Archive for the ‘Audax’ Category

I’ve always fancied sampling a route that the professionals are going to use and this Audax route promised just that. It followed a stage of the Tour Down Under but in typical Audax style it added a few café stops and some kilometres to make the total distance 200km. This seemed like an ideal way to sample a race without participating and without being surrounded by hundreds of other cyclists with the same ambition.

It started in a 24-hour bakery close to where the actual stage would start. Just like the professionals we made sure that our nutritional needs were taken care of before the five of us hit the road. As we set off the organiser casually mentioned that gorge road, the first climb on the route, was closed for roadworks. We decided to gamble on being able to get through.

TDU (2)

Quality nutrition

We dodged round the road closed sign and ignored all the other signs that suggested that forward progress would be impeded at some point. Instead we enjoyed the feeling of being on a car free road. This must be something like the feeling professional cyclists get all the time whilst racing. It was rather nice not having to worry about cars trying to pass in the most ridiculous of places. Our reverie was brought to a grinding halt by a large man, covered in tattoos and wearing a skull ring on every finger. He was a man with a mission and his mission was not to let anyone pass the hole in the ground. We tried to use the power of persuasion but that was a lost cause. He had orders and a complete lack of compassion. We turned around and headed down, there was another way to get us back on route but that required a bit of climbing

I had been up Montecute Road before but that was on a mountain bike with much lower gearing. It is not a momentously steep hill but it just goes on and on. The others were far better climbers than me and soon they were snaking away into the distance. I knew the road got steeper near the end and that meant I would go slower. I struggled to the turning where the others were waiting vowing to do something about my gearing. The irony of doing this climb was that we now had to lose a lot of the height gained to get back on route. This involved a descent of the aptly named Corkscrew Hill. It was one of those rather scary descents that scares the sensible and that the reckless call fun. I used my breaks a lot.

Now we were at the bottom of the hill we had to gain the height all over again by climbing up gorge road to the reservoir. Yet again the group started to lengthen as those with climbing prowess speeded up and I slogged my way up. I thought that the climbing would be over by the time I reached the reservoir but I was cruelly mistaken. The road just became more undulating. I was able to catch the group on the down hill sections only to be distanced whenever the road went skywards. I started to get the feeling that it was going to be a long day in the saddle.

TDU (1)


The first café stop came as a welcome relief, well it would have done if the café had been open, we had to carry on a little to find a temple of calories and fountain of hydration. Just like the professionals we took care of our needs, unlike the professionals our needs included a bacon and egg roll and about a litre of coke. I was amazed at how much I was drinking. It was a hot day and I’d been dripping with sweat but to go though two bottles and a litre of coke before breakfast was for me, unheard of. At least I felt ready to tackle the next park to of the route.

The route kept its undulating character but now we were in the country and surrounded with fields of ripening corn. It was all very beautiful and for a while took my mind off the many small rises that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I had no idea that long steep hills could be hidden so well in the countryside. We got to the top of one where the views were spectacular, it didn’t even look like a proper hill. It just got steep without appearing to get steep. I don’t like this sort of hill.

TDU (3)

Heading for the hills

We came to a sharp corner, it housed a tree that someone had lived in one hundred years ago. Something like that is always worth stopping for. It also gave me a chance to recover slightly, finish the last of my water and have a stretch. I prayed that the next stop was as close as I though it was. It wasn’t

The next control was in a pub. The first glass of coke didn’t touch the sides. In fact, I’m sure there was some steam rising as I downed the drink. I had some crisps to slow down the flow of the next glassful. Even though I had filled by body with quality nutrition I still felt like I’d gone through the mill. I think it was here that it dawned on me that I was going to have to climb the Corkscrew in the next section. I suddenly felt rather weak.

TDU (4)

We should have stopped here, I needed a cuddle

The way to the bottom of the hill was mainly downwards with a few little lumps. That didn’t make the feeling of trepidation any better. Ive attempted the Corkscrew once before and it didn’t go well. This time I was hungry, dehydrated and tired. There is a whole world of difference between climbing when fresh and climbing with over one hundred and fifty hilly kilometres in my legs. I went as far as I could before grinding to a halt. I stood for a while gave myself a good talking to and them carried on for some meters and stopped again. I repeated this for a while before throwing in the towel and walking, there had been no cars on the road up to this point, now they came streaming passed all of them laughing at my inability to get up a hill. I tried to save face by cycling the last one hundred meters. It didn’t work

I met the others at the top of the climb. The official route took us down the hill to climb up another. There was no way that I was going to climb another hill. If I went down that road I fully intended to freewheel directly to my house and lay in a darkened room for a large number of hours. I didn’t care that it would be the first time I’d ever failed on an Audax. Luckily the others had no intention of descending and knew another route to our final control that involved less climbing.

