Wednesday 28 March 2012

The Dean 300

I had a 'Sneezing Panda' moment on the way to Oxford (Sneezing Panda).  It was going to be a glorious day.  I was looking forward to the day's cycling, the Dean 300, my favourite ride.  How wonderful, I thought, a full day's worth of doing your favourite thing.  Forecast was fantastic.  I was hoping for scenery, sunshine and skylarks and knew that I was going to get all of that.  I was basking in anticipated, but guarded, enjoyment.  300km is a long way, a lot can happen, I know that much.  And I was loving Rob da Bank's show on the radio.  A bonus of early Oxford starts on a Saturday, is listening to Rob da Bank. He was playing some great new tunes.  When he summoned the 'Six O'Clock Cockerel' is when I had my 'Sneezing Panda' moment.  Six o'clock!  But that is the start of the ride! And I'm in the car! What am I doing here?  I knew it was a six o'clock start.  I can still see it on the route sheet as I was laminating the sections.  How come I'm still on the road?

It is the years of audax experience that told me to consider the options calmly.  I had allowed myself 45 minutes fettling time, so I was still going to arrive with the organiser present at the start.  Getting hold of the brevet card is all that needed to be done.

45 was reduced to 15, and I was off.  Soon, in the wonderful misty landscape with the sun trying to come through.

All that mist has a golden lining!  I was lantern rouge.  No doubt about it.  As a novice audaxer, I thought being the lantern rouge was a bad thing - it signalled failure to me.  Words like 'bad thing' and 'failure' do not exist in the audax language.  Being the lantern rouge is something to aim for!  And now, I had given it to myself on a plate.  Congratulations!

First control, Stow.  Ahh, fabulous.  It had already been wonderful with scenery and skylarks.  And it was going to get even better when the sun comes through!

I sat on the pavement eating breakfast with a milkshake.  I noticed how red my shins were.  Strange.  A cyclist arrives.  It's Lycra Man!  I was so pleased to see him.  My second reaction was lantern rouge related.

I pointed out my red shins.  How can you get burnt in the fog and with the sun behind you?

Lycra Man can set quite a pace.  And me on my racing bike, managed to keep up with him.  Soon we were in the next control and caught up with other riders, Bez, Julian, Pete....  I have the last of my lantern rouge thoughts.

The Dean is the most fantastic ride.  If you had visitors and wanted to show off the country side, you could drive them around the route.  I struggled to visualise that though.  The thought of sitting in a car for 300km put me off.  Cycling 300km is ok, but driving it seems like a marathon. Odd, no?

Stephen under Blackpool Bridge
You'd certainly have to stop at Blackpool Bridge: "The only Roman Road junction with the original road surface still intact" - Bike 99 Site.  I hadn't taken notice of that bridge before.  Just like I had never spotted the water mill in Upleadon.

On two occasions, I tried to take pictures of birds.  On both occasions, a car drove past at the right time to scare off the birds.  Aaaargghh!!  Cars!!  Those things that get me to and from an audax ...  While I was in angry mood, I brooded on a phrase that is being used more and more: 'raw honey'.  Makes me so angry!!  Honey is honey.  It is only because the commercially accepted norm is to sell heat treated honey, that they have to add a word to indicate it has not been heat treated.  They never called it 'heat treated honey' did they.  And what's the opposite of raw?  Cooked?  You don't get cooked honey, why would they use the word raw?  It's honey extracted from the comb with nothing added, nothing taken away, nothing done to it.  I do agree, that it is the best.  A type of 'Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé' type of campaign would be appropriate.  Freshly extracted honey is the very best.  So if you know a local beekeeper, ask them when they might be extracting next (they will not tell you an exact date!), and ask if you may buy a couple of jars - pay them generously, it's worth it.  That freshly extracted honey flavour, smell and texture, last around 10-20 days I'd say, depending of the time of the year and locality.

Forest of Dean
Big thank you to the organiser.  Thank you to the Solihull CC rider, for the company whilst completing the last legs in the dark.  I appreciated us chatting along as it was getting colder and colder.

Other thoughts:
  • fancied ice cream in Chepstow
  • no problems climbing upto Somerset Monument
  • being on my racing bike reminded me why I bought an audax friendly bike
  • seeing the tandem and waving at Chris.  Sorry to have missed fboab.  
  • cold feet first and last thing
  • seeing Jason leaving Stow in opposite direction
Photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky
Also nice photos by fboab: fboab's pictures


Anonymous said...

Hi Else

Enjoyed your blog. Thanks for the ride home. Hardly depressed at all

I tried to post my report for the club on your comments but it was too long. Pity.

Dave McHale Solihull CC

Anonymous said...

The i pad werkt weer : dus direct Bengskes rapport lezen en foto's bekijken!
Gelukkig is alles in orde gekomen na het misverstand ivm het uur!
Leuk verslag en mooie foto's.
Het alinea over de honing klopt perfect!!!
Volgende keer zorgen dat je warme voetjes hebt hé.
Meim en Peip xxx xxx

Kris said...

Je fietste " van Roeselare naar Brussel en terug ". en dat lijkt idd ver met de auto. Je fietste een halve 600km audax. Dat maakt het zo relatief. Mooie karaktervolle reflecties in je repport... chappeau!!