Home » Pan Celtic Race 2021

Pan Celtic Race 2021



A short introduction: My interest in Ultra Endurance cycling began in September 2016 when I first read of the Transcontinental Race and subsequently signed up for my first ultra, the Transatlantic Way Race of 2017, since then I have also ridden the Transatlantic Way race of 2018 and the Ultra Bike Tourmalet Pursuit of 2020. I reached the ripe old age of 62 just after the finish of this years Pan Celtic Race. I am writing from the perspective of an older rider.

Ageing is a curious thing as mentally my sense of self or felt identity has changed relatively little as I’ve aged; other than becoming more settled and secure in who I am. As I’ve aged I’ve become far less concerned about things like fitting in, behaving appropriately, or tolerating people I’d rather not spend time with!

Physically I feel fit and unencumbered by grumbling age related issues that many may suffer though I am aware that I’m not as strong as I was and that it takes me longer to recover from intense exercise or injuries. Conversely, I do seem to need less sleep. In terms of riding long distance I consider myself relentless rather than fast, I liken myself to one of those slow moving trucks you may pass on the motorway, only to pass once again after you’ve been to the services and had lunch. This was certainly my experience on the PCR, riders would pass me and then pass me again later after their feed and rest stops. Pretty much the only people I passed on the PCR were stopped!

I finished the full route, in just about one piece, in what I consider a respectable 25th place, due to managing my effort and keeping moving rather than from any particularly speedy riding. At 1.87m and 80kg I’m not a natural build for riding up hills fast, though I do love riding in mountainous terrain.

The PCR 2021 full route had a huge amount of elevation at 27,507m over 1995km derived mainly from rather short sharp 12-20%+ type gradients rather than long steady alpine style gradients. Certainly not the type of terrain that plays to my physical strengths.

I ride and train with a power meter, my FTP is hovering around 300w. In endurance events I target keeping all my efforts sub 300w and ideally sub 250w as I know that going into the red for any length of time has a big detrimental effect on my available power later on; big efforts on sharp climbs are liable to really slow my overall progress.

The PCR route from Plymouth through Cornwall, in particular, was brutal in this respect as it seemed almost every horrendous narrow back road climb in the county was included. Gradients were typically well above 10 or 12% and usually way more; gradients that required me, on a loaded bike, to frequently need to output well over 350w just to make progress. That’s deep into “red” territory or burning matches as it’s often termed. Burn too many matches on day one and things are liable to go wrong later in the race.

I know this from hard won experience on my first 2 TAW rides. My focus for the PCR was to manage my effort primarily so that I actually finished the race and secondly, as fast as I felt I could reasonably push.

The Gathering

A relatively short train ride from my home in Falmouth had me at Maker Heights for registration on the Saturday before the Sunday start. The buzz in the air was tangible, tension, excitement, trepidation, impatience. Riders of every variety wheeled their laden machines around chatting excitedly about what lay ahead, the weather forecast, equipment choices, sleep strategies, bike weight, clothing…

I met newcomer Dan Campbell as I was finding a pitch for my tent. This was Dan’s first ultra and his enthusiasm was infectious. As luck would have it, it turned out that my friendly rival, veteran ultra rider Mike Sheldrake, was also camped not far off and he duly regaled Dan and myself with some tales from his many adventures.

Next up Jason Black showed up, he’d already had a mission just getting here. Jason regaled then us with more tales from some of his adventures as well and we discussed our strategies and plans. Jason has a “media profile” as a highly experienced and accomplished athlete yet no baggage comes with that, Jason spoke with us casually with no front, as equals, together setting out on an adventure into the unknown. Kudos to that man.

I could sense Dan was in his element hoovering up this knowledge up and wondering evermore what lay ahead for him.

Bivi palace at Maker Heights

As I write this it strikes me that the great stories from these adventures are not the ones of everything running to plan but rather of the predicaments met and solved, of the random fortuitous encounters along the way. Typically, about how what went wrong was set aside or magically became right.

