Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Now, for most sane individuals, 'doing diy on a Sunday' normally involves power tools and at least one trip to B&Q (usually 2 or 3 in my case, because I can never get what I need in one visit). In my case, the day after the Welland Wonder 50, it meant designing and riding your own 200km course.

Luckily, the nearest Midlands Mesh node (and start point) is only 10km away at Measham so all of my rides so far have gone that way. On this occasion, the route was to be Measham-Alcester-Stow-Stratford-Home for a total of 213km and another 2 points toward my target of 50 for the year.

I sort of know the road to Alcester from Orienteering, and from those days when the commute to work doesn't go quite right, but I was surprised to find that the hills I expected to struggle on were going quite well. Approaching Lapworth Hill I noted a guy on a 'sit up and beg' style bike ahead up the slope. Those who know me are aware that I am not in the least competitive (NOT!) so I set off after him at a rate of knots. And didn't catch up at all. I gave it loads along the flatter section at the top. And didn't catch up at all. It was only on the descent toward Henley-in-Arden that the full force of descending lard ate into his lead, and I had almost caught up when he turned off at the bottom. Only to reveal that the bike was electrically assisted!! Lesson learned I slowed for a couple of miles whilst my lungs caught up with my heart rate, but it did lead to an earlier than anticipated arrival in Alcester, and a receipt from the ubiquitous Tesco Express.

Leaving through the town centre was pleasant and very half-timbered, and the subsequent drag past Ragley Hall very picturesque, as was the Avon crossing in Bidford on Avon. From there its a straight road south toward the edge of the Cotswolds and Saintbury Hill at 102km in. This is a 200m climb in just over 2km with a maximum gradient of about 1:6 and is a rude awakening. Nonetheless its better than Fish Hill which is gentler and longer but beset with traffic.

Having started at 6:20 I was please to reach Stow before 12 for a lunch stop at......Tescos (again), but soon set off back toward Stratford in an effort to get home at a reasonable hour. Stratford was busy with Classic Hot Rods leaving Long Marston after their weekend festival, but was soon left behind for the now familiar lanes back toward Tamworth.

200km came up in 9:12 elapsed time, and my time of 9:52 for the whole 213km is the fastest I have ever ridden a 200. Perhaps I should warm up with a 50km ride the day before all of them.

Or perhaps not.

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