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LENEW - Training for RAB 2021


The LENEW route

NRC has a team taking part in the 2021 edition of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain (RAB) event in early September. Quite a daunting proposition, if you have never done 100+ miles for 9 days in succession. So it seemed a sensible idea, at the time, to get out there and have a go at riding the first two stages of the full RAB route, particularly since these two days are super challenging from a climbing perspective. And then ride on home to Newbury. Oh, and by the way, the idea was to carry all the kit you might need for 3 days with a highly variable British weather forecast, just to make it that little bit more difficult!


So LENEW, Land's End to Newbury, was born...


Taking part in the event over Friday, 18 June to Monday, 21 June were Peter 'the Welsh wizard' Jenkins, Chris 'the organiser' Matthews, Dave 'captain sensible' Martin, Marwood 'king of the mountains' Jeans, Allan 'bike maintenance isn't my thing' Bartlett & Steve 'where's the next cafe?' Dawes.


Day Zero - Getting to Penzance & starting the route

Distance 10 miles

Elevation Gain 800ft

Overnight Queens Hotel, Union Hotel


Speeding past Dawlish on the train

For most of us, getting to Penzance meant letting the train take the strain on an iconic Great Western route, passing the white horse at Westbury, almost being able to touch the sea going through Dawlish and crossing from Devon to Cornwall on Isambard Kingdom Brunel's bridge across the River Tamar.


Peter & Chris at Land's End

The early arrivers in Penzance checked into their hotels and quickly jumped onto their bikes to race over to Land's End to do the first few miles of the full RAB Day 1 route. For later arrivals, it was a pint in the the Dolphin Tavern instead. Important pre-event preparation then took place in the form of carbohydrate loading from the Nepalese menu at the excellent Taj Mahal restaurant around the corner.


Day 1 - Penzance to Okehampton

Distance 102 miles

Elevation Gain 9,000ft

Overnight Betty Cottles Inn


The day did not start well. 250 metres into the route, Allan's freewheel stopped working. Or maybe it was working too well, freewheeling both ways. Dave & Chris, who actually know something about bikes, took control. The rear wheel was spun vigorously backwards, some kind of black magic happened and Allan's free hub starting to do its thing again. I think there is a lesson hidden somewhere about bike servicing before big outings...


First stop - 250m from the start!

The rest of the day went much better. Plenty of sun screen was needed, always a good sign. We took photos of us taking photos of us taking photos 🙂. Lunch was always going to be an awesome Cornish pasty with a large tea.


And we cycled up and down hills - and up and down again; and again; very little in the way of flat road to be seen.



Overnight accommodation was Betty Cottles Inn on the edge of Dartmoor. It had just about everything we needed, including a shed to secure bikes in overnight, but had more than a touch of the Fawlty Towers about it. One guest stormed out of the hotel restaurant because his choice of dessert from the menu was not available. To be fair, very little on the menu was actually available. I had the 'trio of sausages', which turned out to be three identical sausages...


Day 2 - Okehampton to Frome

Distance 113 miles

Elevation Gain 7,500ft

Overnight Premier Inn


Day 2 started cool with light drizzle, but luckily it warmed up and didn't get wetter. But it was way better than we were expecting from the forecast...


There was less continuous up and down today, but the route's 'highlights' still contained two big climbs for us.


The toughest hill was Cothelstone with around 800ft of total height gain, with over 400ft at 10%+ gradient. I certainly started to think seriously about switching a super-compact 46/30 chainset onto my RAB 2021 bike after that, to keep legs spinning and avoid stress that might come back to bite later on.


Later in the day, we were presented with the 900ft Cheddar Gorge climb. Easier than Cothelstone, just much longer. Marwood absolutely flew up, a man on a mission. Then he turned around, went down to the bottom, and did it all over again (his waterproof jacket had fallen out and needed retrieving).




Overnight, the bikes were in for a treat as the Premier Inn policy allows you to store your bike in your room. Luckily they weren't dripping wet and oozing road dirt - not yet anyway, the forecast for the following day was terrible.


Day 3 - Frome to Newbury

Distance 62 miles

Elevation Gain 2,600ft


The forecast didn't disappoint. It was chilly and raining with a stiff headwind. Luckily it was only a relatively flat 60 miles home which felt like a sprint compared to the previous days.


Clingfilm - a Chris top tip

Still, the heavy rain gave Chris the opportunity to get out the 75 metres or so of clingfilm that he had brought with him. No, we weren't going to open a sandwich making business along the way, Chris was intending to wrap his feet up for the ultimate weatherproofing, and so he did. You will have to ask him how well it turned out!


The Westbury White Horse

After 25 miles or so in, we pitched up at the Honey Street Cafe. Given this is a regular stop on Sunday club rides, we felt like we had arrived on home territory. Home territory is home to the West Berkshire flint. We had done 250 miles without a puncture so far, could we make it all the way back without one? Fortunately, no-one was silly enough to mention the 'p' word, fate wasn't tempted and our good luck held all the way.


What's next?

Ride across Britain is next, the full route and key statistics are laid out below. If you fancy joining the NRC team, it may not be too late as people drop out all the time and sell their place on the tour. Otherwise, there is always 2022...


The full RAB 2021 route








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Well done gents - loving the cling film - we're only starting to discover what it can do for us.

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