Tuesday 9 September 2014

New Forest On and Off shore 200

Last week saw me complete the New Forest On and Off shore audax. This was a 200k event organised by W J Ward. I had looked forward to this event for some time.

I did very little cycling the week before, in fact, I don't think I cycled at all. My preparation for this event was poor - in my haste to leave home and get further South, I had forgotten some of my kit. My camera and my gillet was amongst the stuff I forgot.

I stayed over at my sister Jane's the night before as I had to start the event at silly o'clock. Indeed, I left Jane's at about 5 a.m. to get to Lymington for about 7 a.m. Once in a long stay car park in Lymington, I met up with my partner-in-crime 'Chris' and we readied our steeds for the adventure that lay ahead. We had to cycle about 2k to get to the official start in Lymington - the ferry port.

This event was quite strange in that it had 2 official starts - the other start was in Yarmouth where Isle of Wight cyclists started from. Chris and I departed at 7.15 a.m. on the ferry from Lymington and arrived at Yarmouth at 8.55 a.m. There were a whole bunch of cyclists cycling this event and there were a whole bunch more cycling smaller versions of 150 and 100k respectively. About 54 cyclists had opted for the full 200k version. Such was the mist/fog we had like no visibility on the ferry crossing and once in Yarmouth we had minimal visibility. The first stage was considered a warm up and took us to a checkpoint in the Needles. Only 8k in and my chest was hurting with all the huffing and puffing.
The mist/fog hid this sight from our eyes
The second stage descended from the Needles and it was hands on brake levers as the mist had not yet lifted and cyclists still making there way to the first control had to be avoided. It was good for Chris and I to reminisce on our past adventure around the Isle of Wight as we passed many familiar landmarks. As we cycled through the mist, I was covered in a light film of water. As we passed through Freshwater and on to Bembridge the mist finally dissipated and the bright sun shone. The first proper control was a cafe situated next to the shore. A couple of girls were swimming in the sea and a new lifeboat station graced the shoreline too. We couldn't be bothered to queue for food in the cafe so we went next door and consumed some ice creams. Delicious.
Stage 3 took us through Ryde. We really did ride in Ryde despite there being no fresh water in Freshwater. Groan. This stage involved another ferry crossing. This crossing was on a chain ferry and hence a short crossing. The crossing took us to Cowes. Cows that we couldn't milk. Groan again. We then had to race to get to the main ferry as it departed only once every hour. Only we didn't race because I wanted to stop and eat some sarnies first. Chris would have groaned and moaned if we missed the ferry due to my eating habits. However, please note, if we were not to cross on the ferry it was because Chris had lost his ticket! With a bit of 'gift of the gob' we managed to get Chris on board. Am sure this was the first time I had been on a ferry with a stow-away! After a good hour and half we were back at Lymington. This felt strange - it felt like we had finished yet we had another 100k to go.
The organiser stated that the 2nd 100k was much easier than the first 100k and said the last 50k was fast and flat. Not sure I totally agree. Both Chris and I started stage 4 racing around the New Forest but both feeling pretty drained. Despite the fact we were zoomy, we were knackered. I think the lack of 'real' food and/or decent controls had meant that we were cycling on empty. The views were nice here and the roads pretty fine. We had talked about the possibility of cycling this event single-speed (as some others had) but at this stage we were pleased we hadn't. About half-way through this second 100k we reached the control. Yay, food we thought! Sadly the pub was only serving chips - oh and pickled eggs. We ate both, downed with some coke and soon felt much better! I also took some ibuprofen as my right knee had started niggling again (it did this on my previous 600k event). This stop was nice as we chatted with some folk that we had previously chatted with on other cycling events.
Hilliness profile
The last stage was relatively flat and fast. I very much liked cycling along the coast again. The smell of sea air often pleases my olfactory senses. We managed to finish whilst it was still day light and were awarded with pasta, tea and cake for so doing.
GPX track log
All in all, a great ride and am pleased this event completed my RRtY award (also completed in 2011 and 2013). Nice having ferry crossings on a 200k ride and quite scenic too. I liked this ride but think the Dorset Coast 200 is a better event that has ferry crossings and lots of coast side cycling too.

During the course of the week, I received an email from the MadeGood folk about the LEL documentary/film they are creating. They inform the film is about 90% complete now and are attempting to get funding for music and audio mastering. Apparently they are waiting for somebody to finish the music for a trailer. How exciting.

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