It’s a fine thing that these type of events are not all about winning as there can only ever be one first place. Everyone following is also winning in their own way. Ultra cycling really is life enhancing in every respect.

Pre race bivi

The weather was rapidly deteriorating and the idea of packing my tent and gear away wet on the morning of the race had very little appeal. I went and checked out the nearby concrete buildings that had once surrounded a large gun emplacement.

It was a bivi palace! Dry, open concrete shelters for your delectation. I packed my tent and set my race bivi instead, by morning the rain was torrential. Dan moved also and we shared the estate with several other riders including Bryn Williams and others whose names I do not recall. Into the evening riders gathered around the nearby camp fire and enjoyed the band. I prefer solitude ahead of one of these rides and turned in early to get as much rest as I could.

The Beginning

Heavy rain loomed on Sunday morning and steadily became persistent as the 10:00 start time approached. Just getting to the start had my warm dry wool encased feet soaked from the water that entered my shoes from around the cleats…it was to be some days before my feet were dry again.

Organiser Matt had decided that the rainy conditions didn’t suit the staggered start he’d planned and so a rescheduled group start was set for 10:30. It was somewhat comical as riders huddled under every available bit of shelter they could find. Finally Matt set us away with a rousing speech mimicking Aragorn from the Lord of The Rings as the final battle is about to commence.

Our clan was set free at last; faint hearted stand clear…

This is the first event I’ve ridden where the starting field hasn’t rapidly spread out, the narrow roads, relentless sharp climbs and torrential rain seemed to be keeping all but the very fastest quite closely packed together. It felt like many hours before I could simply relax into my own race.

I found the first 160km of the race in many ways the toughest.

Riding away from the temptations of home. Riders “Treats” thanks to my wife Ailsa ❤️

The route was brutal, taking in many of the narrowest, muddy, steep and slow back lanes that I’d typically avoid myself when riding in Cornwall, my home county. Add in the torrential rain and being surrounded and overtaken by other generally faster riders wasn’t aiding my mental attitude!

I knew that the only way I was going to make reasonable progress in this terrain was by not stopping. To this end I’m proud to say that I arrived where the route ran past my driveway and grinning wife after 9:32min with my Wahoo showing me as having paused for only 32mins since the start (You can thank my wife if you saw and helped yourself to the “treats” she put out for the PCR riders.)

I’d ridden the entire ride to this point fuelled by 8 Veloforte bars and one gel from one of their “Complete Kits”. The pausing came from road junctions, traffic, toilet stops, refilling my water bottles from someone’s conveniently placed roadside outside tap and a swift stop at the Spar in Playing Place to stock up for the night. Maintaining this level of moving efficiency for the entire race would be impossible, but it was a good start. In reality, I was under fuelled.

It’s true to say I felt knackered and a bit out of sorts, a part of me just fancied going home, having a shower, and snuggling down in the warm and dry with my loved ones, why on earth was I doing this to myself anyway?!

Top tip: When possible avoid ultras that pass by your house… it messes with your head! Needless to say I knew that stopping was not an option I could ever live with and I swiftly moved off onto very familiar roads before the cold had a chance to settle into my sodden body.

I also knew that after the Lizard section of the route that I’d be enjoying a stretch of much faster, easier riding and that the rain was due to abait, but still, riding the Lizard was no picnic with more slow, steep, undulating backroads the order of the evening once again. Arriving in familiar Gweek I was dismayed to find that we had to ride the ridiculously steep and rough central route out of the village. I’ve ridden this road once before just because it existed, once was enough😉

It was here that I gave my legs a rest and walked it, letting the young proud ones ride on slowly past me. I needed my knees for the whole race and the rest of my life, not just day one!

Marazion bivi spot
Jersey drying a bit maybe..

Where to stop for the night? I considered targeting Lands End but concluded that that could be really busy with riders and take me too long into the night.

My PCR sleep target called for a minimum of 3hrs as I know from experience that when I have less than this things start to go wrong, my whole body suffers and slows.

