The Petworth 100

Posted: November 19, 2016 in Audax, Cycling

Blue bike in repose whilst the rider drinks his body weight in tea


After nearly a month of coughing and spluttering and one cancelled long ride I wasn’t about to miss this Audax. It’s so well catered that I’m convinced that it is possible to gain weight during the course of the one hundred kilometers. Just to add to the fun I had arranged to do the event with Trev. He is a keen cyclist but an Audax novice, so this was an idea introduction to the past time for him.

We met up in a car park were everyone was complaining about the cold. It was hovering above freezing but the forecast was for it to hit nearly double figures by lunch time. We ignored the minor fly in the ointment of rain forecast after two as we should be near the end of the ride by then and of course a little rain shouldn’t hurt too much. The wind was taken from our sails when some youths turned up wearing shorts. At least they had the dignity to look very cold.

The route is made up of three loops, each one ending at the same village hall where we would be filled with food. The first loop started with reasonably flat open roads that had Trev and I bowling along quite happily chatting. The odd rise here and there showed up out differences in climbing ability. Trev can climb, I can’t. The last part of the first loop takes in a particularly lumpy road. It was a lot lumpier on a bike that it ever is in a car. As we struggled up one hill we were greeted by a wall of smoke. It looked like we had reached the end of the world and that just nothingness lay beyond the curtain of smoke. In reality, someone was burning garden rubbish and the thick smoke was drifting across the road. I tried to hold my breath whilst travelling through the noxious cloud but it didn’t work. Eventually I had to breath and then all my senses were assaulted by the smoke. The taste lingered long after we exited the cloud. What I needed was a cup of tea and something to eat to take the taste away.

The next loop was to the south and featured a hill, just the thing to show off my climbing inability. We climbed a little hill as an overture to the main event. A number of cyclist passed me on this but I wasn’t too bothered, I knew what was coming next and them passing me now meant that there will be less people to witness my pitiful attempt at the main event. The hill started at the end of a right-hand bend and just went up at a steady rate. I settled into the low gears and started the struggle. Trev disappeared off into the distance and more people passed me. About half way up I got to the point where I had no momentum what so ever. These are the desperate times, close to the moment when I would like to get off and push. If it wasn’t for the photographer on the other side of the road and my vanity I probably would have. Trev was waiting at the top sporting that smug look of someone who was reasonably good at climbing. It took him a few kilometers to mention that his legs were burning and he was feeling the effect of the hill. That did my ego no end of good.


This picture is in perfect focus as I was moving very slowly

What I lack in climbing ability I make up for in pace on the flat. The return section of the loop went through miles of woods, I just kept up my normal pace and I was surprised to see Trev trailing a little was in the distance. I could have slowed slightly but it felt much better to wait at a junction instead.

There was a small section of main road ahead and it seemed that every boy racer was using this stretch of road to show their lack of taste and driving skills. It was immensely irritating. Up ahead I saw the bare legged youths. The thought of a tow came to mind. It would have been nice to hand onto the back of a group for a while. I made sure that Trev was on my wheel and slowly built up the pace. Trev realised what was going on and stuck to my back wheel like glue. It would have been a brilliant plan but we were thwarted by a small rise in the road that was beyond my climbing prowess. We cruised back to the hall and filled ourselves with beans on toast instead.

It was a struggle to leave the hall for the final loop. It had got significantly colder outside and we were weighed down with beans on the inside. It took me a while to remember the last bit from last year but after a few kilometers it hit me with the force of a brick. This bit was cantered around climbing up a steep and nasty hill. I had begun to notice a pattern with this ride. The hill started gently enough but moved into struggling territory very quickly. Trev was up ahead and disappearing into the distance by the time we reached the pub. A few Sunday diners yelled “allez, allez” at him to spur him on, I took advantage of the question on the card to stop and write the answer down. I continued the struggle up the hill. On the curve a group of mountain bikers were putting their bikes into a van. Now I couldn’t get off and push. Eventually I reached the top, legs burning and chest exploding. Trev was sat in a lay by with the smug look of someone who can climb.


Preparation for those heart stopping moments

We cruised back to the village hall, Trev was clamped to my back wheel for most of this, claiming that he didn’t have it in him to take the lead. I was alright with this, it meant the hill had taken its toll on him to.

We arrived at the hall and were greeted by a bowl of peaches and rice pudding accompanied with big lumps of cake. It was the only way to end this ride.



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