Written by Dan Preston.
15th June 2018 - what a day!
Myself and John are taking on a challenge that we both said we will never do again as the mental and physical demands we put our mind and bodies through was astonishing.
It all started with leaving my house early hours of the morning - 04:30. After checking over bikes and bags again and again, with a few early morning snaps taking by Kayleigh and off we set, phones bleeping with messages wishing good luck - it is amazing how everyone comes together with support from all over the world.
We had a huge surprise from Blue Watch Didcot fire station, my colleagues who have supported us all the way. They secretly arranged with Kayleigh when we were leaving to parade and cheer us on our journey, following with the fire appliance - what a great highlight of this journey!
Watch manger - Jon Walker
Crew manager - Lee Newport
Ff - Richard West
Ff - Alan Brown
Ff - Ross Parnell
Off we set, with a beautiful morning sun rising behind us! First stop at 32 miles in soon came round at 07:30 at a village hall in Purton Swindon. It was a cold morning up and down the shaded parts of the country roads, I was struggling with keeping my legs and feet warm.
We both changed into much warmer clothing - leggings winter jerseys etc.
The scenery was amazing, rolling hills for miles and miles, lovely picturesque villages and towns, it was a shame to ride on through without stopping!
Second stop was a town called Yate in Gloucestershire, 60 miles in, around 13 miles from Severn Bridge. A well deserved Mcdonalds breakfast and coffee for some!!
Third stop, a beautiful town called Usk in Monmouthshire 88 miles in. This journey would not be possible without my dad and brother with the support vehicle.
Hot drink and cake along with more carbs! The Brecon hills here we come! We were starting to feel the pain from sitting on the bikes for a long period of time, lower back and neck were suffering and feeling sore.
Keeping on top of regular pain killers to ease the pain was a big relief. The mental challenge along with the physical strain was feeling real!
From the moment of crossing the bridge the elevation became real, after leaving Usk the Brecon hills were next. 40 miles of climbing approx 9000 feet. Fourth stop in Brecon town 118 miles in.
Both our bodies were feeling every bump and rotation of pedals as the climbs were never ending! Keeping on top of our energy levels was key with hydration and energy gels, sweets and solid foods. My stomach was feeling sore from eating!
Finally a break from the hills, we refuelled at Brecon town, then off we set trying to keep our bodies as warm as possible with thermal blankets and extra clothing. With around 10 miles of downhill ahead of us that was a great feeling, until disaster struck and I hit a pot hole on my bike and damaged the electronic gearing. I was stuck in the middle sprocket of the rear cassette - not good!
The support car was needed along with the spare bike. It nearly ended the ride but everything was ok after a quick changeover of all gear to spare bike - bags, lights, Garmin, computer etc. plus any adjustments.
We didn’t need this so far in ride. the emotions were becoming high and pressure of riding a bike I was unfamiliar with was no fun.
The fifth stop was Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, it seemed to take forever to arrive 151 miles in. Both of us were physically shattered with energy levels dropping. Instant energy was required so caffeine gels and lots of Jaffa cakes and Coke/Red Bulls were consumed. Eating on the bike while riding is a challenge, deep breathing and chewing becomes difficult. it was only time for the energy to kick in what seemed for ages.
Our final stop, the sixth stop was Carmarthen town. Chicken burgers from local chip shop with Red Bull - yum yum! Weather was getting cold as it was getting late around 19:30 and there was a constant head wind that never really affected us until now. It took all our efforts plus more to compensate for this head wind.
Heading towards the Pembrokeshire border seemed to go on for ever and ever. Finally reaching the border at 200 miles was an achievement we both will never forget .
Finally I can’t thank you all for the constant messages from friends and family wishing us luck by text messages and social media also following the ride on Garmin live.
This gave both of us so much more to give. The challenge never got any easier though, we finally reached the Pembrokeshire border completely shattered and in lots of pain it has be an epic challenge for such a great cause.