60 miles overnight on a very wet september night.
Found a drive thru subway in salford where I grabbed my tea on my way to trafford centre - the guy there said his Dad had done the daytime ride & found it hard work. Then my cousin James came along to keep me company til the ride started & he said he thought it'd take me ages on my bike - he did the daytime version the other month . So when I set off I was worried that I wouldnt be able to make it, especially as I'd only done a hand full of hours on the exbike.
Was surprised at how fast places came up, before I knew it I was at Freckleton and I knew that that place is in the general Blackpool vicinity so pushed on. Didn't stop at any of the feed station / rest stops. A group of about 20 of us missed a turn and ended up going through Preston by mistake (up a big hill there too), but a car came to lead us back to the main route. Prob put some extra miles on there. Really enjoyed the road up Blackrod - there were no street lights tho, so I couldnt see how much of a hill it was, but I fairly powered up it.
To say its generally down to sea level - it felt like most of the route was a gradual uphill with some sharp uphills, only one good bit of down. I was surprised at that.
Lots of nice comments on the bike. Lots of people seemed to know it was a 60s one. Everyone was really friendly - even the speedy pros.
I reckon I finished in the top fifth of people. I ended up with my own pace, riding on my own for about the last 20miles- rather than groups that seemed to form that I'd ridden with earlier- I couldnt see people ahead (or only just ahead) and nobody behind - so I wasnt sure how well I was doing, but when I got to the finish there were about a hundred people there (out of about a thousand riders!) & I'd seen some coming back. Because I was on my own, it felt very nice having everyone cheering me at the finish line, and I had to suck it up not to cry (I had a little blub under the first illumination). I got a medal and good job too - as I got to St Anne's I just thought 'ooh I hope I get a medal'.
There were quite afew people along the route cheering us on - standing outside pubs and waving - non seemed that drunk either. I know they'd been talking about it on the radio, so guess they must have known about it. That was ace.
Enjoyed the illuminations and was so glad of them - think that last two miles would have felt harder had I not had them to look at. They meant I couldnt see the tower either, which was good as it prob would have seemed like it wasnt getting any closer had I fixed my eyes on it. The tower's not covered in lights this year - just afew at the top. Or maybe they didnt turn it on for us. The illuminations along the side werent on. Riding the last two miles under lights that I think had been switched on at that time just for us (I'm pretty sure they usually turn them off overnight) was quite emotional somehow.