Day 1: TORQ-EC

On the first day of the TORQ Enduro Challenge (in association with Bryton GPS), Lydia waves goodbye to TORQ HQ and amazingly makes it to Birches Valley MTB centre at Cannock Chase.

If you want to know what this is all about, you’ll need to click on the following link. All is explained:

Ok, so we’re a day behind (this all happened yesterday), but there have been a few technical hitches, so ‘Day 2’ will be published tomorrow morning and then we’ll be back on track with the day’s summary hitting the website on the evening of the day’s riding (well that’s the plan anyway – it depends how much energy Lydia’s got left to type).

So, on day 1, having prepared ‘almost’ everything the night before, Lydia and I awoke early and jumped in the car to get to TORQ HQ for a 7am start. It was the first time Lydia’s been early for anything in her life and we got rolling at 6:50am! This included the melodrama of the pre-departure i-phone photoshoot too.

I rode with Lydia for the first couple of hours, because I live here and guiding her on the first part of her journey was the least I could do. I left her at the bottom of the Stiperstones and headed back to work. The Stiperstones National Nature Reserve is magnificent and so is the Long Mynd, the next lump that Lydia would have to navigate and having spoken to her, these were the highlights of the day’s riding. I can vouch for that, because I struggle to find anywhere more beautiful in the UK and I travel the length and breadth of it most weekends.

Apart from the beauty of the Stiperstones and Long Mynd, here’s what else Lydia had to say about the day:

“It was great to ride with Matt first thing, because it was the only bit of company I would have for the day and it was great to be guided along the little lanes just before the first off road section. The Stiper Stones and Long Mynd were amazing and definitely the highlight of the day. Beyond Church Stretton, as I attempted to navigate my way across Wenlock Edge, I ran into problems and had to deviate from my set course. I think the problem with some of the rural areas that have a low population density is that the bridleways don’t get used very often and farmers seem to get away with blocking rights of way. These are issues that don’t occur in areas where population densities are higher or in National Parks. This lead me to consider that my attempt this week will not be ‘official’ and the route will need to be tweaked.

There were some great flowing sections though between Much Wenlock and Cannock and I had the wind on my back, which helped hugely. I think that one of the advantages of travelling from West to East is that generally riders partaking in this challenge will benefit from a tail wind. The weather was unpredictable though to say the least – when the sun was out it was ok, but the showers of rain and hail made it feel like winter. I was really pleased with my progress though and I’m looking forward to pushing on tomorrow”.

I think it’s incredible that Lydia made it all the way to Cannock Chase and was riding for just under 12 hours. The rules state that a rider cannot ride for any more than 10 hours in any 24 hour period, but without complicating things too much, Lydia and I had agreed that the rules should be flexible enough to allow a rider to spend more hours on the bike on occasion as long as the ‘average’ hours spent on the bike do not exceed 10 per day. Therefore, Lydia’s going to have to have an easier day somewhere along the line.

What did become clear as you will have noticed from Lydia’s comments is that this ride had actually become a recognisance mission as opposed to a record-breaking attempt. The idea was to have Lydia at the head of the leader-board and for you guys to challenge her record, but there will be changes to the route before we officially lay down the gauntlet, so I think Lydia might have to do it again (we won’t tell her yet)? I’m definitely doing it in 2014 – it’ll be a great challenge to aim for personally.

If you’ve been following these last couple of articles, you’ll have noticed that I mentioned that Lydia will be dressed with a Spot Satellite Checker, so you will be able to follow her progress from Day 2. This spot checker will send a GPS signal every 10 minutes as she ventures from Cannock Chase. To view Lydia’s progress, check out this link:

Many thanks to Bryton GPS for sponsoring the TORQ Enduro Challenge: