Mac Ride Tour 2013 Bath-Gloucester-Stratford-upon-Avon
By Stourbug member – Julie Plant.
When I joined Stourbug in May 2012 I was able to ride about 10 miles so long as it was on the flat and did not involve main roads. I progressed to riding 25 miles comfortably with the help and patience of Stourbug ride leaders and fellow Stourbug riders. My personal best in 2012 was 52 miles, over the winter I regressed back to 30 miles maximum. When my husband John first suggested that I join him on the Macride Tour, a ride of 40 miles on the Saturday and 60 on the Sunday I thought that he was joking!
The tour looked good and raises thousands of pounds each year for Macmillan so I decided to enter and see what happened. John could always cycle to the end and come back for me in the car if necessary!
It was cold and raining as our bikes were all packed onto a lorry and we climbed onto the coach at Stratford-upon-Avon, at 7.30am, on the Saturday. The Stourbug riders managed to get seats together and we were a merry team chatting as we drove towards the start in Bath.
The bikes were unloaded and the rain stopped and we set off along the river. John, Helena and I took the first day steadily, enjoying glorious views, meeting other riders, stopping occasionally for snacks and photos.
We caught up with the rest of the ‘team’ for lunch at the Royal Oak, Cromhall and the weather improved as the day went on and it ended in sunshine at the Holiday Inn Express in Gloucester. We had done 47 miles, a few detours from the route adding some extra miles. Other riders had done up to 60 miles that day due to problems following the route using their Garmins! We settled into our rooms, bikes and all, then met up for a lovely evening at the Bumble Bee restaurant next door.
Now the day I had been half dreading, the long ride to the finish. John set off early to get some photos of riders on the route. I joined Simon, Mandy and the other Stourbug riders and we set off. The Garmins were much more accurate today and the route easier to follow. The weather was glorious and we sailed along. There were several hills but with Si leading our pace was maintained and we helped each other when our legs complained and our hearts thumped.
We stopped several times for snacks and drinks. Other riders overtook us then we overtook them, sometimes we rode as one big peleton, or with small groups of riders or just as Stourbugs. We rode through Upton on Severn where there was a carnival, music and Morris dancers. We had a lunch stop after about 32 miles in Pershore and set off for the finish. I became more excited as we neared 40 miles, then 45 and soon 55, I realised that I was not only going to finish the ride but enjoy it all the way. Stratford was bustling as we rode into a busy, bank holiday town.
There were bands playing and thousands of people. We rode up to the finish and collected our medals and certificates. It was over so quickly! On the Sunday we had ridden 63 miles at an average pace of 13.2 mph! I hope to ride the Macride Tour again next year and have now signed up for my first 100k audax ride in June!