This was my very first time on the bike for the full 200km. I spent all week trying to work out what could go wrong and preparing. I went out and bought Rain Legs and a new waterproof and everything! I emailed to-and-fro with Tom, the organiser, trading questions and answers, hints and tips.
The big day came and went: I managed to get around in time, and in one piece, just about! After the fact I sent Tom this email, which is the basis of my first ride report.
Well, you said it would be an adventure and it was!
I started in dark and mist from Cambridge and couldn't get my legs in gear (for some reason – perhaps McMuffins aren't a good breakfast to ride on?), so the run down to Dunmow took over an hour longer than anticipated. Doing the mental sums I figured that I was only just above the minimum speed and that I would be heading towards a DNF if I didn't manage to pick the pace up (which I did manage to do).
The section up to Potton had a part tail wind and I built a buffer, although the run out to Chatteris and back was unpleasant in cross winds and driving rain. My final time was 13:13 (I think), which is a long way off what I thought I would do (and it's always interesting to learn), but in my defence …
It was forecast a few hours of sun after the mist burned off, but it went straight from mist to drizzle just before Stansted Mountfitchet. The wind blew up half an hour later and as it was from the east then didn't really help after Potton. Later, as the drizzle had turned to full-on rain, it was a proper slog out to Chatteris and back in the dark and driving rain. There was standing water on all roads everywhere: one lane was closed because it was properly flooded and several were flooded but passable.
The Earith section was closed to recover a vehicle that had gone into the river (no fatalities, although they required resuscitation apparently), but I argued hypothermia with the policeman and he let me walk past the scene.
And I was on a Brompton (but you knew that).
Some take-aways that I took from this:
- A few minutes' faff really impacts on average times.
- Rain makes working with bags and maps and route sheets take much longer, and getting cold, wet gloves back on takes an age (and a force of will).
- Waterproofs aren't completely waterproof – even if they are then you still need to stop water coming in around the edges (I was totally drenched through, in spite of new or nearly-new waterproofs).
- Eating is a problem on long, lonely sections where all the shops are closed. And even eating enough is a problem without feeling sick (my HRM reckoned I burned just short of 8000kcal, which is a lot of food to take in on the ride).
- And it would be nice to have someone to talk to and pace against.
As with all these things: today I am thinking "never again", or at least "not any time soon", but tomorrow I will be planning my next one, eager to go, anticipating better planning and improving my ride based on what I learned from yesterday
The route sheet was great, once I learned to trust it!
- Distance = 219.34km
- Full duration = 13h13m
- Stoppage = 2h27m
- Overall average speed = 219.34km / 13h13m = 16.6kph
- Moving average speed = 219.34km / 10h46m = 20.4kph
- Maximum speed 44.9kph