I decided on stopping at Marazion as I had a good idea of where I could bivi. (By the beach car park cafe) Day one had me just 234km into the route at a glacially slow average speed of 17.6km/h with 4,494m climbed, 7000cal burned. Veloforte bars where not really enough calories!! Eating enough on these things is a big logistical issue and as I often ride fasted in training I’m maybe a little too adept at plodding along under fuelled.

Mounts Bay dawn

At 05:48 day 2 commenced and I rode off towards Lands End in the rising sun, feeling pretty good but still damp. Damp was to become full wet again long before the day was done. I love the riding around the western tip of Cornwall and really enjoyed my cruise to a breakfast stop in St Just where some of the riders who’d past me last night also rolled in again. Sprits were pretty good all round and we soon went out separate ways at separate speeds to enjoy the rest of western Cornwall.

I mentioned earlier about my preferring to avoid the narrowest minor roads, this is because I find the, just too dangerous. On coming vehicles from around blind corners are a significant hazard and riding at a speed that mitigates this risk makes these roads very slow indeed. Day 2 saw me have my first near miss of the ride, on this occasion with an on coming farm truck. Emergency stops for both of us and I ended up lying against the hedgerow in the narrow space alongside the truck that was skewed into the other bank. Driver and I ended up laughing hysterically in relief that no harm had actually been done.

This shot of adrenalin kept me powered for a while but the experience also had me questioning the PCR routing choices and my level of risk aversion on these types of rides. Cycling is dangerous, managing that danger is quite a personal thing, this edition of the PCR was often directing me onto the narrowest roads and tracks that I wouldn’t personally choose to ride due to the many near misses I’ve had previously on such roads.

This was a new twist, I’ve never ridden an ultra before where I questioned the routing.

I’m not sure when the rain set in again in earnest but by the time I arrived at CP2 in Boscastle at around 16:30 I was tired, drenched and extremely glad of the hot mug of tea and slices of toast and peanut butter provided by organiser Matt.

Some riders were resting up there for the evening a few had arrived earlier, had showers and where now preparing to for the night shift. I wanted to keep making progress and not become too settled or seized up. Ride until dark and get a good recovery sleep in before day 3 was my plan…the rain persisted.

I was off again within the hour and bracing myself for more tough climbs that I knew were ahead; I set a rough target of Holsworthy for a feed and early finish for the day.

Holsworthy – a draughty bivi spot

Making it to Holsworthy I don’t actually recall what I had for dinner, I think it may have been fish and chips. Bivi spots weren’t readily apparent and I ended up in a Coop supermarket car park under a trolley store shelter, and was shortly joined by fellow rider Jack Tyler who bedded down in one of the other nearby trolley stores. Not the best bivi spots by any imagination as they are draughty and open to the elements at ground level.

Still, it was virtually dry, and I knew that I needed some good recovery time if I was to manage the rest of the ride without self destructing. Experience was paying off here, making it to the finish of one of these rides is as much about managing your effort as it is about putting in huge efforts. Day 2 had me riding a measly 218km and averaging only 17.2kph; you can tell that I needed a rest and that the roads were slow going.

I actually had a pretty good nights sleep and awoke a lot drier than I had been. I slept with my socks and merino jersey on in the hopes that I and my feet might dry out. This worked but my shoes remained far from dry so it wasn’t really a solution. Day three took me onto the faster terrain around Glastonbury and Stonehenge and I made better progress, it also mostly stopped raining!

Hippy caravans around Glastonbury. Hard to tell which were abandoned

The route took us on an off road track past Stonehenge and weirdly I was so focused on navigating this technical bit of riding that I didn’t even see Stonehenge! I fell off, unharmed, on one of the muddy sections but otherwise I quite enjoyed it.

At least I could see that no vehicles where going to fly around any blind corners and I actually past a couple of other riders for what seemed like the first time since this adventure had begun.

I’d not even looked at the tracker up to this point as I knew that doing so was liable to cloud my judgement about my need for rest and recovery. My wife suggested that I was lying somewhere around the top 30….ummm, early days yet. Day 3 had me ride a more respectable 280km at a whopping 18.7kph.

