Posts Tagged ‘Pasties’

Man of Kent 200

Posted: March 26, 2017 in Audax, Cycling
Tags: , , , ,
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

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The Car park in the clouds

I like Cornish Pasties. I like them a lot. They have to be freshly made and piping hot. I really like the combination of meat, potato and pastry. It is a food of the gods and one that given the chance I would consume in ever increasing amounts until I took on the shape and form of a Pasty eating monster. To guard against the possibility of a dietary based full body collapse I rarely Pasties; but when I do I like to feel that I’ve earnt it. That’s why I decided to cycle down to Alfriston today, to stop at the village store and post office to eat a Pasty.

Between my house and Alfriston is the Ashdown Forest, which has a significant amount of up. As I’m preparing myself for a Trike event in a few weeks it seemed only natural that I should be riding Gracie, however she can be a little temperamental when going up steep hills. She has the tendency to skitter across the road and generally complain. I’m not that fond of climbing either but there was the promise of a pasty so up the hill we had to go.

Our chosen route took us up to the forest via The Wall, it’s a bit of a local classic climb, long and steep and usually covered in cyclists proving their hill climbing credentials. Today however the roads seem devoid of cyclists, probably because they were all taking part in Ride London 100. I’ve been up the wall many times, I’ve done it on road bikes, mountain bikes and even a fixie, it never gets any easier and I never get any faster. Today’s tactic was slow and steady, which, come to think of it is always the tactic.

The climb starts gently enough and never really gets any steeper; it’s just long, and wearing. It keeps going sucking the energy from my legs. I have little markers to tell me how far I’ve got: the entrance to a farm, the start of a footpath, a drive way. Somewhere along the bottom half I heard the noise of two cyclists screaming down at breakneck speed, just blurs of Lycra and cogs. In the middle there is a small section that feels less steep, I’m sure it’s just an illusion. All of a sudden there is the brow, the road disappears from view and is replaced by a blue sky. Sadly the road to heaven looks very, very steep. A last effort and BAM!: The top, a car park, an ice cream van and some road signs.  Gracie and I had made it, I was covered in sweat but Gracie had not complained. I wore the grin of someone who really doesn’t do hills but had done one anyway.

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Road signs of delight: every direction is down

Our prize for all the effort was an effortless cruise along the top of the forest. It’s a beautiful place covered in heather and bracken. From the top you can see both the both the North and South Downs and plenty more besides. This is a perfect road to cycle on a warm clear day. It is only enhanced by the knowledge that from the top every route is downhill.

The pasties in Alfristion tasted wonderful, enhanced by the encounter with the wall and a lovely long cycle.

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The whole purpose of the ride, to stop here and devour a Pasty