August 21, 2016, by David Greenaway

Nottingham Life Cycle 6 – Day 2 Victoria to Exeter

What a start to the day. After the Stewards Enquiry we almost had the first disqualification from the Decomnium.

It turns out that Sara has electronic gears. So, quite aside from the physical effort avoided from not manually making 30-60 gear changes an hour in this terrain, she avoids the mental stress of having to decide when to make them. What an advantage. The judges did seriously consider disqualification, but they are a very magnanimous bunch and settled on a ten point deduction instead.

Pic 5 - Electronic GearsNice bike Sara, but it may have cost you a shot at glory.

Over the next few days I will introduce new team members, so let’s stick with Sara, to help put the disappointment of that points deduction to one side.

Sara is an Associate Professor in Life Sciences, and re-joined the University in 2006, having completed a PhD with us in 1999. Her passion is spiders and she is involved with the University’s ‘SpiderLab’. Whilst completing our cycling challenge, she has set herself the challenge of finding a new spider every day as we traverse the UK’s micro climates. It’s a bit like having our very own explorer with us.

Today’s Life Cycle miles were in honour of Wilma McGeachy,  who was Marion’s closest friend; and Pat Huxley, nominated by Susan for the community engagement work she undertakes.

Day 2 was tough, almost 90 miles of unrelenting up and down, in very difficult weather conditions. As on Day 1, we spent most of the day as three groups of four, in my case with Susan, John and Steve Wright (aka Stefano).

Pic 2 - The Monster HillIt was mainly dry as we picked our way around Bodmin (on a monster of a hill) and north to Camelford. From there we climbed up over the moor to Holsworthy. It was however, very windy. That said, since the forecast just a couple of days ago was posting wind speeds in the mid-40s, mid-20s (and predominantly tail winds at that) felt welcome.

The route was very pretty, with lots of late summer colour, and the entire team met at the King’s Arms for a very welcome lunch.

Conditions changed dramatically after Holsworthy. The storm which was forecast arrived, with higher wind speeds, which changed direction quite a bit, and driving rain. Horrible basically, requiring extra vigilance on rapid descents. And because there was nothing between Holsworthy and Crediton, we had to settle for filling up on biscuits, bars, crisps and sweets from the back of the van for our second stop [pic 4].

Pic 3 - John's LunchBut after 87 miles and more than 6,000 feet of climbing, we were all in at the Hall of Residence at Exeter University by 1830.

Specialism two of the Decomnium was completed today: the Team Pursuit from the Victoria Inn in Victoria, to the King’s Arms in Holsworthy; 45 miles without a break, over demanding terrain. Happily I found myself as part of the team which arrived first, with Susan, John, and Stefano. There was another 40 points up for grabs. Since there were no material Barrett-Jagger adjustments to be made, that meant 10 points each.

But two other Decomnium matters to report. First, Doug was deducted 10 points. He set off with what became the winning team, then bailed out less than half way through the pursuit. Doug, I know in the Olympics a rider can drop off in the pursuit, but that’s in the last lap, not less than half way through. The upside however is that you are now a named entry on the leader board, which looks like this:

Pic 1 - Weather ForecastDavid 29
Susan 17
John 10
Stefano 10
Karen 7
Marion 7
Sara -10
Doug -10

Everyone else zilch

So, one of the pre competition favourites is in negative territory, and I’m still holding the yellow jersey.

The other Decomnium matter saddens me to report. It seems that some who were unhappy about the judges’ decision to take age and infirmity into account on awarding points for the T4 on Day 1 are insinuating malpractice, suggesting that Honest Paul may have taken a bung.

Pic 4 - Afternoon Break 2And their evidence for this? A picture taken (without our knowledge) of me handing over £80 in cash to Paul at Newquay Airport before the competition began. But, that was because Paul had paid for my bike service at Sid Standard’s in Beeston whilst I was on leave. That is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I think it is just mind games to try and put me off my stride.

And to our first recognitions:

Team of the Day: not the victorious Pursuit Team, but our Support Team who were pulled around in very difficult conditions, and had to deal with Kate’s shredded tyre, the failure of Karen’s gears, and dispensing of rations / re-provision of clothing. Well done Louise, Paul, Gary and Ian.

Fact of the day: the average life expectancy of a female tarantula is 10 to 20 years; that for a male is 6 months. Who would want to be a male tarantula?

Surprise of the Day: Doug walked up a hill (is the pressure getting to him?).

Quote of the Day: plenty of material, but nothing that is printable.

Pic 6 - The Pink BikesFor obvious reasons, pink has been a theme of this Life Cycle, with riders outdoing each other in pink accessories to complement their pink shirts. There is Andy with his pink handlebars, Steve with his pink shorts, and much more. But Louise and Paul went a step further in actually sourcing pink bikes.

Well washing is all done, in the time honoured fashion of stamping around on it in the shower; and partially dried by rolling it in towels and stamping on it. I am still a day ahead in kit readiness, but hoping for better drying conditions than a heated towel rail at Chippenham tomorrow.

So 134 miles completed, with our first 100+ mile day tomorrow. I hope it is dry.

Professor Sir David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 6