The Middle

Fellowship of the road. “Mighty” Mike “Shell” Sheldrake and I

Day 4 and I was into Wales and caught up with my friend and similarly aged, rival Mike Sheldrake who’d put in a whopping effort at the start but then been set back with stomach troubles and further delayed, somewhat amusingly, by inadvertently locking himself out of his hotel room minus his shoes. The remainder of the race had us criss crossing all the way to the finish.

At some point I’d had another very near miss on a narrow farm road, this time with a big tractor and trailer. Emergency stops for both of us with me once again ending up lying in the hedgerow in the tiny gap next to the vehicle.

Heck, I’m not into this…. PCR seemed to have me either grinding slowly up hills or endlessly braking going down them in order to keep me at a safer speed from which to deal with the mud, gravel, pot holes and blind corners.

Truth be told I really didn’t enjoy a lot of the riding, yes it was challenging, technical, testing stuff but I ride a road bike because I like the sensation of speed and swift progress rather than the challenge of riding a road bike on slow gravelly, twisty tracks and cycle paths.

This route reminded me of one of my early efforts routing with RideWithGPS where I’d set it to route for “Cycling”, as well you might. However, RWGPS’s “Cycling” option defaults to slow cycle paths, tracks and National Cycle routes rather than roads.

Still it was far from all bad by any stretch of the imagination and looking back now, I’m already remembering the good far more than the bad but I’m not at all sure I’ll be signing up for another edition if this route is representative of the type of roads we’re expected to ride.

On previous rides I’ve also had 34-36t grandad sprocket to use, here I was limited to a 34-34, an extra couple of teeth would have made a difference… I’d been riding up hills well in training so thought 34 would be fine…training is different😆.

One thing I have resolved to do is to add more custom cues to my route so that I actually know were I am beyond spotting road signs, I mean, how could I miss Stonehenge!

Many of the hills will have had names as well, I tend to just blindly follow the arrow on my Wahoo; somewhat oblivious to my wider whereabouts! Each of these ultra adds new learning and insight.

The glamour of sleeping rough

My next bivi stop was in the shelter of another supermarket. It’s strange the appeal that sleeping rough has for me on these things, its my escape from the usual trappings of life I guess a voluntary opt out from the normal.

I want self supported to almost mean self sufficient, finding shelter at the end of a long day on the bike is something I really look forward to and managing this process so that I stay time efficient and comfortable adds an interesting twist to the challenge.

To this end I can say the my choice to use just a half sized Klymic X-lite short matt as my mattress was not working out well, it felt little better than no mattress at all. The larger Klymic X-frame version that I had used previously (stolen along with my old bike) has a system for higher pressure inflation to supplement lung power, that makes for a lot more comfort. This piece of kit will be getting replaced.

Another technical issue since the start had been that my USB dynamo charger wasn’t working. This is a hassle if you’re planning on avoiding hotels as re-charging power banks is a bit slow and short refuel stops don’t allow for much.

Yet another reason not to be looking at the tracker; my phone was duly set to low power or airplane mode and very little used. I treated myself to my first sit down meal in Priddy and had a full farm shop farmers breakfast fry up whilst the welcoming and conveniently located bike workshop next door plugged my devices in to charge. Result!

Warm tarmac, fast drying. Oh for some dry feet!

Physically I was holding together pretty well, I had saddle sores but they were at a manageable level, my gloves had given me blisters in the wet but gloveless was working ok and thankfully I had no palsy or numbness issues in my fingers. Legs and knees were fine, feet…not so happy, they’d been constantly wet for days.

Finally, somewhere near Bristol and with some sunshine on offer, I made a lunch stop in a sheltered turning and set my socks out to dry on the warm tarmac and aired my sorry feet… oh the relief. Short lived though, more rain to come.

