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Pan Celtic Folly | Part 6: A month to go ...

Chris Davis, 7th June

I had the pleasure to meet Pete (co-founder of the Pan Celtic Race) at the recent Bristol handmade bike show. He was as I imagined: a care free spirit, thoroughly good guy with a sophisticated palette for the finest whiskeys. I’m now very much looking forward to meeting the rest of the Pan Celtic team (Matt, Rebecca and Toby) and fellow riders in exactly 1 months’ time.

It’s come around quickly, all too quickly. I’m really pleased I started training early on. I’ll admit that flogging myself on the 75 mile round trip to work in the cold and dark was not always top of my to-do list, but on the whole it’s been great and is now even more enjoyable with our longer summer days. As the event looms on the horizon, even my girls now encourage me to go to bed early, although I suspect this has more to do with the fact that Love Island has now started and they want me out the way.

The picturesque Harveys Brewery as I pass though Lewes on my ride to and from work

Training wise, I’m up to about 25 hours a week, five of those running and swimming to get some variety. I think this is about as much as I can manage with work and personal commitments, and is just the right side of the line in terms of fatigue which, would be counterproductive. Indeed, just over 5 of those running hours were spent running alongside my youngest daughter on her first marathon last month, a trail run over the South Downs. After 21 arduous miles she was clearly struggling, and I suggested she stop at the nearby aid station where we had strategically placed her mum. Her reply was short and not lacking in clarity: “I’m not fu%king stopping now!”. I’ll definitely be drawing on that as inspiration when things get inevitably tough at the Pan Celtic!

Shoreham in glorious sunshine on my way home ….

Last run into Worthing – not too shabby in weather like this – could be the Caribbean (if you are tired enough, inducing hallucinations ….)

Home sweet home – recovering “Pan Celtic” style

Overall, my one key lesson learned as a result of my experience to date is consistent with the “Rida ze bike” Fausto Coppi approach: if you are considering something like this, just get on the bike and ride as much and often as you can, starting as early as you can. As a consequence, I not only feel in good shape, but I’m mentally prepared too as there is no pressure: I’ve done my best in the lead up, and now just have to show a bit of that fighting spirit demonstrated by my daughter during the actual event itself. Another pearl of wisdom: be prepared for your food shopping bill to rocket!

Talking of the Celtic part of the Pan Celtic Race, Pete was obviously very proud of his Celtic heritage when I met him, so being a bit ignorant on this front I did a little research. The Celts were a pretty dominant community from 750BC to around 40AD. This was during the Iron Age, and they had mastered the manufacture of some pretty nasty iron weaponry, so the Celts pretty much spread all over Europe and even into north Africa. But the cunning and well organised Romans beat them back, although with considerable effort. Caesar himself described the Celts as formidable fighters: totally shaved bar their long flowing locks (he didn’t put it quite like that) and great bushes of lip har covering their mouths. There was reference to blue skin dye too, so with their weapons they must have been terrifying. There are now only 6 Celtic regions: the 3 we are cycling through (Scotland, Ireland and Wales) and additionally the Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany. It would be very cool if subsequent Pan Celtic races went through all 6, although I would add an honorary 7th: Galicia has strong Celtic heritage too (after all it can’t be coincidence that the Vigo football team they are so proud of is called Celta Vigo) and the most wonderful seafood (so food stops would be truly gastric affairs).

Back to bikes, my steel Enigma Endeavour is now complete and is in our paint shop in the very capable hands of Dave who has something special up his sleeve.

Dave with my Enigma Endeavour in our paintshop – a thing of beauty (the frame that is ….)

Richard has now pulled together a great component list for the build, but I’ll go into this in a later post as much deliberation went into this!

So for the remaining 4 weeks – hard riding for the next 2, then take it easy for the following 2 (with the exception of the Worthing Triathlon the weekend before – an annual homage for me as it’s only 1 km down the road, but pretty perturbed I’ll be competing in the Super Veteran category this year – for ‘super’ read ‘very’). Plus, I need to test my sleeping kit: I’ve now purchased a down sleeping bag and a blow up ¾ mattress, both of which are super small and light and reassuringly expensive. As a result, I can no longer afford accommodation en route, so they’d better work!