On Sunday 20th August 2017, I took on my 9th challenge for Step Into My Shoes, taking part in my first 100 mile Yorkshire Lass Sportive.

What a specular day it was, sat on my bike for 7 and half hours! It was an early start as we set off to Thirsk, North Yorkshire at 6am. I was feeling relatively calm and excited, with a little mixture of nerves.

We arrived at the Carlton Lodge Activity Centre at 6.45am. Having registered the day before it meant I didn’t have to rush and it gave me time for those last minute preparations. Many women with their bikes were turning up all shapes and sizes. Some people on their own, others in club colours riding with their friends.

At 7:35am, here I was at the start line, the second group waiting to set off. We were given our safety instructions by a friendly volunteer. 3…2…1 and we were OFF! Only 103 miles were in my way to the finish line. Sounds a long way right? Well it was, but a journey was about to unfold.

I set off with good pace, pacing at an average of 14mph and riding with others around me. Adrenalin pumping, I began to settle into a rhythm that felt comfortable for my bum cheeks and me. Before I knew it in under 45 minutes I had reached my first feed station in Northallerton, where a smiley face, Nat, met me. Only stopping for 5 minutes to refuel, I set off again. 15 miles down, 88 miles left to go!

The next 17 miles was longer with 2 tough climbs to tackle. I remember turning around one bend and being faced with a monstrous hill that meant me going into my hardest gears, saddle out of seat and going for it! There were some volunteers supporting the riders from the very top, as I cycled past them, they congratulated me. My response… ‘Chuffin’ ‘ell tha wa ard!’ However, I powered through. An hour and a half later from the first stop I had made it to my second feed station. Inhaling the food provided, I was feeling good and ready for the next section. I took this challenge on in segments making it easier to process mentally.

33 miles down, 70 miles left to go! As I left Kilburn, we followed a route taking us under the white horse! The scenery was beautiful passing through the North York Moors. Up ahead came the 100 and 60 mile split! No going back now –  I proceeded onto the 100 mile route. Knowing I had one last climb to beat, I was anticipating when I would be faced with it! Cruising through the Howardian Hills, an area of natural beauty, the route started to ascend to the last and final climb! Digging deep, with not many other riders close by, I grit my teeth and climb. When you think you’re nearly to the top, it just keeps on climbing! Telling myself I can do this, I battle through the physical and mental battle! Finally, I can see the end in the distance! I speed up the legs and go for it!

After a long and hard 18 miles I reach my third feed station at Crayke – very glad to see Nat waiting for me! Having cycled for 35 miles on my own, it was becoming a mental battle and less enjoyable. I stayed at this feed station for a good 20 minutes, consuming a well-earned bacon butty and a coffee. 53 miles down, only 50 miles left to go!

I set off for the 4th segment of the cycle. Along the way I came to a cross road where two ladies were waiting to cross. They ask how I am and how I’m feeling. They could probably see by my face that I wasn’t having much fun! They tell me to join them for the rest of the ride and I jump at the bit. Slightly nervous they were a lot faster than me I gave it a go! These lovely ladies names were Jo and Helen. Chatting away and taking in the scenery, I feel revived and motivated again, like Jo and Helen had kick started the car! I felt happier in the ride and confident. Having mastered the technique of group riding we moved swiftly in transition, at a good pace we race onto Boroughbridge.

The three of us fly into feed station 4! Feeling good and raring to go, 78 miles down only 25 to go! We were off after 15 minutes and powered though the last segment!

93 miles down and only 10 to go! Two Yorkshire lasses were waiting for us at Rainton with jelly babies, water, and lots of food! We take a mini break to stretch our legs for the final 10 miles.

We set off again, but I knew this time the end would be the finish line. We cycled through Topcliffe and then onto Carlton Miniott. Jo screaming out we had reached our century!  Fist pumps in the air we press onto the finish line.

Before we know it we see the finish line sign, turning left we see everyone applauding and congratulating us! We cross the line in 7 hours 36mins. What a ride, what an experience, What a journey! I loved it!