There was still a lot of climbing and I was slowly coming to a halt on each climb. I lost count of the times I stopped to give myself a very good talking to. I was having a massive sense of humour failure due to the lack of sugar and liquid. This needed to be addressed urgently at the next stop. Two packets of crisps, two large glasses of cola and a packet of nuts later I started to feel a lot more human.

If I was a professional cyclist I would now get onto the team bus, participate in post-race interviews and probably be banned by the commissionaires for taking the wrong route. However, as I’m not I had to make my own way back to the city. It wasn’t far and it was mainly downhill. At last I could free wheel down the twisting road and admire the view over the city.

TDU (6)

Mission accomplished

This was the hardest ride I’d done in a long time and in retrospect I think I enjoyed it. It took a long time and a few bathfulls of water to recover. There is one thing that is certain. I will be glued to the television when the professionals go the same way.

TDU (5)

It took how long?

BobMMM (1)

The obligatory post cake selfie

There are days when there is nothing better than leaping out of bed ready to take on a lovely ride in the spring sunshine on Gracie the trike. Today was not one of those days. I was feeling tired and lethargic and I wanted to stay in bed. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’d lured Keith to come on the ride with promises of eating his body weight in cake I would have probably stayed in bed for another few hours.

I met Keith in the car park of the leisure centre where we signed on, chatted to all and sundry and indulged in some preliminary cake eating. Keith seemed happy that the early cake quota on this ride had exceeded his expectations.

We left the car park at the head of the pack and instantly found the first obstacle. Men in fluorescent jackets had been busy closing one of the roads in town by erecting all kinds of barriers and signs. The road we had been instructed to take on the route sheet was very closed to traffic, luckily it was not closed to pedestrians. If we were being law abiding citizens, we would have taken the diversion or pushed our bikes along the pavement. It was, however, early on a Sunday morning so we took the most obvious course of action.

Once we were reunited with ridable road we bowled along at a nice rate chatting about the trivia of life. I slowly became aware that we were way out in front. There was no one coming up behind us. This was strange. I’m much more used to people flying by me at this stage as the fast-paced ones disappear up the road never to be seen again. It doesn’t matter how much I like to kid myself that I’m in that group, I’m not and when riding Gracie I never will be. I was certain that someone would come past when the road went vaguely upwards. The extra weight of a Trike and my inability to go up hills almost assures this. It didn’t happen; I was starting to get suspicious now. I wondered if I’d printed of the correct route sheet or maybe I’d missed an instruction. I even wondered if the rest of the field had been wiped out by a stray asteroid.

Reality intruded on my revelry, the left side of Gracie started to feel a bit soggy. I tried to ignore it but it was followed by a little metallic bumpiness. I slowed and someone behind me told me I had a puncture. The tyres on Gracie are quite a tight fit, I bought them for the colour, everything else was a minor consideration. Keith and I spent a strenuous five minutes of so deploying the full range of tools and swear words to prise the tyre from the rim. If we’d had grappling hooks and crowbars we would have used time. Everybody came past us as we cursed and swore. At least that confirmed we were on the right route. Eventually we won the fight and got Gracie reinflated but that didn’t stop me fretting quietly that the tyre was going down, I’m never that confident with my puncture repairs, I’ve had far too many failures.

BobMMM (3)

Eating cake to the memory of Bob

We could have tried to catch up with everybody or we could have continued at a leisurely pace admiring the spring scenery as we passed though the countryside. It was too nice a day to rush so we took the easy and more enjoyable option. Had the pubs been open we would have been very tempted for a spot of refreshment. We passed some very nice looking (but closed) pubs.

I’ve often wondered if two people on two wheels is faster than one person on three wheels, today the answer was trike overtakes tandem. This is a useful bit of knowledge for when I’m playing cycle top trumps.

Somewhere outside of Ditchling Keith started to smell the cake and slowly speeded up. I watched as he slowly got smaller. I wasn’t going to chase him, there would have been no point. I guess that a couple of hours riding alongside a Trike can make someone a little stir crazy. I caught him up at the cemetery that was acting as a control. This was the whole point of the ride, to visit Bob. We ate some cake to his memory.

BobMMM (2)

Bikes hiding behind a hedge so the South Downs don’t see them

Keith confessed that he had never been up the Beacon and as we were crossing the bottom of it, it seemed rude not to. I had no intention of taking Gracie up there; it was not something we relish. Luckily there was a group of Rovers who were going up so he would be in good company. I said I would ride slowly so he would catch me up somewhere on the way back.

