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Stage 6 and Information point then the Finish 50 km (30 miles)

                                                                                257km  Malmesbury to OXFORD  308km

Check point was another Service Station  here I decided on a good wash to get salt off me, I don’t think the attendant could believe his eyes me walking taking my top off filling sink then  head in washing my hair to get the days grime and Salt off me, then putting my head under the hand dryer to dry off , then back to my coffee with extra sugar in, rest of Gammon joint …
Back to the job in hand .. Team orders was to ride a nice even easy pace to enjoy the last stage as we had time in hand making sure we found the information point, as if we would miss it with Alan and Stuart both doing navigation, I soon got into a even rhythm, now switched back on feeling fresh I was on a roll now taking it all something I was not able to do in early part of event as was in survival mode.. Love it when a plan comes together ..

It was a nice cool evening wind had calmed down still behind us no rain what more could we ask for in later stages, this was possible the best stage for me, about an hour into ride I remember Andrew coming along side me asking was I on a date or something as I was again riding with the pack and at the front smiling and first up most of the hill sections setting an even if not strong pace,

I explained I knew my legs this was an endurance event sometimes… slow can be fast …..

  We (Alan/Stuart) found the Information point, then rode on now heading for Oxford, I have to say it was a bit of gut pull seeing post saying Oxford right turn and us having to go straight on, we then entered Oxford at opposite end to finish so had fun riding through town centre to the finish as the party GOers  where heading from the pubs to night clubs been asked can we have a go mate, but not sure the girls in heels would of manage so keep going but what a refreshing sight for are tired eyes which I think revived us all for final few miles to the  Pear tree park and ride FINISH ..
I then re started my Garmin watch knowing the battery would have enough to get satellite signal  to log end let it run a minuet before switching off
That’s the Dean 300 done in 18 hours and 52 minuets including stop time and for me walking time ..

Total distance Andrew had clocked up on event was 310.6km (191 miles)
Big thanks to all Carl, Andrew, Stuart and Alan for dragging me around 5 of the 6 stages..

The Dean 300km
I was asked to do a report on this Challenge, it’s a long time since I been asked to do something like this, last time I did a report I was bloging for Brathay.

Start 06:00                                                           0km Oxford to Stow 44km (27Miles)

This Started in the car park at Oxford near the Travlodge where we had stopped Friday night, team photo then off we go all egger to get going the weather was not looking to good, overcast and windy, we soon realized we would be cycling into the wind, I was having issues with my Gamin as it started to tell me to u turn 10 miles in, so decided on safe option to reboot it,

This was my first riding on my ElliptiGO at such a distance, I had done a 200km ride in February with Chris which went well, but this goes into a different ball game when I think about it, rarely do I drive my car 300km. 300km sounds ok and a large figure but sounds even more daft 185 miles. I compare doing this event and others to follow like I do on marathon running, forget the distance just switch the mind to the off setting for the distance and work for the markers, in this event it’s the check points and something I find hard doing is the information points, these are specific points you have to stop and note things like post box times, the distance to a village on a sign post at a junction (get them wrong and you screwed it).

On this event it would be different as there was 6 of us on Elliptigo's team banter started form the off as we had Team Elliptigo Preston, My self Chris and Andrew, then for the Southner's was Team Shires as Stuart called them with Alan and Carl

this worked  giving me route but somehow turned it back to miles, which made it only doing half a job as route details was in km, but I had the map and my watch had Km on, now we was all in nice rhythm swapping places and chatting getting to know each other,  I my self found the weather playing with my head as I don’t do cold wind and rain so I was so happy to see first the check point a Petrol station.

Stage 2       57 km (35 miles)   

45km Stow to Newent 102km

While at check point having a coffee I commented on the hill to be told that was a warm up the next section has MORE hills in, Stuart gave word time to move on, off we go the weather on this section took a turn for worse throwing some hail mixed with the rain at us we then hit the hills, I  realized not looking at the profile was a big mistake as I always put Oxford as flattish WRONG, the hills started to appear as did the Quads feeling like they wanted to explode, I decided on the hill sections to ride from the back and save my legs telling the rest to stay on pace and catch them up on the descents not wanting to slow any one down, this seemed to work, the next check point  started to appear on Gamin screen the little flag was such a great sight this lead us to a Co-Op in Newent.
All I thought was 2 down next is half way, Chris and I agreed it was not fun and it could only improve I then re fuelled water, Coke and  nothing better than chunk of Gammon as well as other nibbles   .

