This audax had a funny start, in that the start wasn't the start. We parked in the Pretty Pigs car park and then had to cycle just under a K to the start control (Tesco's in Tamworth). Then we re-traced our path and cycled straight past the car park again and headed on our way. Quite a bizarre start to an audax event. Pleasant lanes were cycled during this early stage which were quite undulating in manner. The weather was mostly fine, certainly warm. Just before we reached the Bosworth battlefield site it started to rain and we layered up.
Before too long we stopped and removed layers because the rain had held off and it was still very warm. Half way through the first stage another battle could have been fought - the route led through a deep ford. We all decided to play 'chicken' and took the bridge across. About a further 20k took us to the first control in Wistow and on our arrival some bright shiny happy flowers popped up as if to say 'hello'.
We all tucked into a Wistow big breakfast at this first control. The food was nice, but it wasn't really 'big'. Aid and I had a 'big' breakfast during our Banbury Cross audax last week. Chris was convinced that an old man on a neighbouring table was drunk. This old man told us that we were going to cycle the highest hills in the Midlands.
So hard was the rain that it hurt as it beat against our lips. Thunder and lightning were round about too. Further battles had to be fought. Some cows were blocking our route. Ron punctured. A steam roller could have flattened us ...
Despite the torrential rain, wet feet, aches and the like, we cycled on in good spirits. All these battles had an impact on us and at the 100k mark we were behind our anticipated time. One more battle, a fight with a water elemental, was fought before we reached control.
The control was a local village stores in Guilsborough. I stocked up on water supplies here and munched on a bar of chocolate too. Was only another 20k until we reached Upper Stow.
The control in Upper Stow was the Barn Cafe at The Old Dairy Farm. This control was awesome. Not only did they provide wonderful food (double chocolate cheesecake and ice cream for me), they provided good service too. A heater was bought out so we could warm up and dry clothes. One of the staff took the picture below too.
Stage 3 took us from Upper Stow to Wellsbourne. The route continued with it's undulating fashion and the rain continued to hammer down with brief periods of respite. Lots of country lanes were followed which was nice. At one point I had a further battle with a puncture. The offending thorn was found and removed. Within minutes a new tube was fitted and we sped along nicely to a Shell Service Station, our next control.
Have used the Shell Service Station a number of times on different audax routes now. Despite essentially just being a 'gas station', it provided a place to rest, get fed and toilet. Bargain! More food was guzzled down here (sausage roll and pork pie for me) and then we continued on the final leg.
The final leg was roughly 62k from Wellsbourne back to the start in Amington. By now the rain had passed and the sun was brightening things up. No need for waterproof layers now. The roads were a little less undulating and I felt as though we were travelling along at a faster pace. The sun set during this stage which was a little shock to us all. We had expected to finish before it got dark - silly us! No worries, we had taken precautions. Each of us had a rear light! Sadly, we didn't all finish with rear lights! Chris's light bounced off his saddle bag and was no more. Most of us had front lights - Aid was the chap without. We took turns cycling in front and behind Aid to provide a suitable light source for him. If I remember correctly, Chris's front light failed before the finish too. We had successfully navigated through and past Beausale, Honiley, Balsall Common, Berkswell and Maxstoke before the next battle. The next battle was between Ron and his bike - the bike won and Ron fell off! Luckily Ron wasn't hurt at all, and I'm still no sure what really happened (probably cleat stuck). The final push took us back to the start, which wasn't really the start - the Pretty Pigs car park. Aid and Ron packed here, so never really completed event (ha!). Chris and I cycled along for about 1 further k to the ATM machine at the official start point (Tesco's) to get our final proof of passage. I stopped at the pub next door too to purchase a bag of nuts for us all and provide a receipt for Ron's proof of passage. Chris and I then cycled back to Aid and Ron. Woo hoo, we had all completed the 2 Battles Permanent!
During this event we cycled 212k (132 miles) in just under 13 hours.