I spent the rest of the ride spinning gently through the countryside in a world of my own making waiting for Keith to affect the catch, just like the sprinters teams do to the lone breakaway in the Tour de France. The closer I got to the finish the more convinced I became that Keith and the Rovers were bearing down on me. I was being the plucky breakaway rider soloing home and they were the big teams hunting from another victory. They never caught me and I got the pick of the cake.

In hindsight, I’m glad I got up this morning, even if my only motivation was to not let a mate down

Man of Kent 200

Posted: March 26, 2017 in Audax, Cycling
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ManofKent (2)

In an ordinary suburban street…

I really didn’t feel like doing this ride. I woke up but failed to get out of bed. I prayed it was raining to give me a legitimate excuse to stay in bed but the prayers didn’t help. Eventually I dragged myself into an upright position and went through the motions. If I hadn’t prepared everything last night I probably would have stayed in bed. The object of my lethargy was the Man of Kent 200 a one hundred and twenty five mile Audax ride around Kent. Last time I’d done this ride on Gracie the Trike but Gracie had been visited by the puncture fairy so I had decided to do this one on two wheels instead. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a long ride on two wheels. It should make a refreshing difference.

I met up with Mark at the start; Mark and I are veterans of many an Audax ride and more importantly we ride at about the same pace. We often put the world back in to shape whilst meandering down country lanes.

The first and longest section of the ride took us from the village hall to a vicarage for breakfast. I would like to think that the ease of the ride was due to my extensive winter training regime but I suspect that it was a lot more to do with the howling tail wind. It pushed us eastward with ease but we knew in the back of our minds that we would be battling it later. There was only one hill of any significance but the wind assisted climb seemed much easier on two wheels than three. After the climb was a long wind assisted descent to the first stop. This is how I always think cycling should be; moving at speed with the minimum of effort.

ManofKent (3)

My bike was at the bottom

The vicarage didn’t disappoint. A bacon sandwich was slapped into my had the moment I walked into the garden. I like that sort of service. The bacon was followed by a croissant and a chocolate biscuit just to make sure that I had all the major food groups covered.

The next section was still with the wind and this made life easy. We made our way quickly to a cup of tea and a large chocolate brownie in a garden centre café. We all knew that this was the end of the eastward journey, things were about to get a lot harder.

ManofKent (4)

Quality carbohydrates

The wind hit us about a mile from the garden centre. Things went from lovely to very Dutch in a matter of minutes. Now was not the time to be cycling alone and struggling with the wind. Now was the time to be in a group, to hang on to a back wheel and take shelter, and to do your fair share on the front battling against then elements. Mark and I teamed up with one other and we battled the wind with grim determination and bloody mindedness. There was no chat, no batter, just gritted teeth and a constant fight. We came to a junction and the other guy dropped off the back, he apologised saying that he couldn’t keep with the pace. This made me feel a little smug and then guilty at feeling smug.

There was a long descent along a beautiful valley near the end of the section; I assume it was a descent because the road tipped downwards. The wind counteracted any advantage here. I assume it was beautiful as one of the other riders told me it was, in the summer, when there is no wind. Today however, I didn’t see much apart from Mark’s back wheel or the road ahead viewed through squinted eyes.

ManofKent (7)

More quality cardohydrates

The next stop was in a station café, out of the wind and surrounded by the comforting smells of mediocre café food. We did wonder whether the small steam trains would take us back to the HQ but apparently the tracks didn’t go in that direction and it would probably be cheating. At least we felt like we had broken the back of this ride and were heading for the finish.

The route changed direction and the effect of the wind lessened. This was a blessed relief after the battle of the last few hours. We trundled along easily to the penultimate check point. Here we joined forces with another group. We were the youngsters in the pack the other four were in their late 60’s and early 70’s. This didn’t diminish their ability to stay on the pace. As we got closer to the HQ the pace increased. It was probably the smell of the tea and the aroma of peaches in ride pudding that did it. As we hit the final stretch it became an out and out race. There was no way that I could have been accused of letting the 67 year old win, he did it all by himself. It was a good sprint to the finish with neither of us giving any quarter.

ManofKent (8)

It wasn’t going our way

Invicta Hilly

Gracie waiting whilst I fill myself with tea

Gracie was being a little petulant today and refused to get out of the car without a struggle. I should have realised that this was a bad sign but as usual I carried on regardless. We had driven here to take part in the Invicta Hilly, the smaller version of the Invicta Grimpeur, The first long ride that Gracie and I did together. The big version consists of two loops, one clockwise and one anti clockwise. The hilly is just one anti clockwise loop. There was a lot of climbing and I remember from last time that it got quite painful by the end. The smaller version was definitely the one for me today.

