mini Baby Bells sufficed. Tregaron to New Quay was another tough stretch, with around 170 miles done and the early morning I was starting to feel tired.
I ordered Fish and Chips, again, this seems to be a habit whilst cycling. The 30 minutes it took to cook meant it was fresh, but I watched various seasoned audaxers bounce the control. Stop, stamp and off again within minutes.
The half mile 10% hill out of New Quay soon gave me the understanding as to why so many people bounced the control, I managed to hold lunch down, the hill leveled off to a gradual 4% for the next 4 miles, but it was a nauseous experience, in fact the next 40 miles were spent digesting.
Back at the West End Cafe, I ordered desert, this was to celebrate passing my previous maximum 206miles in a day, it wasn’t all I passed, it was at this point I felt confident, I could relax, only 60 or so miles to go until the end, this was to be punctuated by another stop at Llangattock where soup, bread, rice pudding and fruit were piled down the hatch.
The final stretch, not surprisingly was the hardest, I was tired, my eye lids were closing, there wasn’t much I could do to keep my brain awake, but my legs kept spinning and I made reasonable progress until the final climb just beyond Usk. I don’t remember much of the climb, I was battling with staying awake. Eventually two fellow cyclists approached, they had missed the previous control due to a last minute change in venue. I asked if I could follow their wheel, the conversation soon woke me up, along with the descent in to Chepstow.
More food was consumed at the arivee in the company of some good people that I had met along the way. Done, 19 hours 20 minutes for the 400km Brevet Cymru course!
Just the cycle home. The lure of a bed kept me going, closing the day at 301.5 miles in 24hours.
To make up for the lack of event photos, I took a gentle ride over the Mendips to have some cake on the bank holiday Monday.
Next stop – Bryan Chapman Memorial 600km