Sunday 15 January 2012

The Cotswold Corker....

The start of this week was much like last week. I cycled the Deer Route again, only this time with the 'usual goons'. This time round, it was warm and dry. Oh why did I invest in Winter tyres?

This weeks major challenge was the Cotswold Corker, a 100k permanent audax event scoring 1.75 AAA points. This was my third time riding this event, though the first time I cycled the route it was a calendar event. This time, I used my mountain bike too. Each time has not been without incident.

The hill at Bushcombe Lane had beaten me on previous attempts. This hill is a 25% climb and stretches for about 3k. To make things worse, this hill is encountered within the first few k of the start. This time round, I decided to save this hill to last and start my event from the second control in Winchcombe.

Starting out from Winchcombe seemed like a better idea all round. Finding somewhere to park was much easier (and only cost £1 all day). Although familiar with the route, I missed the first turn at the start and added an additional 2k. I missed the turn because the actual road was closed off for repairs. I cycled along the closed road all the same. A hilly affair (this hill being second to Bushconmbe Lane) took me to the control at Guiting Power.

Perhaps the nicest lanes took me from Guiting Power to Northleach. Northleach is a very pretty market town and makes for an ideal control. An old chap stopped to admire my bike and asked if he could pick it up. He said he was impressed with the weight and then we got into story telling about the hills in the area. He alleged he cycled Bushcombe Lane Hill on a 3 speed steel bike back in his day. That was my cue to leave...

Very pretty lanes were cycled again all the way to Daglingworth. This ride being very undulating in nature.    A ring twitching descent to said control.

Much menace to next control at Bisley. Horses were the first problem, they were taking up much of the road and passing them was difficult. Then, the road I needed to cycle was closed. Like before, I cycled the road anyway. This was fun, I had to zig-zag from left to right to avoid freshly laid tarmac and had to dodge heavy machinery and work men. At times, a little off-roading had to be incorporated. Reached the control at Bisley and got an actual cycling stamp for my brevet card. I also stopped at a pub just round the corner and had scampi and cheeps for my lunch. Delicious!

If I remember correctly, it was during the Bisley - Andoversford section that I saw a snake the last time I cycled this audax. No snake was seen today, however, I saw a deer and a bird of prey close up. Bumpy, lumpy and undulating all the way to the control. Stopped at control to catch my breath, stretch my legs and ring my girl friend fiancee.

The route sheet informed that the next control would be Winchcombe. I remember getting lost here last time I cycled the event, so extra care was taken following the instructions (destructions?). I was supposed to descend by Belas Knap, but just like last time, this didn't happen. (I even asked folk on route the whereabouts of Belas Knap but nothing materialised). The last instruction before alleged control stated 'TR @ B4632 $ WINCHCOMBE - 1km'. I followed this command, but Winchcombe was 8 miles away not 1k! Grr! I headed towards Winchcombe all the same and viewed further instructions on the route sheet.

After Winchcombe control, the route sheet stated 'Retrace on B4632 - to climb Cleeve Hill to then descend to Rising Sun Inn where TR desc Gambles Lane (care 25%)'. Well, I was climbing said Cleeve Hill and Gambles Lane was on my left! I decided not to cycle on to Winchcombe (temporarily missing control) but followed Gambles lane to reach control in Bishops Cleeve. I took a photo of bike next to Bishops Cleeve sign post as proof of passage.

The final leg was a real slog and much menace. I found a 25% hill and started to climb, but it wasn't Bushcombe Hill! Locals directed me to the next right turn, where I found the dreaded Bushcombe Hill. This hill was so tough. I started to climb, moving through my gears, then horrors! My chain had slipped off the largest rear cog and was caught between cassette and spokes. The chain did not want to sit on largest cog, so cycling resumed with me in 2nd gear, not my desired first. I cycled a short way and then sadly stopped. Bushcombe Hill had beaten me a 3rd time. Grr. Pushed bike to top of Hill (and that was an effort in itself) and was about to descend but noticed my front tyre was flat! How long had this tyre been flat? Was that excuse for not climbing hill?! With only 7k or so to go (plus fact it was now dark), I did not fix puncture but just used gas to inflate tube with hope it would see me to the end. A great descent took me all the way to Winchcombe. I stopped at the Winchcombe sign post to take photo for proof of passage (for the 'missed' control). Hmm, hope the photo comes out, it was rather dark. Continued to car park, the arrivee, where I stopped to get a bag of chips, using the receipt for my last proof of passage! Woo too, job done! Buschcombe

During Cotswold Corker, cycled a total of 105.4k (65 miles), in approximately 8 hours.

This latest Cotswold Corker turned out to be a real menace. Not only did I not beat Bushcombe Lane Hill and suffer ridicule from Ron, I also had a puncture to fix. Worse still, I lost my camera with a few proofs of passage contained therein. Grr!
Only ran once this week. The effects of Christmas are becoming apparent - I have put on much weight, gotten fatter and am developing man boobs ('moobs'). Was out of puff for the whole route. I ran with SJ, who seems to keep getting fitter as I keep getting fatter. We ran our 678 Route. It was very cold, -1C in fact, and I felt uncomfortable the whole way. The river and weir looked spooky with a cold mist hanging just above. Was pleased to finish that run and awarded myself with a pack of McVities digestives (perhaps this is where I'm going wrong?)!

You might have noticed Brian (the skeleton) and his bike on a few pictures throughout this latest blog. Brian is SJ's mascot and he has made an appearance to remind all that SJ and I are trying very hard to raise monies for the BackCare charity. Indeed, that's why SJ and I are training so hard and poor SJ has to run the London 2012 Marathon... Please help us to help others, by donating whatever you can here: Many Thanks.

Weekly totals: Cycled 81.5 miles; Ran 5.8 miles.

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