14 years later.......
Last year, my friend Lewis decided on a whim to do the Brecon Beast after seeing a sign whilst in Brecon with his girlfriend. He managed to pursuade his brother to do it with him and they rocked up without too much preparation and despite the rain, mist and killer winds, they did it in 6h15 and had a great time.
He didn't even mention it to us until after he'd done it. Straight away, I was interested in doing the 2012 one with him and said as much but really didn't think I would ever get around to it. Then, in the Spring, my other friends all decided they were going to do it with him. Everyone laughed at my mate Seb who whilst naturally fit and active, is more into roll-ups and cider than energy drinks and cereal bars. I kept hmming and arrrrghing and kept making excuses about how busy I was at work to train.
Meanwhile, all these (I now think fictional) tales kept coming down the phone about the many training rides they were going on.
So, after worrying myself far too much about it, I thought, if Seb can do it (he works almost as many hours as I do and has a hundred other things going on in his life on top) then I can do it. So, I brought my bike (£200 GT) back from the stables, pumped up the tyres and fitted an old unopened cycle computer I'd had in the shed for five years then stood back and looked at it.........and went back indoors!
Next evening, I got on. Hey, this wasn't so bad. Then I got to the first 'hill'. Oh sweet mother hubbard, I thought my legs were going to explode. I can spend eight hours a day walking but this was a killer. Quickly down-shifting all the way to bottom gear, it suddenly dawned on me, if I want to keep moving, I have to keep peddaling. Sounds stupidly obvious but its been my motto ever since and every time I feel my effort fading away, I remind myself.
At the top of the first hill and by now warmed up, I hit a nice flat section and pressed on. Reaching speeds of 17mph at times I was feeling great and wondering what all the fuss was about. Looking at the speedo, I decided I was going to get to 10 miles before I turned back. Luckily, this road (which later became a handy TT route to push and test myself) goes pretty much dead straight for an age. At ten miles, I stopped for a quick drink and looked at my average- 12.5mph - and turned for home. At which point, I realised I'd been wind assisted for the last 6 miles!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The slog back was painful and by the time I got home, I was savage. This cycling nonsense was hard work!!!!!
Anyway, for whatever reason, I plugged on. In the first fortnight I was doing 20 miles most nights and then rode 50 miles round-trip to Marlborough that Sunday.
Meanwhile, the so called training regieme over in Wiltshire was a farce. In fact, it was non-existant. Chatting on the phone, Seb would casually say he'd ridden 14 miles the previous evening and taken him 'about an hour'. So, feeling inadequate with my now mid 13's average, I'd push myself harder the next night.
I suggested we all met on the Plain for a training ride mid August which was set in stone. The 6 man team was already down to 4 and off we went.
"Bombard OP"- a favourite Salisbury Plain photo spot:
I think we got about 9 miles until the other two, who'd been hanging back, suddenly piped up that Deano had to be in Bath for 3pm. This was the first I'd heard of it and tbh, it made me cross because it was a blatent excuse to account for their now starkly obvious lack of training!
So we went home.
Next day, Seb was moaning about an old knee injury that had flared up so needless to say, he was pulling out. So, just Lewis and I then.
A 36 miler on Salisbury Plain was rattled off a couple of Sundays before and we looked in good form.
With 475 training miles under my belt it was off to Wales to slay the Beast!