We leave at 11am. We are told to swing by Edinburgh to pick up another member of the Scottish team. There are major holdbacks at the Forth Road Bridge so we are at a standstill for maybe an hour. Then her train was another hour or so late. Then because we went via Edinburgh and not Glasgow, we were stuck on a single track road for part of the journey to the west side of the country. We get to England. There is a crash and we are at a standstill again for maybe 45 minutes. We then get to Wales. There is another standstill. We get to the hotel at 10.45pm; nearly 12 hours after we set off. I open my toilet bag ready to brush my teeth and go straight to bed. The toothpaste I thought I saw in it was actually Kyle’s hair removal cream that I made him use on his gorilla chest before Thailand (TMI??!). Cue us both putting our trainers on and sprinting (9min/miles) to see if we remembered where the nearest Spar was. 10.58pm, as they are getting ready to close, we get straight in, procure toothpaste, then head back to the hotel.
The one thing that kept me going:
(woohoo to PB M&Ms!)
The intention was to get up at 6am to leave by 6.30am for a 60 mile cycle. I had it all mapped out. I was hoping to take my time, take in the sights (and hills) of Snowdonia, be back by 10ish, grab food with Kyle and his fellow Scotland teammates, cheer them on at the start of the race (2pm), do a run session while they race, watch the finish, then I roped a couple of them into an open water swim in the lake with beers and sunshine, then party into the night. Sounds amazing, right?
The reality was very different. I was super tired (I felt jet lagged!) from our 4.30am wake up call and near 12 hour drive the previous day, so changed my plan to have breakfast with Babez, head out by 9.30am, come back by 1pm, see him before the race, then cheer them on/run/open water swim/beers etc. That also seemed to work. I had a printed map of my route, screen shotted it on my phone AND write the road numbers on my hand, and cycled off on my merry way up a big hill out of Llanberis.
(stunning, aint it?)
Despite taking my time, I was averaging about 19mph for the 1st hour, when it started to get even windier and constant downpours restricted my viewing pleasure. Luckily, I had waterproofs so put them on (I was already soaked through but it would help from the wind). I was still enjoying it (it was pretty warm and the scenery was breath-taking!) After a couple hours, I was at a roundabout. The rain had taken off my ink on my hand so I referred to the map for the road number. I took the exit pretty confident and continued on that road, looking for the next road. A few miles passed and I still hadn’t seen the road I was looking for (A5). I got to 53 miles in when I was still relatively confident that I had less than 10 miles to go, I checked the map thinking the A5 would maybe only last a few miles and take me straight home. It was soaked through that I couldn’t read it. I then checked my phone (which for once was reliable and had both battery AND signal!) ready to call Kyle to tell him I’d be back in less than half an hour to have lunch with him.
No. Nooo. NOOOOO!
I had gone on the right road in the WRONG DIRECTION!!! I was now 40 MILES from Llanberis!!!!!!!!! I was not only going to miss his ENTIRE race (start and finish) but I was already exhausted, only had a snickers and banana with me, and was already shivering in the cold having only stopped for a couple of minutes. I called Kyle crying. He was amazing – he didn’t panic and told me to just take my time, try and cycle on for another 20 miles, find a town and see if I could get a taxi from there.
I did as I was told (I am an Ironman after all 😉 …!) but the storm was so bad that I couldn’t feel my fingers/toes, despite good layering (I have terrible Raynaud’s – if anyone has tips let me know!). Even my Garmin crashed (no Strava QOMs for me!). I managed to cycle for an hour or so, took what I thought was the road back to the hotel, which was uphill all the way.
Starting to feel sick with the cold, I double checked my phone. WRONG WAY AGAIN!! I don’t normally like to give up (think Ironman 3 months post car-crash), but I was broken. I rolled downhill, found a small village, saw they had a hotel, dragged me and my bike into said hotel, begged for a hot chocolate (which they brought me with extra whipped cream and a chocolate dusted sad face on top…that cheered me up for 0.8seconds!), found a settee and blanket and preceded to use their wifi and message Kyle.
At that point it was 2.55pm. Kyle had about 15 mins left of racing so I was on the tracker. I was hoping since he didn’t see me at the finish, he would know to check his phone (he is normally rubbish with his phone!) – which he DID!! He called me about 30 minutes after my arrival at the hotel and asked for details of my location and that he would be there as soon as possible. He never even got water he just took a screen shot of where I was and headed the 23 mile journey to get me. Is he amazing or what?!
Why didn’t you get a taxi, I hear you ask? Well because the bartender offered to call some taxi companies to try and get “local’s rates” but I was quoted £70, and I am an Aberdonian. I knew I would be waiting at the hotel for a couple of hours, but they were all so nice to me there and I couldn’t get out on my bike again. I would get really ill.
So back to the time. 2.55pm. The kitchen closed at 3pm and last orders at 2.45pm. Typical! Furthermore, remember my Garmin broke in the storm? Well it was making a high pitched buzzing noise. Only no one knew it was the Garmin making the noise. People in the hotel reckoned it was the speakers/camera/wifi etc. Guests were complaining and engineers were called in. Yep, my bad. Call out charges and loss of profits from guests leaving/not buying more drinks. I was the most expensive hot chocolate they’d ever served!
When Kyle picked me up, he brought a blanket and spare clothes for me, but no water or food for him, and the said 23 mile journey took him an hour because the roads were so hilly and bendy 😦 I felt horrible and couldn’t stop crying and apologising.
When we finally got back, I just wanted to sit in the shower in the foetal position, but we bumped into a couple of the Irish team (who were our drinking buddies a couple years ago!) who enticed us to come downstairs for dinner and Jagerbombs…! Having a joke around when them (they were walking like penguins since the race had taken that much out of them) was all we both needed to cheer up and get ready for the night ahead.
It was actually more tame than expected! We had a nice dinner, then headed outside (as the storm finally cleared and it was glorious sunshine…TYPICAL!) for the sunset.
We all agreed to get up and do an easy run in the morning before travelling, and I joined them and finished off with the run session I was due to do the previous day (a creaky 4x5mins after 80 miles and a few ciders in my legs!).
The road trip home (we took James who ROCKED the race with an 11th place debut and 1st Scot home!) was a LOT more fun than the journey there, and not just because we stopped for a dozen Dunkin Donuts en route! But by the time we got home it was 8pm and time for dinner & bed…
(Delirious selfie after 8 hours of driving!)
I feel so much better for ranting that out to you guys…thanks for listening!
Every got lost on a cycle/run/race?
Most you would pay/have paid for a taxi?
Hill races: awesome or hell?