All entries for Monday 08 September 2008
September 08, 2008
The ride did take place on Sunday, despite the weather, and I did complete it. In fact I ended up cycling 68 miles, not 65. I didn’t manage it in 4 hours though. It turns out that the route was far too hilly for that. 4 hours was never going to be possible for me even in good conditions, but with it as wet as it was I was even slower. It took me 4 hours 50 minutes, rolling time, plus a rest stop in the middle and a couple of short stops for other reasons.
The route was this:
When we checked in at the start they were recommending skipping the northern loop from Little Alne around to Lowsonford and back to Little Alne, because that was possibly quite flooded. I didn’t really want to miss out such a large chunk so I went anyway. Fortunately, so did a few others. We did, however, end up cycling through the occasional 12” deep flood, and there was one deeper, fast flowing flood that we decided to wade through as it seemed too dangerous to cycle it. Consequently, I had cold, wet feet pretty much the whole way around.
The rest stop was in Great Alne, not quite half way around. After that, there was one diversion around an genuinely impassable section and then things got a bit drier. There was nothing deeper than a couple of inches around the southern part of the route.
What there was, though, was a hill or two, including one (Baker’s Hill between Mickleton and Hidcote Boyce) that defeated me. I got about 75% of the way up and had to stop and walk before my knees gave out completely. I didn’t want to risk not finishing at all. I don’t know how steep it was (25%, maybe, although at the time it felt pretty much vertical:-) but I was snaking backwards and forwards across the road to make it easier and still only managing to crawl up at 4mph. After that I had to ease up just a little to make sure my knees didn’t give up. Another reason for the slow time.
From there back to the start was a quite pleasant ride, in fact. Lots of nice views, and a generally quite easy ride. I was quite pleased to see the finish, though! Fot the last five miles or so I was counting not just the miles but the tenths! I’m not sure I’d have wanted to cycle much further. I suppose another couple of miles to round it up to 70 would have been nice, but no further. I think that might be my last long ride of the year…!
The whole journey was made much more pleasant by having some company. I linked up with a guy who knew the roads, having cycled them a lot in the past, and was going at about my pace (although I suspect I was holding him up, especially towards the end when I was looking after my knees), so I had some company and didn’t have to worry about getting lost! If you are reading, Dave, thanks for sticking with me!
Despite the weather, it was fun in a slightly strange way. I will almost certainly do it again next year, but I’ll do a bit more hill training first so I’ve got more of a chance of getting up Baker’s Hill, knees permitting.
Now all I have to do is collect the money! So, if you sponsored me and you didn’t do it online I’m going to be after you for money. And if you haven’t sponsored me and want to, it isn’t too late. Either come and find me, or donate online.
Update: According to my GPS track, Baker’s Hill is only a 20% gradient. I’m surprised. There were other hills on the route that were signposted as 20% gradients and that were much easier. Maybe the signposts were wrong, or just rounded up? Anyway, it was hard work:-)