I was mostly sustaining myself on handy sized scotch eggs and pork pies with various bars adding sugary fuel alongside. High calorie, relatively nutrient dense, items that can easily be consumed whilst riding. Some hastily scoffed berries, juices and smoothies were also adding a few, much needed, micronutrients or so I hoped.

Once in Wales I was very happy to leave the urban sprawl of Newport behind and get into the Welsh countryside and thankfully the flat lands around Swansea where quiet in terms of headwinds, on many a day this could have been very different. My passage to CP2 is something of a blur now, I just recall, generally enjoying the riding more.

Other routing obstacles

I made CP2 around 01:00 on the Friday shortly after Simon and Callum and got my Brevet stamped by Pete Borlace for the last time before the finish. The three of us amused Pete with our dazed slow motion, feeding and organising of our stuff. It was taking me so long to think and do anything.

I unpacked all my layers and sleeping gear and laid it out across the tables to dry as best it could. Next up SHOWER…. I was so ready for a shower having not had one since the Saturday morning before the start! Eeeek… One slight downer though… no towels of course. I rather comically dried off standing between two hand dryers. Still I was at least clean and degreased again. A few hours in the snorry bunkhouse was my next luxury…a real bed was a treat even if it still meant using my less than fresh sleeping bag.

I soon forgot the snoring sounds coming from my roommates and probably added my own.

The Lock In

Before I’d turned in for bed Pete had announced that steep climbs were now a thing of the past and that the riding was easier from here on… He lied.

Maybe easier on a normal day but after five solid days on the road little was normal for me anymore and there were still plenty of hills greatly slowing my progress.

CP2 was a full pit stop with some clothes drying and a lot of toast eaten, tyres topped up, chain lubed, devices charges, and I wasn’t off riding again until a late 09:00. The flatter roads the day before had seen me ride another more reasonable 278km as opposed to the 210km of the day before that but still only at a very low average speed of 17.2kph. Fatigue had well and truly set in.

I quite like this uber tired delirious stage of one of these things as it’s when everything else fades from thought and the singular focus becomes simply making progress and finding food and shelter as required. Life stripped back to the bare essentials.

Late on Friday after a glorious ride through the Elan valley I made it to Rhayader for a kebab feast. I had earlier thought to bivi down by the lakes but with an absence of shops or food and, it seemed, a significant number of midges coming out for the evening I’d pushed on instead to find re-supply and higher midge free ground.

Rhayader delivered and after filling my self with obscene amounts of cheap protein rich meat I set about finding a bivi spot. Rolling in through an archway I found a dry, sheltered, covered, car port; best bivi spot so far!

I was up again at around 04:45 and packed away carefully and was all set to put in a good days ride. Problem! Turned out that the archway I’d rolled through was a gated entrance to the Inn car park and that this had been padlocked shut in the time since I arrived. I was trapped 😬

I must have spent over 30mins climbing walls and grovelling through undergrowth looking for a way out but the area was surrounded by the back gardens of terraced houses, I could hardly be knocking on peoples back doors at 05:00 am!

Google informed me that the Inn opened at 10:00… I couldn’t wait that long and it hardly seemed reasonable for me to phone and ask for release seeing as I was technically trespassing.

Escape stage 1
Escape stage 2






Escape remained my final viable option. I returned to study the gate. On closer examination I could see that there was a substantial gap horizontally between the top of the gate and the outer arch, room enough for me to climb over but what about the bike? I reckoned it could be done so I removed my bags to make the bike lighter and more manageable and hooked it onto the top of the gate.

I then climbed up and ever so carefully threaded the bike over the top, this was not such an easy task and had me contorted and breathing heavily. Impaling and damaging the frame on the gate spikes could mean ruin. Success! I felt quite satisfied…

If you get lost? Get un-lost! If you get locked? Get unlocked!

I pulled my bags through under the gate, loaded up and rode off relieved and mildly amused. This had been an entertaining problem to solve but also meant more time wasted race wise.

