Summary I got there a day late after the party. I really did not care by then - I went as fast as I could considering my background, training, experience and approach.
We had a late finershers party 2 days later
Approx 178 started, 38 got there for the party on Saturday night 70 approx DNFd 70 approx got there late
Everyone agreed it was the hardest yet, and harder than anticipated. Assietta and the days of headwinds across France, Italy, Albania, Greece and Turkey were not expected and contributed to the DNFs
I am very proud to have finished. I had a few dark moments, and was in pieces in days 2-6, but I never really thought I would not make it. I just thought I would need to go slower. Stubbornness I guess
After effects and thoughts
I slept a lot the following couple of weeks.
My little fingers are still tingly, but are getting better - an improvement from them being numb when I finished, (I have swollen palms / compression of the ulnar nerve). I was on the tri bars as much as possible,but i obviously ride badly on the hoods I felt really lethargic / down / maybe depressed over the last week or so. I got home 4 days after I finished, and was straight back into work. Initially it was OK, but I have this sense of loss...... Its hard to get going again - I am finally back on the bike 3 weeks after finishing.
I have Ironman Majorca in 4 weeks time
Do I recommend this to anyone else - yes. Its hard on so many levels, (physical, mental) but its doable. Just be really aware of what you are getting into - a 300k ride should not phase you.
Will I do it again - probably. If it goes somewhere else than Istanbul, then probably definitely
What will I change
Carrying a bivvy bag / sleeping bag / sleeping mat is heavy, but it gives such confidence that I can sleep anywhere if I need to hotels - i would use them again. i can eat, wash me and kit, recharge stuff etc. However, I need to be way more efficient
buy breakfast on the way to the hotel / get a pack lunch made
eat, wash kit, pack bike again
go to sleep, (10 oclock)
wake 6 hrs later (4), and leave (4:15), eating as I go
Instead, I ate, did stuff and got to sleep at 12-1. woke at 6:30, breakfast at 7, packed bike and away at 8:00 - 8:30. Getting up early means I get another 4 hrs a day....... I am a night owl which is OK in western europe - its a bit tougher in SE europe as the dogs freek me out
10k, 5, 3, 1, 200m...then there's the cafe. I stop, see a bike and go to park mine but Karen appears. A sweaty hug. (me not her), a kiss and a hello. She takes my bike. I get a round of applause from the 20 odd gathered riders, a handshake and congratulations as my brevet card is signed
That was my ride done. a low key finish totally in keeping with the whole race, with my fellow riders then getting me a seat etc. The food, beer, telling of tales, and congratulating more finishers. Soon it's half past 2 and time to head to bed. The hotel is 10k away. I ride as it's easiest. They let me into the hotel, I shower, use room service to eat more, then sleep
I had a decision to make The last 30k of the D020 on my route has been destroyed by 2 massive building projects to the NE of Istanbul - a new bridge and a new airport
The shoulder had either disappeared, or was full of gravel, and the roadworks were apparently really scary. However the trucks were not on the road at 10pm on a sunday, and the traffic was intermittent, but fast. I had a suggested alternative route posted by a Turkish rider, although he had not ridden it.
I got to the decision point, and turned off the D020. It started as a reasonable single lane road, then hit a town that I enjoyed fighting through, then onto a very busy 3 lane highway, but again with a good shoulder. Then I got to the turning off this onto a 10k section taking me back to the D020 and on to the final lovely forest section into Istanbul. The organisers were very proud of this last 20k,as it’s picturesque, (relatively) quiet and safe and also downhill. However the 10k section leading to it was unlit, on minor roads through a couple of villages and bits of forest. The advice I had read about dog attacks suggested not riding at night, or if you do, stick to main roads…… oh dear
It started well. Quiet, up and down, a fast decent into a village, up and out.. I turn the backlight of the garmin onto permanently on so I can see the corners coming up…
Then a flat, I head into a hairpin, and I catch sight of some eyes reflecting in my helmet mounted light. Lots of eyes Furious barking erupts, and a dog on my left takes off and matches my pace, snapping and barking 2 ft from my front wheel. He has mates on my rear wheel. I can hear their claws on the tarmac. Holy fuck I ride harder, he just runs faster I shout, yell, tell him to fuck off
He does eventually as I pull away. 200 m on, I throttle back a bit. Round another corner, I approach another left hander, and I hear baying on the woods to my left. Its like something out of hound of the Baskevilles. I hear crashing in the undergrowth to my left. It's sounds like a pack of wolves closing in. I am seriously shitting myself, going as fast as I can, uphill around hairpins with no idea what's around the corner. Get me out of here! 2 k later I am spent - absolutely nothing left. A car comes the other way, giving me temporary respite, (car = no dogs). The next pack can have me….. The garmin shows a main road 1k away... I descend to it in silence and peace.
Onto the lit D020 then off to a town. I love the light. I seriously consider stopping at a cafe/ bus shelter and see the night out here 20k from home. However, a couple of dogs come barrelling down a minor road, and encourage me on. Out of the town I go, but it's a big single lane road, and well lit. Let's give it a go. The fences on either side are also encouraging as is the number of cars coming the other way, so even when the lights go I continue However I have lost the love of the forest at night. I am waiting for dogs. I see 2 but I am straight past them and just get a growl, a yip and that's it. I am on edge whenever the road heads up. When I start t descend down towards istanbul, I feel relieved I cruise the last 10k in traffic and changeable road surfaces on the Bosphorus. This is easy late Sunday night traffic at 12am so as quiet as it ever gets here.
10k, 5, 3, 1, 200m...then there's the cafe. I stop, see a bike and go to park mine but Karen appears. A sweaty hug. (me not her), a kiss and a hello. She takes my bike. I get a round of applause from the 20odd gathered riders, a handshake and congr
I stopped and put my high visibility tabard on, helmet light on, the last of my chamois cream.
Ok ready to go for the last 100k
I then discovered what the people of istanbul do on hot August weekends. They go to the forest for the day, have barbeques, them leave for home once evening comes.
I stopped for more supplies in the first village I had seen in 40k. I moved into doritos. This was my last day so my usual habit of eating real food seemed to desert me and I ended up fuelling the whole day on coke, icecream and crap snack foods. Not recommended.
As I ate my doritos, darkness fell, and I watched the stream of cars heading south tailing back from the village It took me a couple of minutes to cross the road when I got going again. I got lost immediately on leaving the village. I followed my garmin line instead of the signposts, then immediately hit a 3 lane highway, on the wrong side of it .. Wtf..? I figured it out eventually.. My single lane road had changed at the end of the village becoming the highway. I crossed over, heaving the bike over the 3 ft crash barriers, then crossing to the shoulder. Yay great road, let's go More rolling hills, now in darkness, but I felt safe The traffic was now intermittent, a pulse of traffic, just the occasional lorry / tipper truck then nothing