It all started well, the Hilly participants were waved off at the allotted time and I made my way out the gates near the front of the pack. I was under no illusions that I would be the fastest round. That will never happen with an extra wheel on a hilly route. I was surprised how long it took for the first few to come past. I was well into the first climb before it happened. This made me happy as it suggested that the minimal amount of winter training had paid off.

The first control came at the top of Yorks Hill. I sat there for a while and contemplated the first descent. Descending on a Trike is a stressful experience at the best of times and Yorks Hill is steep and evil. The road surface was rutted and covered in mud. I decided that a screaming plummeting descent was out of the question and went for the timid cautious approach instead. It still wasn’t a pleasant experience. I got to the bottom shaken and stirred but mainly happy to be alive.

I caught up with a group of riders in front and followed them to the foot of the next hill. It turned out that I went to school with one of them. I didn’t recognise him at all but apparently I was still the same, something that I doubt. Catching up and chatting took the sting out of the next hill, we even passed someone who was attempting the ride on a Moulton.

We reached the top of the next descent. This was a lot more benign than the last one. It was on a wide road with a good surface and no bends. This was a good road to drop down with childish glee. I assumed the position and let the plummet commence. Then the wobbles started. Little wobbles at first but rapidly escalating into violet throwing off the Trike type wobbles. The whole of the front of the trike was vibrating wildly. I tried pulling hard on the brakes but that only made the whole thing worse. I started fearing becoming part of the road surface in a sudden and violent way. I brought Gracie back into the fold with a combination of brute force and intermittent braking. I pulled into a layby and cursed loudly. I’d been on the margin between upright and road surface; that is quite frightening.

Climbing the next hill I noticed that the quick release on the front wheel had come loose. I’ve no idea if the wobble had caused it or it had caused the wobble but I was willing to bet that it hadn’t helped the situation. Maybe that was why Gracie was being so petulant this morning. She was obviously offended that I’d not given her the attention she deserved.


Gracie, waiting outside whilst I filled myself with tea and biscuits

I’ve done this ride many times and it is always cold. Today was no different. The weather forecast wasn’t too promising either, with the prospect of snow later. I used my usual rule of if it’s not raining when I start I’ll do the ride. I’d chosen to do the ride on Gracie the Trike for a number of reasons, chief amoungst them being stability and the ability to carry a lot of spare clothing. I felt that I may be in need of extra layers as the day wore on.

The start was the usual mix of familiar faces, cups of tea and catching up with the news in the small world of Audax. I met mark in the HQ and as is usual we started the ride together. Again we were the epitome of Audax cyclists: one of us on a fixed with mud guards and panniers and the other on a tricycle, chatting our way round a ride and putting the world to rights.

At various points on the first leg we tangled with a sportive that was also running on our lanes. Sometimes they were cycling with us and sometimes they were on the other side of the road. Gracie managed to raise a smile from a lot of them. On one corner curiosity got the better of me an d I asked one of the riders which sportive and what route they were doing. After a little chat we felt that we had sold the benefits of Audax (mainly more cake) over Sportives with the cyclist promising to look us up on the web.

On another corner I overtook three sportive riders, they seemed to think that having an extra wheel was in some way cheating. They were very vocal about that. I almost offered them a turn on Gracie to show them that a Trike is in no way cheating. I didn’t because I think that Gracie should be paid more respect than that. She is, after all, an old lady who is still keeping up and in some cases passing the youngsters.

The original route took us up a steep hill to a control but the organisers had decided that the road was too dangerous for us to pass. They regaled us with tales of snow and slush and slippery conditions. I wasn’t too sad that I didn’t have to struggle up the hill for a tepid cup of tea and then follow it with a hair raising descent. I quite enjoyed my hot tea and cake instead.


Mark, at the first control using Gracie as a bike stand

Mark and I set off on the next section as the snow started to fall. It was very light snow that didn’t settle. At least it wasn’t rain. Rain would have made the ride miserable. The sprinkling of snow was little enough to be distracting but not annoying. The route passed along the piece of road that persuaded me that Audax was a good thing to do. It is a lovely narrow lane through trees and past a pond. Even now in the depth of winter it had a certain charm. I may have been viewing it through rose tinted spectacles though.