The glory of Wales
Amazing dam design








Saturday meant more beautiful Welsh scenery, quiet roads and some steep climbs that reduced me to walking on several occasions. My upper back and neck were beginning to grumble a bit and I found that I increasingly wanted to ride sat as upright as possible. Oh dear, not again…. neck issues have been a recurrent challenge for me on these adventures previously.

Still everything was still working, I was just getting ever slower making progress. My Saturday ride had an average speed of just 15.2kph. Come the evening I’d made it around Welshpool but again wanted to reach higher ground away from midges before stopping for the night.

The evening was closing in calm and partly cloudy, I envisaged camping out in silence under the stars. I made it back to the junction with the short route with no sign of ideal bivi spots I decided to head up the last bit up to the summit of Clipiau Duon for my starlit camp.

I arrived to find a bunch of characters making a right ruckus around some camper vans. Bugger! One of them spotted me.. “Is that another rider?” Turned out that these characters were actually Matt Ryan, media team and Jason Hayles! All noise was forgiven, burgers were shared, a brew delivered and space on the embassy floor offered up for the night.

Perhaps not a pure self-supported arrangement in the strictest sense but if the organiser was offering I wasn’t about to complain!

Aaaah….beautiful! You can almost sense the midges!

Home Stretch

Sunday, day 8, dawned and I was away at 04:58 and what a beautiful start it was. My favourite times on these ultra rides are the junctions between night and day, they just feel particularly calm yet pregnant with anticipation for what is to come. A land slowly waking or slowly sleeping yet also coming to life in a new way.

I always feel revived at these times of day even if only emotionally. It really was a beautiful and moody morning with low misty clouds drifting across the landscape and the sky morphing through various shades of red. My backside hurt…

My breakfast refuel stop had a very fast looking Jason Jeffery ride up with brake problems. His bike had eaten right through his brake pads, front and rear, on just the short route, to the extent that the rears were now running metal on metal.

I examined mine. Front pads had about half a mm left on them, rears a mm. I replaced my my fronts with my spares and gave Jason my old pads. Problem solved!

Again, not pure self-supported behaviour but Matt had sent us off at the start with the instruction, “

Yes, it’s self supported but look out for one another. Job done.

Here I was then, the penultimate day, all being well, maybe I’d ride through to the finish but as the day wore on, my neck weakened further and the heavens opened once again.

My ideas shifted, I wasn’t chasing a top ten finish or anything flash after all so it’d probably be far more enjoyable to get a good rest and refresh in on the last night and then enjoy the final day’s riding more.

Decision made I booked a room right on the route at the Garddfon Inn in Caernarfon which by then was was about three hours away. I plotted arriving in time for the end of the Euros football final and hopefully a bit of nosh. I’m no footie fan really but this would surely be a good time to be watching in a bar and enjoying the banter.

Decision made I excitedly set off, it felt like I was riding fast but actually I only averaged 20kph on even this flatfish stretch of road.

On arrival I met a mildly drunk woman smoking in the doorway. She quizzed me on what I was up to… “Oh wow!” We chatted some more and then she paused, and a wistful expression settled across her face, “Oh, I used to love cycling…I rode all these great Welsh rides”, “Why did you stop?” “Oh you know life caught up, other things took priority”.

A situation I’m sure we are all familiar with. I really hope that my passing encounter may have been just the nudge she needed to get back into it. Feeling fully fit, healthy and free will always trump the temporary relief derived from fags and booze. I was too late for any food so it was a pint of Guiness, a packet of crisps and penalties 🤣

A room! Clean sheets! Hot shower! Towels! Oh the immense delights! This new luxury really highlighted the difference there is between stopping in a bivi and stopping in a hotel or b&b especially in wet weather. In terms of physical recovery and gear management a room does offer serious benefits.

Still, I do like my feral approach but this night’s accommodation had me thinking that I might use b&b’s more in future as a way to keep me in better shape and moving faster. Time will tell.

