With all the preparations finally complete, Lizzie and I set off from Oxford at 7am on Saturday morning (after a surprise meeting with Johnny, who gave us a few extra supplies, which came in very useful), feeling optimistic and confident we would be able to complete this challenge without too much bother.
The conditions early on were perfect, enabling Lizzie and I to settle into the ride nicely. The Sun was beginning to rise over the City, the air was still cool and the terrain flat. Everything felt good – if cycling was like this all the time, I’d definitely do it more often!
The first 30 miles to Winslow passed by without any issue – the route was very pleasant as we rode through some very pretty villages and lovely countryside. We arrived in the quaint market town of Winslow for a quick stop, still feeling very positive. After an intake of food and water and some re-application of chamois cream (Sam’s new best friend) we set off again.
The 2nd third of the journey took us to Bedford via a slight detour passed Woburn Safari Park. We could clearly feel the temperature beginning to rise, however feeling re-energised from our pit stop Lizzie and I were still able to make good progress arriving in Bedford around 1pm. This would provide us with our lunch time stop, enabling us to get some good rest and take on some more food and water.
Lizzie and I could have happily have stayed here for the rest of the afternoon, knowing we had a very difficult 30 miles ahead of us into Cambridge. However, we managed to motivate ourselves back onto our saddles (bums beginning to feel sore). With a final check of the route we set off, still feeling confident we would get to Cambridge around 5pm. The temperature was getting increasingly hotter (and Lizzie’s face, getting increasingly redder) which definitely had an impact on our pace.
After a few miles out of Bedford, on quiet country roads (which required a lot of looking at the map and therefore slowing us down), we decided to jump onto the main A road that would take us straight into Cambridge. Although it probably wasn’t the safest or most legal route to take, it was good knowing this road would take us straight into the city (kind of).
At this point, I was beginning to struggle with my knee, which had been hurting after around 40 miles and getting worse with each mile. This road seemed to go on forever, and to make matters worse, I got a puncture. After a brief stop to repair the puncture, (much briefer than I thought it would be) we set off again; only 15 miles to go.
After what seemed like an eternity, we cycled into the city of Cambridge arriving around 6pm. Lizzie and I were staying in separate locations, so we split up to get a nice cold shower before meeting again for dinner.
Over the course of the evening/night my knee grew increasingly sore and I was struggling to walk on it. I wasn’t feeling particularly positive about the next morning, but hoped that a good night’s rest would do the trick. Unfortunately it didn’t. I woke up at 5am (hardly having slept) unable to move my knee or put any weight on it. I had to make the very disappointing phone call to Lizzie to tell her that I would be unable to continue.
Lizzie however, feeling well rested and determined to complete the challenge jumped back onto her bike and headed for Oxford alone. Lizzie made amazing progress through the morning arriving in Winslow (30 miles from Oxford) just after 1pm; which is an even more impressive pace when you consider she got lost in Milton Keynes for over an hour.
The 30 miles from Winslow to Oxford proved to be very hard going. Feeling very sore and tired, Lizzie battled through the horrible wind and rain to arrive back at the office just before 5pm, welcomed home by some staff members. And then it was off to the pub for a very well deserved a pint (or two).