Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Poor Student

Attached to the wall of my garage is a very nice Trek Madone in a rather fetching mud crust. One day this week, I must get round to cleaning it.

As you can probably tell, last Sunday's Audax was a feast of meteorological excesses. An 8 a.m. start at any time of year some 80 miles from home is going to require a rude awakening. It's even ruder when you realise that its been raining and the roads are filthy. It's ruder still when you drive most of that 80 miles to find that, nearer the event, it was not rain but snow/sleet that was falling.

Thus the promised day of balmy 7 degree forecast temperatures commenced. Oxford dawned to a relatively clear sky, initially watery sunshine, and soggy roads covered in places with a half inch layer of crusty, gritty, icy snow. However, I am bloody-minded, and I had entered, and I have to do a 200 in January, so I started the event with nary a murmur of complaint.

This lasted well through the dreaming spires of the older part of Oxford, and the historic University buildings. It even lasted up Cumnor hill, despite me being among the slower climbers. It didn't last far beyond that, though, as the impact of the 20mph South-Westerly was fully in the face all the way to Malmesbury, and the first proper food stop of the day some 79km distant.

By the time we had arrived in Malmesbury, averaging a measly 20.5kmh, and consumed a leisurely meal, our elapsed average from the start was nearer 18kmh, and the next leg across the Cotswolds did not improve that average overly much. This event only packed in 2,000 Memory Map Metres of climbing, but it seemed much more than that, and the 70km leg to Chipping Campden took 3 hours 15 minutes (21.5kmh with the wind behind). At this point Brett baled for home since it was only 11 miles away, and after a short rest (20 minutes) I set off for the final 58km leg back to Oxford. By this time, it was dark, the wind was again much in evidence, and my bolt was pretty much shot following the initial morning struggle back into the wind.

A darkened lane before Batsford hid a chevroned hill in the gloom beyond my lights, which resulted in the first of two short walks. Moreton, Evenlode and a succession of small villages slowly passed in the murk, and other Audaxers who had spent longer in Chipping Campdens Cafes slowly ground past, lights winking into the far distance, but always seeming to be uphill, despite the overall downhill profile of the last session. A swift descent on an unlit road led to a 'small detour' down a rutted farm track as the road took an unmarked right turn, but rider and bike remained united over the rough stuff, although a second walk was required to the top of the climb as momentum had been lost.

At last, the roads improved, the downhill profile commenced, and a slightly swifter run-in to Oxford services was welcome. Final arrival time was 7:55 p.m. and an elapsed time of 11:55. The last leg of just 58km took an enormous 3 hours 25 (only 17kmh) although there were a couple of faffing stops en route. I'm told Winter rides are harder. I hope to hell that this is true, if not I'm in real trouble as I don't feel I'm going well at all.

The obligatory stats:
Distance covered 208km/129 miles
Average moving speed 18.6kmh/11.5mph
Max speed 60.1kmh/37.3 mph
Cadence average 66, max 102
HR Average 148, Max 170
Calories burned 8,738

Weight on Monday 107.6 (loss of 1.1kg this week)

Only a stoopid loony would do more than one 200km event in January, so I've entered the Mere 200 event on Sunday 25th. Nuff said.

1/4 RTTY and counting

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