So that didn’t go quite as planned.
Was riding in a group with some familiar faces, setting a reasonable pace from the start. Got to the Info control in Hartshill at ~30km, went to sit down and felt the saddle tipping back. Thinking it was just a loose bolt I hopped off and had a look. No such luck, clean break of the right hand sandle rail with the left hand one looking like it was going to go any second. Waved goodbye to the group and wandered towards the CoOp we’d just passed to see if local knowledge could help find a local bike shop. By luck a local gent on a new shiny mountain bike was passing and gave me directions to a cycle shop in Wales. Not having the strongest legs yet I don’t normally like being out of the saddle much at all, but now I didn’t have much choice. With burning thighs I got to the bike shop to find that it shut at 3, and it was now just after 4. Out came the phone, and a quick search on google maps turned up Edison Cycles in Clowne/Chesterfield 7 miles away. A quick phone found they were open till 4:30, but would stay open till I got there. So now a nice hilly ride with no saddle to take a rest on just to really wreck the leg muscles. Edison’s were superb, having this years model of my saddle at a reasonable price and a very speedy fitting service. But even so I’d lost nearly 1 and a half hours by this point so the chase was on.
Pushed reasonably hard towards the first control at Howden but was having some problems with the new saddle position that wasn’t quite being sorted by roadside fettling. That combined with some ‘hot foot’ meant I was stopping frequently to rub feet, fettle and aerate certain areas. After what felt like an age along the flat to Rawcliffe bridge I got to the first checkpoint at Clews garage. Turned out everyone else had been through about 2 hours beforehand. I sat down to eat something but had problems getting it down. Started to worry about the long night ride, both by probably doing most of it on my own whilst tired, and also that if anything did go wrong there was noone behind me to notice (ok, I know someone has to be lantern rouge, I just wasn’t keen on the idea). So, knowing I’d regret it I headed for Goole Station and got the next train to Sheffield where I got picked up by my fiancee.
And I was right. I wasn’t out of time, so I could have happily gone for a sit down somewhere warm for 30-45 minutes and then reevaluated it. And I think if there’d have been someone else there to tell me to HTFU I’d probably have realised I could do it and have carried on. Starting to realise that I’m fit enough to cope with 200km, but once it gets a bit longer or things start going wrong I’ve not got much to fall back on. And I need to mentally toughen up as well, as I think that was half my problem yesterday. So I think I’m going to up my riding a bit with some extended commutes into work and get some night riding in on roads I know and where I’m not worried about getting home if it goes wrong.
The organiser told me I can do it again as a permanent if I want, so I may well head out for another go at some point.