Early start (around 6.30 a.m) to the day. Ron kindly picked me up and we made our way to the 'Zurich' building carpark in Cheltenham. Once here we prepared our steads, got equipped with our brevet cards and joined 83 other cyclists ready for the start. Once the clock struck 8 a.m we were off.
Disaster struck almost straight away. Ron and I started off towards the back of the main group, but over the course of the first 3 miles we had slowly edged our way towards the front. Was nice to pass all the other cyclists and do a bit of cycle spotting. There were 4 females, one guy had the same bike as me (go Team Focus!), a couple were riding a tandem and there was the usual mix of ages. But once towars the front - pop! - sss - Ron punctured. This was soon fixed (Ron carried spare tubes and I carried gas pump) but sure enough we were both at the back again. Place names kept me amused, we passed Bishop's Cleeve, Gretton, Greet and Didbrook and made our way to the first checkpoint. The checkpoint consisted of 2 old men who would sign and stamp our brevet cards and congratulate us.
The next leg involved quite a steep hill as we headed towars Bourton-on-the-Water and we started passing cyclists again. Felt great to get to the top and we were awarded with a fast descent. Lightning struck twice - pop! - sss - Ron had punctured again. This was a real menace, but soon fixed again and off we went passing Clapton and Sherborne and making it to the next checkpoint.
Next part of trip was playing catch up, which we did succesfully. We caught a couple of cyclists up around Bibury and cycled together to the next control - Greasy Joe's cafe. Greasy Joe's cafe was awesome. I treated myself to a cyclists breakfast and consumed 2 sausages, 1 egg, 3 rashers of bacon, 2 toast and a plate of chips and beans, all washed down with a mug of tea. Delicious!
From the cafe we cycled as part of a bigger group. This was great because I had a break from navigating for a while. We cycled past places named Ewen, Poole Keynes and Minety. Ron and I were doing well and feeling on form so we left this group behind and relied on my navigational skills to get us to the next control. This was a bad idea. I took us staright past the control at Bushton village hall and made us climb a really steep (1 in 6) and very long hill. After reaching the summit of this hill, the error was noticed and we retraced the route back to said control. This easily added a good 20 mins to our time. Things were put right at the control as we were treated to tea, cake and a banana.
More humourous place names were spotted as we continued the route, passing Compton Bassett, Heddington and Lacock. During one descent I reached speeds of over 40 mph and Ron was faster still, competing with motorised traffic! Continued past Notton, Biddeton, West Yatton, Yatton Keynall, Upper Castle Coombe, The Gibb, Littleton Drew, Acton Turville and finally reached the control at Badminton village hall.
This control was a very welcome stop. Had completed about 75% of route now and once off my bike I could feel I was whacked. I started to hallucinate a little and see stars. My senses returned after consuming more cake, 2 bowls of peaches in syrup, a banana and 2 cups of tea.
The final part of the journey was spent alongside various other cyclists that Ron and I would use to light our way to the end. The sun set shortly after 6 pm and we were not equipped with decent lighting. We passed Luckington, Tetbury, Cherrington, Winstone and Elkstone. A dark and quite fearsome descent took us down Bubb's hill through Prestbury to Southam and then Woodmancote and finally to the finish at a village hall. Woohoo, job done! After spending 9 hours and 20 mins on bike saddle I treated myself to futher flan and tea. Got brevet card signed for final time and now I eagerly await my 200 km audax medal to arrive in the post.
Cycled a distance of 130.42 miles at an average speed of 13.9 mph and a max speed of 40.5 mph.
A further 2 miles had to be cycled to get back to the car at the Zurich building. To refuel, Ron and I paid a quick visit to the Lark in Studley. Much needed alcoholol, chicken nuggets, onion rings and curly fries were consumed as we reflected on the days achievements.