Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Willy Warmer 200

Hooraahh!! No rain! But that is because we got sleet instead.

It may not have been that bad, but for somebody who wears glasses, rain or sleet is twice as bad as for those who don't wear glasses. First you have the rain in itself, then you have the droplets settling on your lenses. So you already have double the dose there. It may have stopped raining hours ago, but the spectacles wearer doesn't realise this until you are so fed up, you go to shelter in a bus stop. As you sit down and clean your glasses, you look up ... hear nothing, see dead flat puddles without ripples .... Oh! Typical, its just stopped raining! Every time, every time, you go and take a break from the rain it just stops! In reality, you've experienced not only double the dose, but double the dose in time also!

The trouble with sleet also, is the temperature of course. Its going to be around freezing right? So my tweeting got a bit weird. It became a little cryptic, SOS like. I didn't bother with capitals anymore. With shivering hands, you do a staccato on the keypad. Hitting the capitalisation button just twice is not easy. After trying to get it right and hitting that key probably and involuntary about 7 times, I thought nobody would care about capitals anyway. Anything that needed extra key strokes got left out, that is why the mileage was dropped also. So next time you see a: "halfway hungerford", please ready: "Freezing cold, hungry, can't see, don't ask, probably in Hungerford, probably around halfway ... I think".

A huge thanks to Anton. We cycled the whole way around together. We took turns to shout hole! pothole! hole left! hole right! hole middle! manhole! There were potholes left, right and centre. Centre?

We had some excellent views of kites. There were some low flying ones, but the one hunched on an antenna, calling to another, was unusual.

I did stop to take a picture of pheasants and partridges on the back of a truck. Anton, as a vegetarian, was appalled. There were many shoots going on, it is a little unnerving to hear those gun shots around you.

We said a quick hello to Iddu at the Hungerford Tutti Pole (nobody calls it that), and had a quick snack outside the bakery. That must be where I did the in-voluntary staccato in C minor.

It is really nice to now know so many people, compared with 3 years ago. And the world of audax is blurring with FNRttC, with Tim, Andrij and Pavel present.

This map gives an idea of the route: Chalfont St Peter, Henley, Pangbourne, Lambourne, Hungerford, Kingsclere, Risely, Winnersh, Chalfont St Peter

Double click to enlarge

A few pictures are on the slideshow till the next ride or here:Clicky

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Poor Student 200

Being able to turn down your car windscreen wiper speed from constant to intermittent can never be as enjoyable as when you're driving to the start of an audax. Earlier I had been woken up, before the alarm went off, by the sound of torrential rain. By the time I got to Oxford it had stopped raining altogether. Against all forecasts, we didn't get another drop of rain.

I detected many patterns on this ride.

It seems no audax is complete these days without the sight of MattC, at the start and at the finish.

MattC with DaveB at the start

Then, about an hour into the ride, as has happened on several rides, from behind me, comes my BCM 2009 angel Mel. We had a good chat, talked about PBP, of course. Then, he goes off into the distance, not to be seen again, till one hour into the next ride.

And just like on the Severn Across last year, about two thirds into the ride, I link up with Ray. Another of my heros. I love his audax and PBP stories, and his sense of humour.

Talking about thirds, this ride certainly was a games of three halves! During the first leg (Oxford to Malmesbury) there was a head wind. If, as forecasted, the wind was 23km/h and I'm doing 18km/h, I should be going backwards, right? It certainly felt like it! The second leg (Malmesbury to Chipping Camden) was hilly, not too bad, I didn't have to walk, but I was already sapped from energy from the first leg. Then the last leg was cold. At Chipping Camden, Ray gave me heat pads to put into my gloves. Brilliant, it certainly helped and I'll be getting some of those for myself.

I learned from Eddy Merckx' book not to look at average speed. But on this ride, I couldn't help looking at the stats my GPS was giving. Average speed was going down, down, down. And I don't know how long my distance stayed at 185km before it clicked to 186. It seemed like hours!

I've never drunk so much fluid on a winter ride, and weighing myself in the evening I had lost 1kg.

Still, I loved the whole day. Meeting up with known riders (like Manotea, LEE, Martin, speedy Howard, RichF, ...), meeting new ones like Tim and Emily, and Nick Windle. Heard a tawny owl, and a bird I couldn't immediately identify, then settled for the sound being from a yapping dog. The outdoor pigs were a wonderful sight. They were springing about like spring lambs. The herd of muntjac deer I had to wait for was another great sight.

There are a few more pictures on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky
And have a look at these magnificent photos by underseer: Clicky

Its a great ride, and if anyone wonders what it would be like in the summer, here is a picture from a July version