There seemed to be more slight ups than downs on this part of the route. I’m a lot slower going up than Mark. I can usually catch up on the downs, providing there are sufficient downs. There weren’t. Mark slowly pulled ahead until he disappeared into the distance. It became clear that I’d be finishing the ride alone.

I learnt at the last control that I wasn’t the last on the road. This raised my mood a little as I felt at times that the entire field had passed me. I was now back on familiar roads, I knew all the lumps and bumps and had mental markers all the way home. I was able to retreat into my little world and try to ignore my legs complaining about being used so much. I was so deep into my world that I almost jumped off the Trike when someone passed me with a jaunty “well done!”

Eventually I pulled into the HQ ready for my bowl of hot soup, a bread roll and almost unlimited cake. The feelings of gloom at my fitness faded fast with each mouthful of cake. I felt I’d done quite well for my first ride out of the year on Gracie.


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.


Autumn Tints 100

Posted: October 13, 2016 in Audax, Cycling
Tags: , , , ,


I haven’t done a long bike ride for a very long time so I was looking forward to this one with a bit of trepidation. The Autumn Tints starts in Hailsham, heads out east along the coast and then makes a big loop in land via Heathfield and a few lumps to arrive back in Hailsham in time for a bite to eat. It’s one of Dave’s rides and no one ever goes hungry on a Dave ride.


In the few moments between getting up and leaving the house I went through the dilemma of what to wear. I’d decided that I would do todays ride on two wheel rather than three. The problem with this is that I have very little carrying capacity for all those other incidentals. After referring to multiple weather forecasts and eventually by sticking my nose out of the door I went with tights and two layers on top. It felt like it was going to be cold.


I got to the start in good time and stood around chatting over a cup of tea. A few asked after Gracie the trike but most of the conversation was about the last  seasons rides. I felt a little out of place having not done a long ride for a while. Dave said he would prefer a staggered start as there where a lot of cyclists today. I got away in the first group as I felt that I might be going slowly today. It wasn’t long before I was on my own and heading to the coast. I’ve done this route a few times before so there was very little need to look at the route sheet.


The journey across Normans Bay was as stunning as ever, I watched a few people fly kites as I whizzed past. If the wind had been blowing in the other direction it would have been perfect. I carried on into Bexhill and then Hastings where a man in a small car was pumping out reggae music to wake the sleepy town. It was all going well until I hit the first hill. I’m not built to go up hills. My only real option is to grind them out in the low gears. I fully expected a big group of cyclists to pass me but in the end only one came shooting past. No doubt the thin ones were still struggling in the wind,


I eventually got to the top of the hill. It was payback time, the descent. There was a time when I wouldn’t even have covered the brakes, I was immortal then. These days I’m on the lookout for cars and truck and no end of movable solid objects. I have no desire to be the filling on a car sandwich. I hit the levels at speed but the hope of speeding across the levels was dashed by the strong headwind. It felt like going uphill. I was glad to turn inland and arrive at the control.


The control was laden with goodies and Dave had his famous oven heating up all kinds of treats. To linger was to get fat so after a cup of tea and a few tempting titbits I headed off into the cold. My legs were starting to complain, they had not been asked to peddle for this long for quite a while.


The creaking started a few miles from the control. At first I thought it was the chainset, then my attention moved to the wheels. The bike started feeling a bit strange. I had developed a wobble. After mentally going through all the bits that could have come loose I realised that it was the saddle that was wobbling. I carried on to the top of a rise to fix it. It is never worth stopping at the bottom of a hill. The bolts were hanging out. A piece of deft work with a hex key soon fixed it and I was on my way.


I started to struggle, there were a series of long straight road that sapped the energy from my legs. My bum had started to complain as well. This is what happens when I don’t cycle for a while, everything below the waist goes soft. I persevered wilth only a mild amount of complaining. I knew what was coming next…


Climbing, that was what was next, lots of going up. I was in the low gears for most of it and cursing geography for all of it. The views at the top were wonderful, all the way out to the sea. I would have appreciated them more if I wasn’t a sweaty mess from struggling up the hill. From here it was a lumpy ride into Heathfield. To make it a little more urgent my bladder decided to let it be known that it was full. I was scouting for places but there were people where people shouldn’t be. I was sweating with effort and desperation by the time I got to Heathfield. The public convenience was a little old and decrepit but at that moment it was like a palace. The urgency washed away. All was right with the world.


I met up with a few others just outside Heathfield. This was good, I had people to chat too but, more importantly, I had people I could follow. They could drag me to the end and my legs would be grateful. I clung on the best I could even though my legs threatened to cramp. It helped that the last bit was mostly downhill. It still seemed like a long time until the end came into site with its promise of yet more hot food