Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Magnificat

So, 127 miles. Pretty lumpy. Not as many people as the Dragon Ride. However, they did have the Mavic support car:


And even the Mavic support bike, sans spare wheels:


Things started fairly fast, as Darren and I escaped most of our starting group up the first hill and tried to hang on to a couple of faster groups that had started after us. Tried, until we both realised that riding flat out for 6+ hours wasn't really going to be a viable strategy (you could argue, quite convincingly, that it wasn't a strategy at all). We settled into our own pace, sometimes sheltering behind others, sometimes doing the sheltering. Darren was feeling a little ill (having raced the day before with a cold) and was fairly confident that he'd only do the 81 miler. He might have been feeling rubbish but as usual it didn't show - I don't think I'd have been going any faster if he hadn't had been there.

At the first big food stop we were passed by the Torq team riders, who had started a good 20 minutes behind us. They were travelling so quickly (and with no intention of stopping for food) that they completely missed the timing mats at the entrance to the food stop and had to sheepishly turn back. We noticed a few riders doing this - the moral of the tale being to never, ever pass up the chance of free flapjack.

Shortly after Darren split off for the 81 mile route (or "Wusses Route", as it was known) and I carried on the big one. At this point it became slightly disconcerting as there were so few people around. I hung on the back of a couple of riders for a while, but let them go (i.e. couldn't keep up) after half an hour.  Then I was alone... alone to the extent that I was convinced I'd missed a turning. The course wound up and over the South Downs - stunning countryside in the sunshine, less stunning if you're worried that you are riding an unknown road with no useful map and limited supplies. I'm sure very few people die of starvation on these roads, but I didn't fancy existing on dead hedgehog and Torq bars until I was rescued.

Finally, some more direction signs, a couple of other riders and a drinks stop. After this (about the 80 mile mark) I managed to tag along with some other groups until I found that these groups kept getting smaller on all the climbs - and I wasn't one of the ones being dropped. Wowzers... I can climb. Must be all those days trying to keep up with tiny Jon.

Lots more miles, and finally back onto some familiar roads near Basingstoke. I could sense the finish so allowed myself to burn a tad more energy until the beautiful gleeming spires of the the old Air Traffic Control tower at Greenham Common came into view. Down the hill, back to the racecourse and a very gentlemanly finish with noone trying to sprint ahead of the two guys who had been towing us around for the past ten miles.

I finished 100th out of 440 starters on the 127 mile route - 7 hours 11 ride time, 7 hours 24 total including stops.

No witty ending for this one.
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