Monday 15 October 2012

The Great Post-Haute Route Celebration Pub Cafe Bike Crawl

Every big achievement needs to be celebrated - to draw a line, to allow you to move on. Some may think that an official end-of-event party followed by a frenzy of stolen wine, cheese and ice cream is the way. They are wrong. There is only one way to celebrate a seven day bike flagellation across the Alps, and that's with The Great Post-Haute Route Cafe Hill-Climb Cafe Pub Pub Cafe Pub Curry Pub Pub cycle ride.

It started at a cafe, somewhere in South London, at about 9am. A crisp autumnal day, blue sky and fluffy clouds above.

That's a cappuccino and a pain au raisin. And a David. Note the funky HR shorts, and if you look carefully the HR Finisher jersey. This ride had a dress code. To right of shot were John, Keith and Christoph, also HR finishers.

The plan was to ride 80km or so, taking in the Dulwich Paragon club hill climb event and a couple of cafes, pubs, whatever. As John said, this ride wasn't about choice of cake, it was about selection of cakes. An "and" ride, not an "or" ride.

A moderate pace took us out of the city, into the lanes of Kent. Lots of people out, some of them heading our way. The hill climb was attracting a crowd. At the top of the course we chatted and joked, and when the man asked "who's competing?" we were first in the queue. We had no plans to do well, but if you've turned up at a hill climb you might as well take part.

I was slow. My rear wheel was rubbing, but not enough to make a difference. Sprinting the first 15 seconds probably wasn't the best plan. David was quick, though he'd done it faster before. Those extra end-of-year kilos (and being on a cross-bike) made a difference.

John elected to do the climb on foot. At least, that's what the photo shows.

Haute Route experts will note that he's not got the finishers' jersey on, just the normal one. He claimed it was somewhere in the USA, but can you trust a man who does a hill climb on foot? We were careful to ensure the timekeeper noted "no bike" against his time.

"No bike penalty, plus 5 minutes"

At this point we'd cycled for 25km, tasted blood from the hill effort and displayed our funky shorts to the world. Time for cafe number 2.

For the cake spotters, there's an apricot and almond, a lemon-lime drizzle, a scone with cream and jam and my magnificent selection - coffee and walnut.

Good cake.

Next, pub. To be accurate, next ride up the big hill, get caught in a shower, then pub. The beer was merely adequate so I refrained from photos. So that's two cafes, one pub.

From the pub we went to the pub. This one had much better food on offer:

It's easier to photograph the specials board than to try and remember it
It also had much better beer.

That's sunlight glinting through an Adnams Ghost Ship. We had soups, mains and a couple of pints. We held off dessert, as there was a highly recommended tea shop fifty metres away. In a tea shop, you drink pots of tea and have very English cakes. I remember there was a ginger cake, and I had a chocolate cake, but I think my mind was starting to get over saturated with calories. I even forgot to have tea, ordering coffee instead.

It was starting to get late now so we headed back - interrupted by my first ever road bike fall. Having your back wheel pop out while climbing a 25% incline generally leads to more annoyance than injury, thankfully.

Back in London and we were down to to three for the evening - David, John and me. The bikes were left at David's (where we also showered and changed into normal person clothes). A pub, a curry, another pub, a taxi for John and another pub.

The Haute Route had lots of numbers - hours on the bike, distance cycled, metres climbed. The GPHRCPCBC had numbers too.

  • 1 pastry
  • 2 cappuccinos
  • 2 slices of cake
  • 1 americano
  • 8 beers
  • 1 red pepper soup
  • 1 beef stroganoff
  • 1 mixed curry selection, side dishes, naans, popadoms
  • 3 cafes
  • 5 pubs
  • 0 energy bars
  • 0 energy gels

Why aren't more road rides like this?

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