Petworth 100k

Posted: November 10, 2015 in Audax, Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Petworth 3

The Beast in Audax Trim, waiting outside whilst I stuff my face

It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the Trike; running, illness and other commitments have conspired against me. After the frenzy of axle repair and the quick proving ride the Beast has been sitting in the shed a little forlorn. He needed to get out; I needed to ride the Beast and the time for the Beast to go back to his rightful owner was getting ever closer. I wanted to be sure that everything was working.  I also wanted feel the difference between 1 wheel drive and two wheel drive on a long ride.

It didn’t start well; I managed to misread the start time. Instead of arriving in time for a chat and a cup of tea, I arrived as everyone was leaving and the tea was being packed away. I still had to assemble the Beast but at least I wasn’t the last one to leave the car park.

I’ve done this event before, which means I had a vague idea of the route. The whole thing is centred on Petworth and is made up of 3 roughly equal loops. Each loop ends at a community hall were the organisers ensure that no one is hungry. It’s the type of event that you could gain weight on, I like that kind of event.

Once underway I felt that the Beast was flying. There is a world of difference having the power through both back wheels. It felt smoother with none of the subtle veering characteristic of riding Gracie. The first information control was about 10km into the first loop. I remember that I’d made a mess of finding the answer last year (the info control questions are usually answered by an obvious feature, like a road sign or large building). The route sheet specifically said not to take the small shortcut before the junction, so I thought the question must relate to something around here. I lingered a while and was joined by another group on the event. We collectively decided that something was wrong and decided to move on. I’m not sure that the group were prepared to be overtaken by a Trike. The info control was a large and obvious sign a mile up the road, exactly as the route sheet described.

Hungry riders trying and failing to eat all the goodies on offer

Hungry riders trying and failing to eat all the goodies on offer

Some people remember the answers to the info controls and write them in the Brevet card at the end, I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to such details so have to write them down as I see them. The great thing about a Trike is that there is no need to do all that ungainly unclipping. I could just sit there and scribble the answers. Whilst sitting there a group of three cyclists on a Sunday ride came past, passing a few comments about the Beast. They got a second chance to admire it as I sped past.

The way back to the hall was lumpy. I don’t usually look forward to hills, in fact I’ve often thought that I should have been born in the Netherlands, but today was different. I had a suspicion that this was where I’d feel the biggest difference between Gracie and the Beast. I was not wrong. In low gears Gracie’s front wheel starts skittering across the road, the Beast held his line. It made going up a little more comfortable. I liked this.

After a quick stop at the hall for cooked things, cake and tea I was off again. The weather was looking decidedly grey and I really didn’t want the hang around. I was also convinced despite evidence to the contrary that I was the slowest there. I had a feeling that most of the others in the hall would be overtaking me at some time during the next loop. There was a steep hill within the first few miles, I slipped the Beast into a low gear and wound my way slowly up all the while being overtaken by lighter and more nimble two wheeled machines. We passed a café near the top, someone shouted over, “Is that harder or easier”, “Harder” I gasped, as if it wasn’t obvious. The brow of the hill was a delight, the descent even better, despite the persistent drizzle.

The rest of the route took us on some lovely roads though autumnal forests. It was the sort of terrain that makes me glad I made the effort to get out, rather than take the easy option of a day on the sofa. At one point I surprised a deer that was forcing its way through a hedge and onto the road. I was rather glad that it turned and fled across the field. I didn’t really want to be rammed by a wild deer.

More edibles: will this torture never end?

More edibles: will this torture never end?

The talk at the control, over beans on toast and steaming mugs of tea, was about the hill. Even though I’d done this event before I really couldn’t recall it. I was as if it had been erased from my memory. Others were talking about steepness and sharpness. I offered a few bland comments but the details didn’t come. Not until a few turns before, then the details came back with a vengeance. There was an info control halfway up so there was no option to take the longer way round. The hill started off gently and slowly increased in gradient. I stopped at the control and my legs complained by cramping. It was a short and acute pain that brought tears to my eyes. By the time I’d recovered I was surrounded by others making a note of the info and using the control as an excuse for a breather before the steep part. This would be the real test, a steep hill, slightly greasy from the recent drizzle and covered in patches of leaf mulch. Gracie would not have been happy with this. I started the ascent; low gears; pushing hard on the peddles. A few bikes came past at speed but most were grinding it out. Ahead someone gave up the struggle and started walking. I was still going. Close to the top the road surface worsened, the patches of leaf mulch got larger. I was so close; and then I lost traction. Sliding backwards on the Beast was not a nice feeling; I may have uttered a few uncouth words, loudly.

The prize for attempting the hill was a long descent at speed and a nice run in to the hall for rice pudding, peaches, cake, more cake and tea. Finally after all the trials and tribulations of tricycle repair I’d managed to get a decent ride out on the Beast and I loved it.


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