The 2019 edition of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain starts in around two weeks (on 7 September) and by now I expect the first time rider’s mindset varies between trepidation (Have I done enough training? Have I got all the kit? Will it rain? – the answer to all three is “Yes”, almost certainly for the third question) and excitement that the ride will be starting soon. I know that one year ago I just wanted the ride to start as I had been training pretty solidly for over 10 months.
Although I attended the Deloitte RAB Training Ride in April 2018 and had read all the Threshold briefing emails I still wasn’t sure what to expect or how I would cope on the ride. I thought I would share my top tips for surviving both on the road and in camp.
On the Road
- Do try and find a group to ride with over the first couple of days
- It is much more sociable
- You can save a huge amount of effort if you share the riding at the front
- But if you arrange to meet the next day
- make sure you are on time
- don’t leave before the appointed time
- Don’t spend too much time in the feed stations, especially the first one
- NEVER EVER try to turn on a manhole or drain cover in the wet (or even slightly damp), and if possible don’t ride over them at all. The same goes for the railway level crossing outside Preston!
- If you are on your own and come across another single rider who is slightly slower than you, do slow down and offer to give them a tow. You could end up picking up a few other stragglers and making their day. I benefitted from a tow on Day 4 last year and returned the favour on Day 5. Slowing from 15 mph to 13 mph for 10 miles or so didn’t cost too much time – after all, it is not a race !
- Don’t undertake cars when in stationary traffic (leaving Bath on Day 3 and Preston on Day 5) – it severely annoys the drivers when there are 800 cyclists on the same stretch of road!
- If you really need a proper coffee, stop before or after a feed station as you could quite easily queue for 10 minutes at the “posh coffee” van. I suggest stopping say 10 miles before the second feed station – it is probably around 11 am anyway, you can probably sit down and there will not be a queue for the toilet!
In the Camp and at Feed Stations
- Learn to live with the queues or work you way around them
- I did the Plus Package last year and we would arrive in camp at 6 am which was peak breakfast queue. I ended up sorting out my water bottles, pumping up the bike tyres and fitting lights and then going for breakfast by which time the queue had diminished. The teeth brushing stand is a great place at which to fill the water bottles – just don’t confuse it with the warm water washing stand right next door (Yup I did it once!)
- The queues at the first feed station on Day 1 are the worst of all the feed stations
- Do remove the tops from your water bottles before reaching the front of the queue for the water bowsers
- Consider aiming to start 30 minutes after the first start time (unless you know you could have trouble with the Broom Waggon).
- You have time for more breakfast (extra fuel) and another cup of coffee
- There will not be a queue at the start line (no standing around in the cold and possibly rain)
- You will probably have lots of cyclists to “chase” and pass which is good for the motivation (it works for me)
- The only days this doesn’t work are Day 3 (leaving Bath) and Day 5 (going through Preston) when the hills and rush hour traffic mean you tend to cycle at the pace of the slowest rider in front of you!
- On arriving in camp, consider getting your tent and shower first and then cleaning your bike
- Use an old face cloth to wipe down the chain (pull from front to back on the bottom chain) which gets ride of most of the road muck (store cloth in a plastic bag). Re-lube with wet lube and you’re good to go for the next day.
- If on the Plus Package, find out before leaving Camp that the hotel does food if you don’t intend to come back to Camp for dinner. My biggest mistake last year was leaving Camp shortly after arriving at the end of Day 7, travelling for 25 minutes or so and finding that the hotel did not do food. Fish and chips in between two days of 114 and 118 miles involving massive Scottish climbing was not enough ! Day 8 was seriously hard work.
- Find out from Threshold if there is an address for courier deliveries before you order extra kit or energy bars. I thought I was terribly clever arranging for a delivery of my usual energy bars to a hotel I knew I was staying at in a couple of days. Unfortunately, the hotel did not have my name (just a Threshold block booking) and the hotel didn’t accept the delivery ! I was not happy….
- Do try and enjoy the experience. It maybe the only time you do the ride
- Do seek medical advice early rather than grinning and bearing it
- Do take time to stop and take photos (unless the Broom Waggon is right behind you!) – IT IS NOT A RACE