After a short Hiatus i was back on the road again.
Although failing again to commute to work i had arranged to do the "Solent-Hungerford 200K perm" with my cycling buddy Tim. Having not cycled for nearly 2 weeks i was a little concerned that this might hurt but i have done enough 200K rides now that they don't frighten me, knowing that i have always been able to finish and have previously got up some of the steepest climbs in Britain.
The drive to Hungerford was pleasant, it reminded me of the drive to Newbury 18 months previous before the start of mine and Tim's Isle if Wight adventure. Bizarrely the other parallel to this was that we would be cycling in the same vicinity as the same said ride.
As it as an audax we had to gain proof of all of the controls points so we opted to park in the Hungerford train station car park to gain our first "Proof Of Passage" which was on the course anyway.
The first stage was so pretty, lovely countryside side roads with few cars to bother us, a great start. We had a quick stop at Ludgershall where Tim blagged a post office stamp for our POP, malt loaf consumption and some nuts were the fuel of choice and on our way we went.
Second stage was equally pretty and felt strangely familiar, with so many country lanes cycled, this was not a surprise as a lot of them do essentially look they same, then 50K in we passed a pub and Tim said that's the "Broughton Buffalo Burger" pub, by Jove (note to self, not sure if i should be using this word) he was right.
On our isle of wight adventure we had stopped at a pub for lunch on the way and had a Broughton Buffalo Burger, which we both agreed at the time and since that this was the best burger either of us had ever had, being such a great burger we attempted to find it on the way back from the isle of wight but failed as we had been looking for it in Broughton, not as it turned out in Houghton. This explained why the roads seemed familiar and fuelled the conversation for some miles as we reminisced, unfortunately it was too early in the day for the pub to be open and serving the legendary burgers so we continued with aching tummies. We arrived at Romsey in good time but the control was a fuel station so no sit down brekkie, more snacking and we were on our way again.
Stage 3 to Stubbington was a bit naff to be fair, the roads, fast but busy and the road surface was a little course. I was starting to feel the ill effects of not riding for a while, aches and pains were starting to creep in, bizarrely they were old aches that i hadn't felt for a year or more, can 12 days off cycling really make that much difference.
As we approached Stubbington we first had to negotiate some fiddly little roads that were down by the sea front, although cold this was nice, a different kind of scenery to what we are accustom to.
Despite my hurting legs we still made reasonable time and got to our control at 13:30, the half way point. Time for some lunch, which came in the form of a Lancashire hotpot in "Donny's" a little cafe of the new chintz retro cool variety, lots of remanufactured signage and clocks that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Cath Kidston store. Whilst in there i listened to my messages, noticing a missed call, expecting it to be yet another PPI call, but no, this was a fantastic call, it was from Bob Jackson Cycles to say that my new frame was painted and could i ring to arrange payment and delivery, you bet i can!
Stage 4 was undertaken with new enthusiasm,,i was so excited about my frame, i annoyed Tim mile after mile saying "Guess what?......my frames ready" he politely humoured me as he could see i was quite excited. i can't really remember what the roads were like, we had stopped at Stubbington for a long time and it was quite chilly so a distraction was quite welcome. Denmead, our next control gave another opportunity for Tim to blag a post office stamp to save us buying anything, which he did.
Stage 5 was undulating, in a nice way, pain of long slog uphills but followed by long down hills, this was to be the last stage in daylight, the scenery was pretty and vast, the view across the surrounding farmland went on forever and it felt like we could have been in any time of Britain's history, the reminders of the 21st century of course being the occasional car sweeping past us. The temperature was dropping significantly and as we approached our penultimate control we were feeling the cold. The control was to be another fuel station. To warm us up we scoffed warmed pasty things and drank hot chocolate, after some faffing we put on extra layers and lights and prepared ourselves for the final 40K.
Stage 6 roads were remote and were made to feel more remote by the declining light, we could have been anywhere, it felt like so many of our other adventures, always finishing in the middle of nowhere in the dark in peaceful surroundings with only the drone of our thoughts and voices to keep us company. The stage went quickly as we chatted about all sorts of things and the miles evaporated, very rarely encountering a car, We pretty much stumbled into Hungerford, there were a couple of cattle grids and then the car park, we had been bumbling along so happily that it was no effort, except a pretty serious hill not long before Hungerford but it was OK.
A surprise met us in the car park in the form of Aid who had originally found this ride and had planned to be riding it with us, was in the car park waiting for us. For our last POP we decided to go into the pub for a drink and a chat with Aid.
Overall a great ride, really enjoyable and the weather was the best we could have been blessed with given the current climate.
Quick Blast on the mountain bike.
Having listened to Tim explaining the merits of "stealing" routes from strava i found a route from "The Guardian" newspaper which was right by my house.
It comprised mostly of Cycle route 4 and 52 but looked like a nice 15 mile route along tow paths. Tried to get up early Sunday morning to give it a go, with the clocks changing this was tough but i got going eventually.
It was lovely being out before the dog walkers, there was a light frost on the ground but i was warm enough. i quickly thought that this route would be ideal for my single speed but not wanting to move my gps mount onto it again i used my elite which, in hindsight, was probably a good thing as i was still a little sore form the 200K ride a couple of days previous.
The route took in some of Dorney rowing lake which it turns out is still not fully accessible following the Olympics, this was to provide some tricky obstacles, namely barbed wire fences.
i cut the ride short as church was early today to make way for a special "Open to all" Easter service afterwards.
I concluded that this would be a great ride for the family when the weather is a little warmer.
A new addtion
This week i was also distracted by acquiring a little project, a 1993 Clockwork Orange, it's in pretty ropey condition having had a chequered life, originally being raced at a high level i am lead to believe.
This had the potential to be a clean up and sell on kind of ride but it's in too bad a condition for that. I'd always wanted a clockwork orange, it was the bike that sparked my interest in Orange mountain bikes when i was a teenager, they were the stuff of legends, they didn't make them when i bought my Evo otherwise i would have purchased one then. I have already had thoughts on having a retro year of cycling next year, mainly road riding some beautiful vintage road rides in Europe but i may consider restoring this little gem and doing some retro mountain bike events too. By chance it turns out that the cycle shop that is painting my new bike also paints Orange bikes for Orange as and when they need them to, so they have the correct colours and decals so i can see where this could be going in the future :-) for now though i have covered it in WD40 and it can sit for a while before i try and get the seatpost out which is jammed, then I'll take it from there. It occurred to me that i now own 3 generations of orange mountain bikes 93,03 and 2012, so i suppose i will have to keep it.
Target for the week: 150K
Total distance achieved: 219k