Sunday 10 November 2013

November Rain

Chris and I at the completion of the St. Crispin's Day Night Ride
The photo above was taken at the completion of the St. Crispin's Day Night Ride that Chris and I cycled a few weeks back. It was a great event, albeit somewhat bizarre. It's not very often that one cycle's a 100 miles just to collect a bottle of wine. Oh, and the wine was very crisp and tasty - just ask my wife SJ!
'Cycling is healthy'

My first ride of the week was a MTB jolly with Aid using our single-speeds. Just a short trek but nice to get out and see Aid cycling again. A little dirty following the November rain.

Second ride was a short single-speed MTB trek again. Had wanted to take out my single-speed road bike but noticed she had a flat tyre and a buckled wheel. (Local bike shop fixed buckle at end of week and hoping to ride that bike soon). Remain real pleased with forks and disc brakes.

My longest ride of the week was saved for the weekend. On Saturday, Ron and I (and about 40 others) cycled the 'Mr Pickwick's Cymraeg Cyrch' 200k audax. This was a lovely ride that I completed once before back in 2010.
How many climbs on the Mr Pickwick's Cymraeg Cyrch audax?
According to the organiser et al the route only had one climb. As can be seen from the profile above, the ride had at least 4 notable climbs. Strava indicated that these 4 climbs were 4th category climbs too!

The ride started at Tewkesbury. Ron and I had hoped to make the 7 a.m. start but our leisurely nature forced us to start in the second group which left about 40 minutes later. For a short period, at the start of this first stage, Ron and I cycled in a small group of 4. The other 2 riders were Roy (I think), the 'older guy with the yellow helmet cover' and Ant aka Augustus Gloop. Was pleased Augustus was here - had told Ron about him cycling into the back of me during PBP. Augustus gave Ron a slightly differing account and talked much during this first stage. I think Ron has a wide knowledge base surrounding PBP now! Ron and I pulled back once we had reached Goodrich and spotted the castle. What was not so good about Goodrich was the fact that the November rain was pelting down real hard. I was wearing my new Northwave gore-tex shoes I purchased in the summer (sale) and some Cube waterproof shorts. The shorts were great and I give them top marks. Sadly, and quite disappointingly the shoes let in water after so long. I think water ran over the top of the shoes and made it's way inside. Maybe I should invest in waterproof socks too (I have a pair of SealSkinz but they don't work). Not long after reaching Goodrich we had to cycle off-road tracks along the riverside (by the Forest of Dean) which was fun but dirty and bumpy and wet. After about 10k of this cycle-cross style cycling we hit main roads again and shortly after reached the first control.

The first control was a Wetherspoons pub. We like Wetherspoons and this one did not disappoint! Ron and I both had a large full English breakfast and a hot drink. The pub was up a flight of stairs and at least 3 cyclists fell down these stairs because of their cleats. Menace.

Suitably refreshed, we left Wetherspoons and continued on our journey. The rain had now stopped and everywhere looked bright and fresh. The autumn colours were fantastic, as was the rainbow we spotted. I really enjoyed this stage and wondered how we could cycle so many relatively flat miles despite viewing mountains all around. Many cyclists said they saw snow on some peaks but I didn't spot that. Without too much trouble we reached the next control, the White Hart pub.
Waterproof shorts and (not so) shoes
Had been to this White Hart pub on several occasions before. Ron didn't recognise it which surprised me. Chris and I were here one time when they were serving camel burgers. Today's delight was a steak pie.

Leaving Talybont-on-Usk and cycling to Symonds Yat East was quite an effort. The once flat roads were now quite undulating in nature. Not sure how many times Ron and I cycled that 'only one hill'. Really must have been hilly because Ron never tends to notice hills but on this trip he did! Lots of hills and no AAA points. We momentarily got lost in Monmouth and started to cycle an additional hill before finding the correct path. And a path it was - it was that off-road track we cycled earlier along the riverside. At least this path was flat and despite being very muddy, at least the rain had stopped too! We were both pleased to reach the Saracens Head pub control. On the way out a heavy smell of sewage was here, so pleased it was not on the return journey.

Final leg was in the dark. Ron had a new rear light that would put the Blackpool illuminations to shame. So bright was this light and hypnotic that I had to get Ron to put it on a lower setting - it was proper burning my retina! This final stage was initially undulating again but the occasional fireworks helped distract me from this fact. Plus, I needed a wee and Ron wouldn't let me relieve myself until we caught up another cyclist. After about 15k we reached a cyclist and I was pleased to stop for my much needed comfort break. We again managed to catch this cyclist (and overtake) before to long. Before reaching Tewkesbury, Ron's helmet light failed and my bar light failed. Some strange phenomenon was  happening as other cyclists reported light failure too. With Ron's bar light and my head light we continued on. Once we found signs for Tewkesbury the roads flattened out and we sped along at quite a pace pretty much to the finish!
My GPX track log for the Mr Pickwick's Cymraeg Crych audax
Woo Hoo, another 200k event completed. Our route is presented above. So pleased we finished in a Wetherspoons pub. Ron and I had to celebrate our achievements with Mark (organiser) over much beer and some sweet chilli noodles.

So, what are the scores George Dawes? Well, managed to cycled 267k this week. My yearly total to date is now 11,181k.

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