“My name is Debbie and I have always trained in some way or another from running to rowing, hill walking and swimming.
I worked in a spin studio for a few years and believed I could cycle without too much training due to the amount of classes i was teaching…
I started to commute on my hybrid bike and decided wicklow 200 was gonna be no problem to me in 2018.
With very little outdoor training and no advice on clothes, food, hydration etc i took on the 100km challenge and literally fell off the bike…twice.
In 2019 I decided that the challenge is not going to beat me. I joined a group of athletes and trained with them and learned so much.
I learned there is more to cycling than cycling, how to clip into your cleats and out, vital if you dont want to fall off your bike on that old long hill again. I was thought how to fuel myself and the essentials of hydration, what to wear and what not to wear, chamois cream definitely being one that is so essential.
I booked in to do Wicklow 200 in Feb 2019 and believed its miles away i will have plenty of time to train.
Alas the weather doesnt always agree with my plans. Suddenly its June and the furthest ive done on the bike is 120km, oh the fear is real now.
The night before the cycle was horrendous, every time i closed my eyes i thought of the challenge ahead and sleep ran away.
5am I may as well get up, text the training buddies, some have lots more experience on the bike than me but sleep evaded them too, so its not just me . Adrenaline and excitement will get me through apparently.
I arrive at the venue at 0605hrs, ready to go, Im gonna try hit the road early see if i can get the extra time because I am sure I am gonna be struggling to cross that line at 8pm tonight. I need every min available to me.
We set off with the bikes weighing double with all the food, drink and extra clothes Ive to bring. unfortunately the weather is hit and miss.
Old long hill and I am at the top I made it, no walking this year for me, no falling off the bike either, okay maybe the training has paid off.
Some people are walking and everyone is shouting encouragement, no one is putting anyone down.
Some real strong engines pushing those bikes up the hills and as they whizz by me they tell me how well I am doing, just dig in keep it going, grind away… you go girl, its so good to hear these words.
we get to Roundwood, and now we have to decide… Laragh is next are you doing 100km or taking on the 200km….fear and excitement is mixed.
I feel okay, I feel more than okay, I believe i can do this.
Wicklow gap lets be having you, oh my god is it too late to do the 100km? dont look up just keep going, someone tells me dont worry girl, what goes up must go down,, you will love that part. wheeeeeeee yep thats fun.
On the way to baltinglass I am at 58km and alone on the road my head is playing games with me, telling me how many hours I have left on the bike, and I have to admit now that Have an emergency driver on standby at home willing to come to save me from the feared bonk.
Suddenly a peleton goes by, and they have seen me, and seem to know that I have lost the will to live , they get me on, and I get nicely pulled along to the first rest stop. 80km..
All right I have to re-think this method of cycling, I have to break it down into 40km splits and not think so far ahead.
Slieve Maan and Shay Elliot seemed not so daunting when i did them in training, but then again I did them on fresh legs.
Sun is burning and I am hot hot, I think I have seen a snail pass me by. I seem to be getting passed a lot but not doing much overtaking myself.
Okay but I am doing it, I havent called the standby driver yet..
I am at the second food station and its hail stones, full change of top clothes and I am fed and watered and found the will to carry on, its merely 60km from here. I think that I have actually managed to eat more kcals than my app is telling me I am burning, but its great that its keeping me going.
We have reached greystones and the smallest of lifts in the road feel like a full blown Everest mountain. I think I can honestly count each muscle in my body as one by one they shout out to me to stop, but the mind is strong and we are doing this with or without the consolidation of the quads…
Omg its king of the hill, it seemed so much harder last year but this year all I feel is elation, I know I am close only about 2 or 3km away from doing it.
And thats it I have crossed that line and I cant believe that I just spent 9hrs 20 mins cycling (thats just the cycling not the rest stops)
Now I have just had the nicest cup of coffee ever… and I am wet, the bike is so dirty, I am totally wrecked but above all this I am so excited.
I go home and first thing I do after a nice warm shower? – I go online and start looking for the next cycle challenge, I think that I am hooked. I have been bitten by the cycle bug.
But first I will see how that feeling is tomorrow, when getting downstairs will seem a much bigger challenge than 200km in the saddle”.