Great Manchester Cycle – 29th June 2014

The one and only cycling event in the Great series, one I was really looking forward to. After the 2,500 cyclingthe92 event that I finished in July last year I hadn’t touched my bike since so I was unsure if I’d still be perfectly fine at cycling or if I’d have lost it a bit after what was near enough a year of being idle.

For the swims and runs I was just travelling with a bag with my kit in so when I booked my train from Reigate to Manchester (including tube travel), I completely forgot that you weren’t allowed on the tubes with a racing bike. 

As such I quickly found myself on a race against time trying to get from London Bridge Station to Victoria Station in order to catch my train.  It’s only 3.4 miles but when you have no idea where you’re going and try following your phone maps while cycling those miles can soon increase. Luckily I made it just in time and boarded my train up to Manchester.

On arrival at Manchester Piccadilly station I then checked where the hotel was on my phone – another 4.6 miles.  When I got to the hotel I had booked I wasn’t entirely sure what it was as it had an unusual convent feel to it. I think it was because of the layout and how people were just roaming about this grass area in the centre that had benches. Crazy.

Anyway, I threw everything down in my room and headed out to do my usual routine of finding the nearest supermarket to get a load of food in for that night and the following morning. I got back to the hotel in time for the Brazil v Colombia game, ate my mounds of food and got an early night.

It was the morning of the cycle and I had decided I’d try the professional athlete diets you hear of for this one and so the first thing I attempted to eat that morning was a pack of two boiled eggs I had bought. I bit into one and nearly barfed. Screw that serious eating game I thought and threw the eggs in the bin!

I got to the start of the cycle in loads of time after my learning from the Great North Swim and it was great for the start to be at Man City’s ground. Being a football fan the route of going between two football grounds was right up my street. 

We got into line in anticipation of the start and I had a similar shock as I did at the start of the Great North Swim as never have I personally seen so many cyclists in one place as I’ve never done a mass participation event before. I got chatting with a couple of guys next to me who were quite nervous about the start what with there being so many people and I’ve got to admit I was having the same thoughts. So we had ourselves what felt like a small self help group forming – Cyclists Anonymous I suppose you could call it.

As soon as you got started though it was no problem and I absolutely loved the event as you could chat to people on the way around and have a laugh with everyone. A man cycled up alongside as he saw the back of my t-shirt saying about my challenge and he asked a few questions, loved the idea and said he might look to do the same thing next year, so that was fantastic.

After not cycling for so long I did start to feel it a bit near the end but as ever the fellow participants as well as a good handful of the trusty jelly babies powered me through. When the finish was in my sights I saw everyone crossing the line without doing anything so I decided I had to go large and do a big celebration. I didn’t hear him at the time but I have seen the little video clip that goes up on the website after the cycle showing you cross the line since and you can hear the man on the microphone at the finish say “David Clarke’s very happy with life, well done David.” Ha ha! What a great comment!

I went back to the convent and got showered before starting off on the 4.6 mile cycle back to the train station. However, I stopped en route as it’s always important to eat after these physical challenges so I got a huge maccies meal in before getting the train back down. And of course, I had the race against time from Euston to London Bridge again in order to get my train.  An additional 16 miles added onto my weekend from those little extras – not needed!

15th Learning – remember you can’t take your bike on the tube!!

16th Learning – don’t eat cold boiled eggs first thing when you wake up, horrible.

8 events down and this brought the end to a very tiring June in which I had 4 events in 5 weekends!!