Race Report: Rourkie’s Cat and Fiddle Challenge 2016

We’re off

The fundraising events are now firmly underway having ridden the Cat & Fiddle bike ride on Sunday 16th October. It’s great to have the first event under our belts after all the generous donations.

The Cat & Fiddle Challenge is organised by Brian Rourke Cycles, starting and finishing at his bike shop in Stoke-on-Trent and all proceeds going to Cystic Fibrosis Care. It was nice to kick-off the events supporting another worthy charity along with our own, it’s a very social ride and not timed so ideal given our current fitness levels!

We headed for Port Vale Football Club who were kindly opening their car park for free, we got there a little later than planned and ended up in the wrong car park, as we seemed to be parked next to a few of the players who were in for a Sunday session. Not too sure what they thought to Dave and I attempting to get changed in the car and avoid the rain, in an increasingly steamy 4×4, probably looked a bit odd. So we decided to head for the main car park and not risk being locked in at Port Vale! After getting my chain well and truly stuck in my cassette and sacrificing a sock to stop me being covered in oil, we set off for Roukie’s bike shop.

The tone for the day was set once again when we (following my widely known poor sense of direction) headed the wrong way out the car park so covered 3 miles getting to the start, just what we needed being slightly underprepared. Still more miles in the bag and makes for a good story.

The good news was that the registration was still open as we arrived 15 minutes late and the rain was beginning to ease up, maybe things were starting to go our way. That was until 5 minutes later when Dave fell over in the toilets and almost did the splits, luckily there was no lasting damage. Maybe the Taekwondo flexibility is starting to pay off.

A sunny start…

We were enjoying the late start and nice weather after heavy rain all morning, the route was clearly sign posted although we did accidentally follow the signs for another event on the same day, luckily our sense of direction and the alarming pink arrows were suspicious enough to check with the guys up the road and we swiftly turn back.

We had a pretty good ride for the first 20 miles, enjoying the countryside, watching the miles tick by and approaching Macclesfield all ready to start the main event of the day. Having just started the Cat & Fiddle climb we were going pretty well until Dave punctured, luckily one of the support guys arrived within minutes who was sweeping the course – turns out we were the last two on the route! His track pump was much appreciated and as I sat eating watching Dave fix his puncture. You have to take the opportunity when you can 🙂

As we got rolling again the stop hadn’t done us any favours and the legs soon stiffened up, Dave started to get cramps to make matters worse. Turns out Imodium the day before a race isn’t a good idea! My ‘it makes for an interesting blog post’ obviously didn’t help cheer Dave up too much either…

Holding a steady pace we reached the top of the Cat & Fiddle and found the pub was closed, not that we had time for a sociable beer being the last on the course. There were some water bottles left for us and after a quick pit stop we flew down the descent which was much like an alpine descent which was great. Unfortunately I thought that after summiting the C&F it’s a roll down back to Stoke. That bit turned out to be very wrong as we optimistically headed towards Buxton thinking the hard work was done.

Don’t remember it being this hard?

Looking back at the profile now, I wish I’d looked closer beforehand as the majority of the climbs are in the second half and despite having both ridden it before, it seems we completely forgot this and could only remember the descents and great selection of cakes at the end.

We ploughed on and Dave struggled a little more with every climb as the leg cramps continued getting worse, this meant I could take it easy on the climbs which did me a few favours. There’s not much anyone can do for you when you’re struggling on a climb, I tried to ride on the front and use my considerably smaller frame to shelter Dave as best I could but I’m not the ideal lead out man for someone 1 1/2 times bigger than me. Good intentions were there though.

The route was still stunning and the miles continued to tick down, taking on board as many gels and bars we had with us. I was just hoping the volunteers hadn’t packed up and there would be a few slices of cake left. The late start wasn’t doing us any favours but we’d had the good weather so no complains from me.

Final push

We made it back through Leek and to within 10 miles of Stoke, so I knew we weren’t too far from the finish and there couldn’t be too many climbs left for us. Flying down any minor descents as best we could and grinding up a few more climbs we were soon enough back in familiar territory of where we’d been riding around to try and find the bike shop some 5 hours earlier.

As we rolled in past Roukie’s bike shop I was delighted that there were still people about, with the volunteers doing a great job many of them having been up since 5am. We were immediately offered a cup of tea, there were still 3 huge boxes of cakes left and better still sausage roles which were swiftly inhaled.

After a brief rest it was back to Port Vale, luckily following a few guys who had just finished too.

It’s great to have the first event in the bag after all the kind donations and it was a welcome reminder of how much training we need to put in for things to come next year! But looking forward to training for more events, telling our story and raising some much needed awareness and money for some of the great charities around related to stillbirth and supporting the people affected.

Thank you for reading and check back for updates soon 🙂

For Theo x


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