Riders View: Issy Pritchard – Who am I to Chase the Sun?

19 February 2023

We are proud to have such an amazing diverse following of riders inspired to cycle Chase the Sun each year. We had always conceived the routes as an extraordinary challenge for any ordinary cyclist.

We are delighted to welcome onboard our new ambassador Issy Pritchard, here we share Issy’s personal blog where she explains the thinking behind her multiple attempts to Chase the Sun in 2022 and 2021…

Many thanks to Issy for sharing her Chase the Sun experience in her own words, and if you yourself could be interested to become our next Chase the Sun Ambassador, please get in touch with us via chasethesun.org@gmail.com

So who am I to Chase the Sun?

This event is for experienced, competitive club riders, right? Wrong.

As a quick introduction, my name is Issy. I don’t consider myself an “athlete”, and I’m definitely not competitive. I’m just someone who loves nothing more than an outdoor adventure and being as far away from my laptop as I can get. In the last 2 years, I have completed the southern Chase The Sun route twice, and both times, it was nothing short of epic. I’m here to tell you about my experience and why it’s a great event for amateur cyclists.

So how did I end up doing Chase The Sun?

Back in January 2021, my cycling experience was limited. I would borrow kit from my mum and get out for a lunchtime ride. In fact, I didn’t even own a Garmin or have Strava. The thought of having something that would introduce competition put me off as cycling was my escapism from any kind of pressure, and it still is!

Having lived in Cheddar my whole life, I had known about Chase The Sun for a while as I had watched cyclists whizz through the gorge before. I loved cycling up and down the gorge, but I had never considered doing it as part of an event. One evening, a friend who wanted to do Chase The Sun, signed me up to the event. And that’s where it all started. I had 6 months to build a bit of thigh muscle!

Previous Chase the Sun riders descending Cheddar Gorge (photo credit Charles Woolham)

Why did I do it… twice?!

205 miles and 3000m elevation. That sounds scary right? The truth is, it’s not 205 miles; it’s actually…

  • A chance to spend the whole day on your bike
  • A chance to be surrounded by like-minded individuals
  • A chance to see your country
  • A chance to feel how powerful your body is
  • It’s not a race, it’s an ADVENTURE

When I signed up, instead of worrying about the distance, I thought about all the fun aspects that this event would bring, and it lived up to those to the extent that I’ve now done it twice.

What is it really like?

There is no denying that Chase The Sun is a demanding physical and mental challenge. The day starts at 4:41 am and you could be cycling until around 10 pm. For us, having a support vehicle that met me and my friends every 40 miles was a necessary part of the challenge.

Throughout the ride, I was surprised by how chatty people were! I had so many conversations with other cyclists that time went really quickly. It’s amazing how many miles you can do when you’re distracted by friendly conversation.

In 2021, mile 120 was the hardest part and I didn’t eat enough, which meant that I experienced the dreaded bonk. However, due to the friendly nature of the event, I was able to stop, fill my mouth with a handful of cake and crack on when I was ready. I didn’t have this issue in 2022 as I made sure to eat good, proper food every hour.

In both years, I experienced true British weather (beautiful sunshine and heavy rain). When you’re sodden and cold right down to your bones, it can be hard to see the funny side. However, there was enough camaraderie spirit to keep going, and by that point, I was determined to finish.

How did I approach training?

Right from the start, I made a very conscious decision that I would not ride for the sake of riding. I would ride to enjoy it. And that applied to my training. I didn’t drag myself out of bed at ridiculous hours and do 50 miles before work. Instead, I did some short rides in the week (I’m talking 3 x 20 miles max), and then at the weekend, I went on really cool rides with family and made sure I was out most of the day, enjoying the scenery, enjoying the food, enjoying the feeling of my legs spinning. Whenever the weather was nice, I jumped on my bike and went for a spin, but if I didn’t feel it, I didn’t. That way, when it came to the event, I was still excited to cycle.

My favourite memory so far

Having family and friends meet me on the way made such a difference. Instead of thinking “I’ve got 130 miles to go”, I would think, “in about an hour’s time I get to see my grandparents!” or “at lunchtime, I’ll see my best friend”. And it was always an amazing boost to see people I know and love along the way. Other than that, I would have to say that meeting my dad at the finish line and being handed a cup of tea when I was soaking wet, cold, and exhausted was honestly one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I’m not sure what was more exhilarating, the beautiful taste of tea, all the lovely support, or the fact I had done it!!

Give it a go yourself…

If you’re interested in doing Chase The Sun, don’t worry about how experienced you are. It’s about having a positive mindset, enjoying the planning and the training, and all the snacks that come with it!  

If you’re interested in doing Chase The Sun, don’t worry about how experienced you are.

It’s about having a positive mindset… it’s not a race, it is an ADVENTURE!


    

Issy Pritchard / Chase the Sun ambassador

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