First some stats from my GPS – Distance Ridden 96 miles (same as last year). Max speed 33.5mph (half a mph slower than last year). Moving time 09:14 (that’s two minutes faster than last year!). Moving average 10.3mph (same as last year). Stopped 1hr 33mins (thats a full 6mins less than last year). Overall average 8.8mph (same as last year).
Now the â€™anorakâ€™ stuff. I rode a standard Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Hardtail. I ran a worn out Specialized Rockster 2.2 on the back @ 40psi, and a worn out Hutchinson Python on the front @ 40psi. I set my Fox RL 80mm forks soft with a slightly quicker than normal rebound so that they would soak up the smaller bumps and save my wrists. I carried 2 spare tubes, a small allen key tool, a Blackburn mini pump, a gillet, a chewy bar, and a bottle with â€˜gearâ€™ in it. I fitted a bloody great bugle horn on my bike, you know, the type with a squeezy rubber ball, it was used a lot. Walkers seem to like it. 😉
Here’s how it went…
The heavy rain overnight had left the going very wet with huge puddles, but I splashed on, and the brisk tailwind meant that I made good progress. On the descent into Queen Elizabeth Country Park it started to rain, just light rain at first, I thought I would make it to the checkpoint without stopping to ‘cape up’. I was wrong, by the time I reached the car park I was cold and wet. I stopped for a cup of tea, and some toast at the team bus (my van). Ten minutes later the rain had stopped, so with warm dry gloves, skull cap, and cape on I was off. It took a good while to warm up again.
By South Harting my back brake sounded awful, and didn’t work no more. The EBC green pads that were less than a month old had worn out, and it was metal to metal (I won’t be buying anymore of those). I called ahead on race radio (moby) to tell the team manager (wife). I rode on, with just a front brake and the natural berms in the descents to slow me down 🙂 By the time I arrived at the A24 road crossing near Washington she had some new pads waiting for me. This was the halfway point, I was well ahead of schedule, and feeling good. A complete change of kit, a brew, and a fettle of the bike and I was totally refurbished and on my way.
Things started to go wrong. The howling tailwind became a nasty gusting crosswind, riding at speed became very difficult. As time went on it seemed to get worse and worse. By Itford Farm I was seriously thinking of retiring as I felt it may be unsafe to go on. I stopped for a brew and studied the map trying to work out how much more exposed crosswind sections there would be. I continued.
The next twenty miles were not a lot of fun really, but I had taken on the challenge, and wanted to see it through. The worst bit was the last 5 miles. What is normally a victory glide along the top of the downs before whooping down into Eastbourne turned into a frightening crawl just trying to stay moving and upright. Even turning downwind for the final descent was scarey as the wind was shoving so hard.
I was glad to arrive at the finish, what a wild ride. I found out later that the TA had measured the wind as 55mph at one of the checkpoints!!! Later still I was astounded to find that I had completed the route two minutes faster than last year!
Thanks to everyone who sponsored me, and special thanks to my wife for looking after me, I couldn’t do it without her 🙂
It was a great weekend. Especially the bit where I had to sort out finding disk brake pads in what seemed like the middle of no-where. But as usual I came up trumps 🙂
Well I hope they don’t run it in May again. I think it’s time for a new challenge – in France I hope 🙂
Hey ya booger … I didn’t plonk down my hard-earned $$$ so that you could swan around in France for 2 months and then quit because the wind was cold. Bloooooody hell Bennett are you getting soft!!
Seriously though… good job, way to stick it out and all those other sickly U.S. expressions. I hope someone said “Looking good” to you at least once as they always do over here.
Good job Carla – wow, “waiting with new brake pads” – you are a lucky man Steve Bennett!!