Tuesday 15 May 2012

The Porkers 400

This was the most nervous I have ever been before an audax.    And I don't think I was alone.  There was a vibe at the start.  Everybody has to get a starting receipt, getting the start time to be as close to 2PM as possible.  We couldn't all get a receipt at the same time, so at 5 minutes to 2PM I decided to just do it.  I had a quick look at the print out, make sure all was OK, and saw the time was 14:00 on the dot! Photo below shows Priddy getting a bank receipt.

Poole start
And then we were off.  Getting out of Poole meant the group was soon split up by red traffic lights.  But amazingly, there was re-grouping on and off all the way through to the end.  The first re-group was at The Lobster Pot cafe on Portland Bill.  I ordered a crab sandwich.  George repaired a puncture.  AndyH looked pensive.  A casual cyclist said to AndrewP: "I know you, you come to my fish 'n chip shop".  

The Lobster Pot cafe stop
We were off again and from then on AndrewP and I cycled together for the rest of the ride.  We lost AndyH who had set off with us, but Andrew turned back to find out what was up.  What a hero!  I carried on, as I would be forever worrying about finishing out of time.  Unfortunately AndyH felt it wasn't his day to do the Porkers.  

I am very thankful to Andrew who accommodated my 'must not lose time off the bike' obsession.  When I had the dozies too badly to carry on, I wanted to do my 10 mins kip whilst standing up trick.  This was not a problem to Andrew, he would wait for me!  I shut my eyes for about two minutes when cold hands prevented me from dozing off properly, so we set off again.  There were very cold pockets of air about at night.  Brrrr...

Despite the cold patches, and some headwind at times, the weather was in our favour overall.  It couldn't have worked out better, as it had been raining the whole week before, and on Monday it was raining again.

Below is a photo of another re-group.  It was a milestone to get to 'Hummers' Control'.   I kept hunting for lines of re-assurance: 'We're here on time, we'll be OK now, no?'  Nobody will tell you it will be OK, there is still 150km to go, with plenty of hills, anything can happen.  

Hummers' Control
The number of tweets and photos are correlated to how hard the ride is. Last tweet was at Taunton Deane services at 165km.  The scenery was wonderful, but I don't have any pictures to prove it.   Either you're climbing your heart out, or concentrating on the descent.  Stopping for a picture means time off the bike ... not on this ride!

We had some amazing wildlife experiences, in particular the badger 'display'.  I had already been happy on the 3D to have seen a live badger.  But this was a whole family on the road running ahead of us.  They are the mammal equivalent of partridges, in that they just carry on running in front of you.  No wonder you see so many dead ones on the road.

Priddy, Peter, AndrewP and I finished together.  I was hanging on for dear life at the back!  They would wait for me when necessary, as we were getting into Poole.  Thank you!  But I will never forget that sprint I did so as not get caught in red lights again.  I was crying and laughing at the same time.  After 400km, finishing a hilly ride with a sprint!  We got to the organiser's house and Shawn remarked 'That's how I expect riders to look like when they finish a 400'.  All I wanted to do was to rest my head and put my legs up.

My next line must have been predictable: 'There is no way I could do another 200'.  But it's not looking so bad for the final 600 ride in the series.  We finished with time to spare and the following day, I was already seeing things through rose tinted glasses.

Thank you to all the riders, Hummers, Shawn, Arthur and Christine.   It was a team effort, and one to treasure.  Who would have thought I would write the next line: 'I think I'm beginning to look forward to the Hellfire 600' .. note the 'think' and 'beginning' though ...  I'm not at all sure.

Other notes:
  • 2PM start is unusual, to finish 5PM next day
  • Finding parking was challenging as 24 hour parking is not enough.  Train station was perfect though.
  • Couldn't make use of Arthur's generous middle of the night open house offer
  • Great to see Hummers, and Shawn, at the Winterborne Whitechurch control.  Christmas cake was perfect given the cold temperatures at that spot.  Cycling through the cold is one thing, but standing waiting for people is another, Thank you!
  • At the start, George had pointed out the 6 climbs after Shrewton, on the routesheet.  I had memorised Sixpenny Handley.  'That's the last one' he had said.  
  • We followed the red half moon for a long time
  • 15 entered, 11 started, 7 finished.  Congratulations to the finishers. And I feel for those who didn't.  I had prepared myself to be in that category and told myself to see this event as an 'attempt', to come back to another time if necessary.
Photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here: The Porkers 400 photos


Anonymous said...

Wat een uitdaging om die rit aan te durven en vol te houden!
Je verslag is outstanding!
Wat opvalt is dat je in"team" reed en elkaar gesteund hebt.
De Hellfire zal zeker de kers op de taart zijn: een vurige rit ha! Ha!
Lots of love
Meim en Peip xxx xxx

Hummers said...

Well done m'dear! This is seen as some as the hardest ride of the series and you managed it. Move on to the Heelfire without fear Els.

Anonymous said...

Good ride Els. Chapeau especially for continuing from sunset to sunrise on that cold and starry night. There is enjoyment and satisfaction from completing these harder rides. See you at the start of the Hellfire!
Martin L

Anonymous said...

Good report and photos. I didnt bother with the camera after taking it(and not using it) on the 3D ride.By the way,parking is available in the large Shah of Persia pub car park up the road from the garage.I stayed there before the Hardboiled, and will again before the Hellfire.See you at the start.
Pete Mas(tenko)

Kris said...

Terwijl wij in ons bed liggen te geeuwen, hou jij je "staande rust" van 10 min om niet in slaap te vallen! Zelfs in een auto zou ik na 399 km niet meer wakker kunnen blijven!Proficiat met je hill sprint! Hopelijk blijft de fysiek oke voor de hell 600KM Dat zal een tochtje worden om duimen en vingers af te likken zoals ze hier zeggen.In ieder geval hoop ik dat het weer goed is, want ik mag er niet aan denken dat je nog een 600 moet doorstaan zoals die in Wales vorig jaar! ( regen, onweer, kou...)Wat ik ook zeker wil vermelden is dat jullie elkaar overal weet terug te vinden, zelfs de weg vinden in 't donker met slechts een lichtje bij de hand. Ongelooflijk goed gedaan alle 7 !xxx