Day 4 is traditionally when the grind of repeated 100 mile plus days begins to tell on the riders. The early enthusiasm is replaced by a stoic determination as the legs remind you that you’ve ridden hundreds of miles already, but your head reminds you that it isn’t even half way yet! However, we were helped out when the forecast heavy rain was conspicuously absent and the camp rose to another glorious morning of sunshine and pink tinged clouds.
The 106 mile route between Ludlow and Haydock racecourses is the flattest of the entire week. This allowed everyone from the fastest to slowest in the field to continue to hone their group riding skills as they pushed on past the Stipperstones and onto the Cheshire plains. Passing canals, harvested fields and beautiful villages the rain seemed to hold clear until the afternoon when the occasional heavy shower gave people a drenching , before the sun would quickly come back out drying them off again quickly.
Two of the heroes of the day were Tim Farr and Sean Rose who both joined us for the day on hand-cycles. Sean had just retired from competing at Paralympic level while Tim was using it as part of his preparation for Sochi 2014 where he hopes to represent ParalympicsGB in the downhill skiing events. Seeing these guys out on the road once again reminded everyone the graft that goes into being a Paralympic athlete. Sean summed it up concisely on crossing the finish line when he pronounced, “Arrrrgh, my tits feel like crisps.”
They weren’t the only ones joining us last night though. Deloitte Ride Across Britain veteran, British Paralympic Association ambassador and Paralympic legend Sarah Storey and her husband Barney also joined us for the evening briefing. Boasting a higher position in the London 2012 Paralympic Games medal table than Canada, they chatted to everyone about their experiences of the last few weeks and also a bit of insight into how they felt when they were participating inDeloitteRAB previously. Despite there being a lot of tired legs in the crowd the standing ovation echoed across the racecourse.
Day 5: Haydock to Penrith- 106 miles
Riding from Haydock Park to Hutton-in-the-Forest (Penrith), riders will have passed through Wigan and Preston with the scenery becoming more pleasurable with fantastic views across the Fylde coast to Blackpool Tower and inland to the edge of the Pennines. Prior to joining the A6 the Ride travels in a northerly direction just before Keswick. The route then takes in the world famous Shap Climb from the steep side, providing great views of the Lake District prior to a great finish to Hutton-in-the-Forest.
As if that wasn’t enough sight seeing for one day our route is also going to be crossing the path of today’s Tour of Britain. It seems only right that these two events cross. One showcasing the best British cycling talent there is with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish leading the charge, and the other one taking riders through the best of British scenery. We do have to point out though that with Sarah and Barney Storey, James Cracknell and Alex Partridge all riding in the Deloitte RAB peloton on Day 5 there is no contest to which one boasts the most Olympic and Paralympic medals!