Kinesiology tape to rescue my weary neck

I may have been in a warm comfy bed but I didn’t sleep very well, I seemed to wake every hour ready to go again except that I knew that I wasn’t. I was up before 04:00 and on my way, clean and just about dry at 04:49. To help my weary neck I taped four strips of kinesiology taped onto my neck and back. Doing this had made for a comical morning yoga type of session but it really make a difference. My bike had been parked safely with the Inn’s beer barrels in a court yard over the road.

This morning’s breakfast stop had another fast looking rider show up, Ali Matheson, far younger than me but of a similar size. He’d proudly beast’d his way up every climb on route and his knees were feeling it. I’m not surprised!!

We rolled off together and jokingly I shouted “Race yer!” and sped off into the distance, fully expecting him to catch me up soon after. Surprisingly he didn’t!  “Wow, maybe I am riding well today!” I wasn’t, he’d simply had mechanical issues and stopped at a bike shop 😂.

With few concerns about battery life now, I studied the tracker, Mike Sheldrake and Peter Browne ahead. Could I pass either of them? Mike was a long way ahead but anything could happen. As the day wore on it looked like I was gaining on them both with Ali remaining somewhat behind. I eventually made it past Peter, though I never saw him. Suddenly I became the hunted…

My neck was really starting to complain now. Still, I was far from having full Shermer’s Neck, the highly dangerous situation where you find your head just dropping into your chest without warning. This typically happens on a descent as descents force you to try and hold your head higher to see, which makes it only the more dangerous.

No, I just had to ride very upright and descend with great care. Thankfully today was flatter riding as riding up hills out of the saddle was a problem as well. I trudged up the final climb to be greeted at the top by some well wishing dot watchers, I’m sure they’d have been far happier if I’d actually been riding my bike! Needs must, pride comes before a fall as they say.

I felt a little emotional rounding Great Orme and paused to take it all in. This had been quite some ride, and, for me at least, the toughest cycling I’d so far experienced on any ultra.



PCR 2021 has really got me questioning what I’m wanting from these events.

As I’ve said earlier I really didn’t find a lot of the riding that enjoyable. Slow, narrow, ultra steep and dangerous roads coupled with many slow, rough, cycle paths and gravelly tracks. These are not the type roads I ride by choice.

Even in my home county of Cornwall where narrow tracks and roads abound, faster and less dangerously constricted routes can be created. I’ve simply had far too many near misses with tractors and traffic on the super narrow routes; and they’re just plain slow, dull riding anyway.

I ride a road bike for exhilaration and speed, I like minimum braking, and making progress.

Not that I want to ride entirely on A or B roads by any stretch. I “Street View” the routes I create directly from within RWGPS to get an idea of a roads true nature. A, B and minor roads can vary greatly and if a road hasn’t been Street Viewed by Google then you can be sure that it’s amounts to little more than a track.

Anyway, the PCR guys are of course totally free to create any route they wish and I don’t expect them to cater to my idiosyncrasies. However, as the final route wasn’t released until about 2 weeks before the start it’s really hard know what you might be getting into from well enough in advance.

As it stands, based upon PCR 2021, then I think it unlikely that I’ll be signing up for PCR 2022 which is a shame because every other aspect of the PCR was truly top notch.

What next then? I’m registered for the Trans Pyrynees Race this September 2021, which, due to COVID, is still not finally confirmed as running so time will tell there.

In 2022? Maybe something where I create my own route? Maybe even a third go at the Transatlantic Way… I love that ride. Options, lots of options, maybe even PCR 2022? We shall see!

My feet are a wreck and remain partially numb as I write this and the tips of all of my fingers still feel tingly. Ultra riding certainly exacts a toll on one’s body but I’m not ready to hang up my wheels yet!

Mike, Ali and I at the party. Contented!

P.S. A special thank you to the birds that learnt their support. To the eagle that swooped ahead of me and soared off into the distance. To the sparrow that flew ahead and then stood in the road waiting before flying on some more again and again. To the many little guys that buzzed my path, tweeted in my ears and generally just made me smile. I thank you!


  1. Bettina says:

    Fantastic account, Chris – amusing, gruelling, beautiful and terrifying by turn. As I have said before, you are amazing!

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