Tuesday 9 April 2013

The 3Down 300

Great news!  The front gear cable snapped.  I was waiting for it.  I wasn't really waiting for the front gear cable to break, but I was waiting for something to happen.  I had woken up on time, got to HQ without problems, knew about the road works, remembered to fill my water bottle, no noises from the mudguards,  lights ok, correct and latest gps file ... everything was just going so well.  It's going to be a puncture in the dark I thought, no, two punctures and a tyre split, or ...  maybe my light will stop working.  But I have backup for all of that.  I was trying to think of something more major, something new.  And there you go, how about a gear cable breaking?

All going well at HQ
I knew it wasn't a showstopper, but I didn't know how to leave the chain on the middle chain ring.  I was looking for a way to release the derailleur spring, which doesn't seem possible.  Thank you to the couple who stopped and advised me to just use the two adjustment screws.  And thank you to the 3 Specialized guys, plus one, for checking up on me whilst waiting at the railway crossing.  At that stage I had already found a new rhythm.  What rhythm, mind!  I felt like a hamster on a treadmill with my legs spinning all day at high revolutions!  On the downhills, when I couldn't pedal to increase speed, I got into uber aerodynamic position.  Cavendish would have been proud of me!  Chest on saddle stuff it was.  Must have looked hilarious, me trying to get every inch of aero advantage, that whilst having a pannier bag hanging off my bike.

And why is this great news?  Because anything that happens now is less likely to happen on the pilgrimage.  More about that in a 'Other thoughts'.

So, once I got back into my rhythm, I was loving the ride.  It was a sunny spring day with the hawthorne finally flowering.  But it's not spring just yet, not till you can smell the hawthorne.  It was a nice sight when a tawny owl flew across me, and in the evening, Colin and I were hearing wonderful owl calls.  There was lots of beautiful country side and wildlife to enjoy.  A more unusual sight was the meadow pipits in the New Forest.  What an elegant bird.

Lots of families were out cycling in the New Forest.   There was one family around me when I had stopped to take the photo below.

Spot the baby cowsie
'O look at that baby cowsie', the youngest boy, 5 years old maybe, had said.  What a wonderful moment, only to be spoiled by the dad.  'And what are baby cowsies called Jay?'  Oh dear, instead he could have told the boy how unusual it is to see cows on the road.  And what about the significance of cattle in religion and the holy cows in India.   Surely his boy was ready for that?  Having the vocabulary 'holy cow' could be useful in later life?  Anyway, Jay said 'calves' before I could bring up the word in my head.

I feel like I've been on holiday during this ride.  A holiday in many countries.  The landscape is so varied.  The river Test valley area is very distinctive and so is the New Forest, of course.   Cycling through Leckford Estate (the Waitrose/John Lewis estate) is like cycling in another world, surrounded by big old imposing trees.

Towards the end of daylight, I was beginning to struggle.  At the 200km mark I could feel I was tired enough for the ride to be over.  And I was struggling to eat much.  Alarm bells!  Focus!  It's important to recognise those signals.  I made sure that at least I would drink milkshakes.   I knew I had to keep my pace to make it round in time.  It might have been a slow pace, but it required as much effort as a fast pace.  I had been cycling on my own for most of the time.  When a bright front light was gradually coming up from behind me, I expect it to be Dave.  We had been leapfrogging each other earlier in the day.  But it was Colin.  We both benefitted from each other's company in that last section.

We arrived at the finish a 1:30AM, with a whole 30 minutes spare.  We were the last to arrive and so earn the lantern rouge honour.  Gordon, whom we had spotted at Winnersh, was eating and sharing his thoughts on the ride: 'tough'.  Ian and son we perfect 'arrival' stewards, just letting us settle before offering tea and dinner.   I had a kip in the car before driving the 15 miles to home.  I parked in front of the house and rather than dash for my bed, I had another kip in the car!

Many thanks to Ian Oliver for organising and team Oliver for the hospitality at the end.

Other thoughts:
  • the ponies, cows and donkeys in the New Forest - never saw them so much out and about on the road
  • I have an ever increasing admiration for people using fixed gear bikes
  • every time there was a climb I thought of the people riding the Hardboiled audax
  • Colin and I concluding that we'd stick to 200s from now on
  • next ride is the Severn Across 400
  • next month (!) I'm setting off on a pilgrimage to Russia covering 3000km to reach the Solovetsky islands in the White Sea.  A monk setup a monastery there back in 1436. That monk is known as St Zozimus, the patron saint of beekeepers.  John Spooner is joining me.  Our visas are in, the ride is on.  
Photos are here: MyPhotos


Anonymous said...

What a nice blog! So entertaining to read: : descriptive and humerous!
One of your best!!!

See you soon:)

Meim & Peip xxx xxx

Kris said...

Je blijft steeds zo optimistisch tijdens je pechmomenten, met veel zin voor relativeringsvermogen!Toch was het lastig, gezien je derailleurproblemen.
Gelukkig heb je de tijdslimiet gehaald en kan je trots 3Down300 DONE noteren!Well DONE!

chillmoister said...

well done Els ...I'll look forward to swapping 400 stories soon!