Well, I achieved what I set out to do - not die! The day itself was a challenge. I set off from the finish line at 8.30am only to find that the ride was actually 70 miles long, not the advertised 61 miles. The ride through Crystal Palace and South London was ok, a bit hilly along the roads, but otherwise ok. And then we got to Kent. What was advertised as a fun day out for everyone was actually a nightmare for even the most experienced riders. I saw grown men cry, experienced riders falling off while trying to cycle up the neverending hills, people being run over and others throwing their bikes down in frustration. Hill after hill after hill, over The Weald and the North Downs. No-one could've prepared me for what I faced on Sunday. However, despite my frustrations, I am proud to stated that I endured 45 miles of pure torture before I started crying and couldn't stop. Luckily, the friend I did it with was also feeling nasty and stopped, too. We got ferried to the finish point in Hastings along with some others, mostly experienced riders, who were complaining about the route, that they weren't prepared for the hills and how badl organised the whole event was. I got to the finish line, was told by the staff there that every effort is a success and that I gave it a good go. I received a medal (didn't have the event name on it - pfffttt!) and found my sister, brother and 3 nephews and a niece, who had made me a "Well Done" banner, which started me off crying again. I cycled 45 miles uphill, raised a lot of money for the British Heart Foundation, but the real reward for me was the banner, which had been lovingly cut out and coloured in by my family.
I won't be doing this particular ride next year, but I will be finding flatter ones!