Suffolk Sunrise 2017
On the day, we arrived bright and early, just 45 minutes after the official start….and picked up race numbers. A bag of jelly babies was gratefully received and stowed safely in my jersey pocket with the other bag of jelly babies… the banana, the energy gels, hex wrenches, spare inner tube, pump, tyre levers and other essentials. After a quick safety briefing we were off on our way.
This was my first time riding in a big group and so I’d been briefed on riding etiquette, hand signals and the like. It seems like common sense that emptying a nostril is something that should be done clear of the main group, but I’m grateful that it was my handlebar that took the full force of another rider’s snot flob in the first 10 minutes of the ride. I didn’t see who it was in order to return the favour, so chalked it up to experience.
It was a brisk spring morning, heavily overcast, and for much of the ride, arm warmers were essential and leg warmers would have been nice too. Nevertheless, Gav and I kept up a steady 28 km/h for the first 50km until we hit our first feed station.
After gorging on tea and jaffa cakes we saddled up again and headed on towards lunch. This was to be a ride punctuated and defined by the feed stations. The weather stayed cool, but eventually the cloud lifted, and by lunch time the sun was peeking nervously through the cover. At about 80km we hit feed station 2. A lunch of fluffy white cheese and pickle rolls and crisps was consumed whilst feet were rested, before we hit the road again. At this point I was beginning to look forward to the inclines as they were giving me an excuse to get out of the saddle and rest my aching perineum. I started to get nervous about what 4 solid days in the saddle is going to feel like, and seriously consider investing in a pot of chamois cream.
When I get tired I find excuses to stop. Good reasons to stop can be, to empty my bladder, to take a stone out of my shoe, to blow my nose or to take a photo. At this point I started finding reasons to take photos. I guess it helped that the sun had come out by this point too.
Having started out with a respectable (for me) average of 28kmh, we were now averaging closer to 24 km/h and starting to feel a little jaded. We’d also stopped chatting and had fallen subconsciously into a sort of drafting routine, each taking a turn at the front. Nothing formal, just when the drafter felt that the leader was getting lazy, the pace was picked up with a change of leader.
By the time we hit the final feed station at 125km the average speed was nudging back up towards 25km/h. At the final feed station I decided to try one of the cereal bars that were available. Quite honestly, had I not been in need of the calories, after the first bite, I’d have binned the thing. As it was, the affectionately renamed ‘excrement bar’ was consumed, nuts and all, purely in the pursuit of calories.
The final push and thankfully a sort of arse numbness had kicked in. Whether it was down to natural endorphines or permanent nerve damage, whatever it was, I was happy at this point able to spend more than 30 seconds seated, which meant that the pace got a little quicker too. We finally pedalled over the finish line and hit stop on Strava after 163.7km and a riding time of 6:24:52. Sunrise completed.
Next stop, Dunwich Dynamo…