We were all punctual at 7am sharp for our morning warm up led by Sanjay Parmar and Bill Colson. Sanjay took us through some gentle yoga that really connected us to the countryside then Bill added some fizz with a rousing verse of ‘Sunshine Mountain’.
We set off for a 14k leg to our first stop and the bottom of our first major hill.
There were mixed emotions going up, there was steely determination not to walk from Lorna Saunders and humour from the Irish contingent (Mo Rasool and Columb Convery) and a certain bounciness from Cliff Gray. Of course, in any group, there are stronger riders; Brian Downton was ‘King of the Mountain’ and first up; others were encouraged and supported up the hill by team members with big hearts. Although I am slightly suspicious of John Roberts and Sanjay at the back ‘helping out’ on most days - did they just wanted an easy ride of it but Katie Wakeling called them out when she made the tough decision and left them with nowhere to hide.
The other side of the hill was a different story, free flowing, high speed, stinging rain and then glorious sunshine and views. Mark Duckworth was down first, claiming heroics of daring that no-one actually saw!
So far so good, but disaster was waiting and it had Neil Hurrell’s name on it, stung by a bee in his nether regions, pleading someone... anyone to take the pain away, while Shelley Hurrell was on hand with blocks of ice.
We were then treated to a visit to the Golden Bridge, 1400m above sea level, 150 m long and supported by a pair of 8m hands unfortunately shrouded in cloud for the most part but a spectacular site nonetheless and some grand photo bombing opportunities taken by Mo.
Another member of the team has earned my respect this week, a new cyclist who has “beasted” everyone and smashed every hill - Eleanor is ‘hard as nails’ or that’s what I though until she got in the cable car and turned to blubbering jelly.
The line of the day for me was from Sam Sinclair ‘I’m walking but I’m smiling and I’m happy’ a great sense of what today was about.