May 17th, 2019
Samuel’s Guest Blog Part 1
Richmond Cycles riders took on the 130km final day of the Tour de Yorkshire. Riding along with thousands of amateur riders on the very same roads, experiencing the same roaring crowds, and crossing the same finish line as the professionals. Here cycling friend, Yorkshireman and regular RC shop rider, Samuel Wilson, shares the experience of his first major cycling challenge.
“By Eck! I did it. I completed the 2019 Tu’Tour de Yorkshire! “
I am writing this on a train, on my way into work thinking back a few days to when I was. sat at the bottom of Greenhow climb (Distance: 3.9KM AVG Grade 7.3% = Blooming brutal) during the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire. The biggest and most notorious climb of the day but the one I had been training for. I remember thinking ‘OK Samuel, you haven’t got this far to take it easy up this climb, turn off the pain and push!’.
On home ground
I only took up cycling 18months ago and in that time have made a lot of changes in my lifestyle to accommodate this new passion (but that’s another blog). Happily on the morning of the event, everything seemed to click into place. I had (under the guidance of cycling buddy, Tom) successfully tapered off my training in the week leading up to the event and my legs felt strong enough to carry me over the finish line.
Pushing off it wasn’t long until I found my now familiar rhythm on the bike and started passing people from the groups with earlier starts to ease congestion on the road.
My first ‘planned’ stop was around an hour in, near Harrogate, to see my father who had come to cheer me on. Bless him, Colin was stood at the side of the road not really sure of what to expect. Aware he would see his son ride by for his first time in a big event like this but also that he was going to see me wearing some very tight and questionable attire. After a brief chat and a strong hug, I was on my way again.
Pot Bank was the first notable climb and then onto Brimham Rocks – where I experienced a notable rise in my heartrate. I had spent many hours climbing and playing around here as a kid and it was a great feeling to be back doing what I now loved on two wheels. The scenery was beginning to change, a real sense of nostalgia – onwards in tu’Yorkshire Dales.
And the next ‘planned’point where I saw my mother. R’Babs, as I call her, was stood at the side of the road with her phone out waiting for me to come passed. As soon as she saw me, she let out what can only be described as a mother’s whoop. R’Babs and my stepdad Jon had been waiting at the side of the road for me to turn up and it was blooming lovely to see them around half way into my day. R’babs had tears in her eyes and told me that she was very proud of what I was doing.
What more motivation could I have asked for. Not only had they and my father taken the time out of their days to see me they were unwittingly giving me the energy to continue. Then the competitive me kicked in and I knew I couldn’t hang around too long – what is an RC rider passed me? So I mananged a couple more embraces and em’boss’ing statements from R’Babs and got back on the wheels.
Friendly Rivalry – cycling Tom and Jerry style
It was then I saw Tom. I was stood in Tu’Yorkshire Dales enjoying a ‘rest brake’ when he flew past me with a smile on his face. Damn it! I was doing a strong enough ride up until that point and with Tom’s recently injury, I thought I would be further ahead. His smile told a different story. Tom proceeded to tell me as we bound along that his knee had clicked back into place during one of the big climbs of the day and he was feeling great!
“That’s great news” I said, we all know that was a friendly lie. It was on!
We rode together for a few miles losing each other on hills and passing each other at a steady pace – I knew this was going to last until the end of the race and the dreaded Greenhow Hill was still to come!
RED LIGHT – STOP!
Tom flew through the lights and up the hill in front of me and I was stuck, damn and blast!
GREEN LIGHT – GO!
Game face, engage. Game legs are a go! As soon as I was free to ride I was off. I blooming enjoy riding with Tom, he is a strong rider and can easily beat me on his day. But this was my home turf and I was going to give it my best shot to get ahead.
I didn’t see him for what seemed like hours. At every climb I spotted another jersey who I thought might have been him and pushed to reach it to no avail. I didn’t give up, I wasn’t going to. Not this time.
RED LIGHT – STOP!
Now I had made it into the small town of Pately Bridge, the busiest town of the day to which we were going to ride through, lots of traffic on the roads, people lining the street to cheer us on (blooming lovely!) and, yes you guessed it, traffic lights. One after another, all hope was beginning to fade. If Tom had made it through these lights successfully he would have at least another 3-2mins advantage.
I passed one group, two groups and got to the traffic lights. And there at the front of the pack, TOM! I had finally caught him up but I didn’t want him to know I was there so waited until the last moment…
GREEN LIGHT – GO!
“Hi Tom, your turn!” I was off. Determined that was going to be the last time we saw each other; how wrong I was!
The Greenhow Climb
Sat at the bottom of Greenhow climb my legs feeling the effects of the previous efforts up the rolling hills and trying to catch up with Tom. It was now time for the most brutal climb of the day. I looked back and there was Tom only a few riders behind me. PUSH! Ok maybe slightly more colourful language actually went through my mind.
Greenhow Hill is a climb like no other I had ever completed. To beat it I had to put my bike in the easiest gear possible, get my head down and just keep pushing… for 18:19mins til I hit the top. A steady 8mins or so from the fasted ever recorded time. It was hard going but I made it and at the top could look back and it felt bloody amazing…until I saw Tom right behind me. He had caught me again.
“Good effort” I said, another friendly lie.
The hardest part was over and thanks to my training plan I still had plenty of riding left in me – everything I had learnt over the winter miles – it was now time to turn it all on.
Back in my rhythm and gradually starting to pull away I, thankfully (sorry Tom), didn’t see Tom until he crossed the finish line – not long after me.
I completed Tour De Yorkshire 2019 with a time of five hours and one minute – this included the couple of stops saying hello to my family but without whom it would have been a very different experience. I crossed the finish line with my head down and enough in the tank to sprint away from a couple of riders who had coasted my wheel – and, I am unashamed to say, with a tear in my eye.