    102km Newent to Chepstow 151km

Alan, Like Stuart was the key masters of these events they had it down to a T reading map notes and following Garmin info gave the call time to move on, we set off as ordered , 5 miles in Alan informs me the main hill are in this section, I made comment of such joy, the rest of the team was pulling me along I felt, as we was going through the forest of Dean (are the name of the event)  Stuart came along side me explaining how beautiful it was and to take in the scenery, I laughed Yeh OK what ever, as my legs continued to argue with me my head questioning this, the only thing I thought was next is half way mark its then home ward bound the wind should be behind us but knowing my luck this weekend we would be in a vortex and wind will be blowing in are faces all the way home, but then again we on downward numbers.

The later part of this section became a sad part as Chris had  informed us he was cramping up badly   in his calf's, continuing on like we all would, trying to work through it, the cramping became worse making riding painful for him, he continued on with us telling saying if we broke away not to stop as when he go into Chepstow he would be getting train calling it a day, we rode into town with Chris behind as we exited the town up a rather steep accent (not quit the words I used at the time) this is the point I left Chris, not the best feeling but we had to continue on. Going over the Seven bridge  was awesome the feeling riding along on the bridge with wind BEHIND me , but having to shut Chris out at same time, I decided play with camera as we rode, I was fortunate to have put camera back on its mounting plate as exiting other side back into England a side wind came picked me and Elliptigo up and launched me 6 inches to the side Into the service station for refuel as this was going to be a longer stop to have sit down meal. .. Burger king ??? ..

This we all set off  clear sky no rain or drizzle Andrew Carl Stuart and Alan looking fresh I my self found the wind behind fantastic but could not decide which was best thing about it, the relief or the help it gave us, I knew all the enjoyment would end it could not last then half way along this stage  as the light started to fade a incline that went for ever and had us all working the low gears,

are well its Food, fat, protein, salt big caffeine fix what more could we ask for, we ate all talking about the ride back, don’t worry Shane hills are not as bad going back and you have wind behind, trying to cover the loss to the team.
Time to move on..

 I had to get off as I watched the rest power up it knowing if I kept on I could of made it up but some times its better to go the slow way save my quads, I then caught them back up on the flat we then went into  Malmesbury .. YES 4 down 2 to go is all I thought while we drank coffee, Carl was so pleased he had to have two cups..
As it was now going dark team call was made to put lights on also static setting making riding behind easer the uk allows flashing which is hard and iterating in France on the PBP its compulsory to be fixed beam of light

Stage 3….. 49 km (30 miles)

                       151km Chepstow to Malmesbury  201km

Stage 4 …..49 km (30 miles)

Stage 5 and Information point  56 km (35 miles)

                                                                               201km  Malmesbury to Membury  256km
We  set off lights burning bodies tiring still on target all I was thinking  should I plug Garmin in or wait till next stop, to late we was rolling now, I may regret that ….
I was to pre occupied with thoughts On my way home now, this turned out to be a very testing stage for me as now riding in the dark on the flat I was in the pack riding with ease but the big hills had payed there price on my legs on the hard accents, again we hit a steep incline  low gear was needed  off they rode up into the sky of darkness red lights fading away above me a cyclist passed me grunting and groaning with words of support for me just before the crest I remounted rode the rest of the way up then down other side, in the darkness on my own I knew I was on the flat but felt I was going nowhere it was so hard to peddle I even got off to check my wheel/ brakes was not binding by lifting bike and spinning wheels as I re mounted the wind then paused for a moment I then relized how strong it was at this point, so  you just have to paddle, I also did not now due to the dark ness it then went straight back up again, this ate into my legs, when I made it to top Garmin on bike … yep was on LOW BATTERY, so  quick look for lead could not find it, I decided than empty kit out waist time ride on, I then rode on my own hoping to regroup or tag on some one, next watch said LOW BATTERY I continuing on every time my wrist vibrated another Km done I noted it to my self as if mapping fails I would have to get my route notes out and track rest of ride by them to the information point, road sings and markings suddenly came so important to me thinking back to other day when I prepared them trying to see on map the exacta point for information point, Garmin map now switched off we riding on gut feeling and km's on watch, all the time my mind asking daft questions are we going right way, I had not rode this far to give up now, I knew keep calm in my head, on a slight down hill a left turn appeared, gut feeling turn now I was going to turn then a sign  on the other side of the road said Town centre, I decided against my better judgment  to go into town unsure why I don’t know but did, what a wonderful sight 4 Elliptigo's and riders  Andrew  Carl, Alan & Stuart looking my way, they was at info point, we then rode back up the incline and turned where my gut feeling was going to turn, meaning I would have been on right route but miss the info point out and they would of the caught me up.. we rode on to the next and final check point going along I settled back down into rhythm