Friday 29 March 2013

Solent-Hungerford 200k permanent audax

Despite freezing conditions, I managed to get out and cycle a number of times this week. I wasn't going to let a little snow, ice and such menace ruin my Easter holiday. In all I cycled on 4 different occasions and even managed to start and complete a 200k audax!

My first adventure was a route stolen from another Strava user. I (re)named this route the 'AM SR 1' route. A great ride (only modified a little) and local too. Despite cycling a number of years now, this stolen local route covered roads I don't think I had ridden before. Of course the route covered roads that I have cycled many times before too. Best thing about this ride was the fact that it was virtually all on country lanes. A map of said route is presented below:
The second adventure I cycled was also stolen from the same Strava user. This Strava user, I presumed, had ridden this route with members of Redditch Road and Path Cycling Club (RRPCC) as he had entitled the route 'RRPCC Ride to Bredon'. I made this route my own and changed the beginning section and renamed it 'Doo's Ride to Bredon (DR2BREDON)'. My route is presented below:
This was a nice route and once again ridden on lanesy roads. At times I could see The Malvern Hills which were covered in snow. These snow covered peaks reminded me of New Zealand (or Middle Earth). Much of this route I had never ridden before but am sure will cycle again. Numerous cyclists were passed on route. Amongst my memories of this cycle was the fact that I saw a place that had reindeer for hire - how bizarre. As I cycled past Beckford Silk it reminded me of 'The Silk Run', an awesome 100k audax. Also, at least 2 pretty bridges were crossed. The one bridge was called 'Jubilee' bridge and I could not remember the name of the other. I really will have to cycle this 90k jaunt again!

The audax I cycled was the 'Solent-Hungerford 200' and was a permanent event organised by Alan Rayner. As the name suggests, it was a 200k affair. I guess I should have renamed this permanent as the 'Hungerford-Solent 200' as I cycled it this way around. Chris Hodge joined me on this adventure. Aid was hoping to join us both (and is credited for 'finding' this event) on this adventure but he had a case of man-flu (or possibly cyrophobia). Our route is presented below:
We started the audax from Hungerford Train Station, using the parking ticket for our first proof of passage (POP), the ticket cost £2.40 for all day parking. It was a cold start but much improved over recent days - the average temperature was 2C throughout the day. The cold was kept away by my layering which included a new merino wool jersey and my 'Blue Peter' insoles. These insoles were made out of cereal box, covered in foil and laminated - result, near toasty feet. The first stage took us to Ludgershall over some very fine country lanes. These roads reminded me of France, they were long, lovely and traffic free. Chris stopped to perform a weird kind of Ali G type dance at one landmark. We both used the Post Office stamp for our POP.
The second stage took us to Romsey. As we both cycled along it was easy to think about our adventure to the Isle of Wight, especially as we were cycling some of the same roads. At about 50k into the ride I suddenly spotted the place where we ate the best buffalo burger in the world - the Broughton buffalo burger! This place was a pub just outside Broughton. (So great was this burger that Chris and I both ate on the way to said Isle that we attempted to find the same pub on our return. We never did find the pub because we were looking in Broughton for it.) No Broughton buffalo burger was eaten on this adventure (was too early and the pub not yet open), however, location of pub noted! During this stage we passed my names sake.
The next stage took us to the Solent. Much of this stage was nice but parts were quite nasty too where the route passed through busier roads. As we neared the control (in Stubbington) the roads became much nicer and became coastal. We passed a coastal area called 'Chilling' which was most apt as it started to get quite chilly by the Solent. The Solent (which is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England) was quite picturesque, even with Chris standing there.
We stopped to eat at a cafe called Donny's. This was a welcome break and our only real sit down and eat stop. We both tucked into a Lancashire hot pot. I don't think I looked to whacked at the half way point.
A short pedal of about 20k took us to the next control in Denmead. We used the Post Office here for our POP. I don't think I've made such use of the Post Office this many times on an audax event before.

The most difficult section of the ride was between Denmead and Sutton Scotney. The ride itself was not so difficult, it was just that this section was certainly the most undulating and hence had more inclines. Most inclines were followed with a swift descent. After much 'bobbing' we reached the control. We used a local garage as our control and had a stand up and eat stop. I ate a nasty pasty thing and washed it down with a nicer cup of hot chocolate.

When we left Sutton Scotney it was getting dark so lights were turned on and reflective jackets worn. It was a completely different ride now - we could see very little. This section was spent chatting about everything and nothing and the miles seemed to lap up quickly. One final climb and a couple of cattle grids crossed and we were back at the start in Hungerford Train Station. Wow, what a great ride! Just before I reached my car to pack up, I heard someone shout 'Miggy'. This threw me for a while as it sounded like my brother (Dave) but it was in actual fact Aid. We ended up all having a drink together and discussed plans of a 100k ride entitled 'To the Broughton Buffalo Burger and back'! Ha!

My final Easter cycle was a lap around the 'AM SR 1' route. I raced around this route and completed it in a very respectful time. Snow could still be seen on the roadside and on the tops of the hills. Before I finished the route I spotted a Mad March Hare - how apt I thought, an Easter bunny in mad snowy conditions. I also spotted a jack/monk deer which I hadn't seen in a while. Nice.

Very pleased I was able to cycle a total of 376k this week. My LEL target for the week was 150k. My total distance this year now stands at 2,253k.

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