Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Dean 300

I was at the start on time (ref 2012) and Andy was at the start on time (ref 2014).  All was looking good.  But where were the organisers? Did they not get to the start on time?  News of them having set up camp at the back of the Peartee car park travelled like messages in an ants colony.   A trail of riders eventually made their way to the back, picking up brevet cards just in time for the 6AM off.

False start
I had entered the Dean not being sure if I would be fit enough for a hilly 300.  But the more I talked myself out of it, the more I saw it as a challenge.  By Tuesday I was completely up for it and even the forecasted low temperatures didn't put me off anymore. 

The Dean 300
'I had to try'.  This is what Michael said also.  Although he had booked a Travelodge room for the Friday night, he went back home to pick up a crucial electronic gear shifting battery.  We saw him the next day.  Despite having had only 1.5 hours sleep he said 'he had to try'.   Michael, Pete and I ended up in a triplette.  It's always good to have company after dark.   I knew Michael was digging deep when he asked whether there was a cat sitting in the middle of the road.  That rubbish bag looked nothing like a cat!

The ride went very well.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The high gearing on my new bike didn't trouble me too much although I did walk up the 14% climb to Somerset Monument and also up Hackpen Hill.  At least Hackpen Hill has a name, I thought.  From Chepstow onwards I had planned to count the hills from 1 to 10.  The first climb towards Thornbury, after the Severn Bridge, didn't seem so bad, so I didn't count that one.  I certainly couldn't count the ones I walked.  By the time we got to Lambourn it was time to give up on the counting idea.

Sometimes I can't tell if we have headwind or tailwind.  Early on I put my buff over my ears and pretended there was no wind at all.  When Pete and I crossed the Severn Bridge, the angle of Pete's bike told me for sure which direction the wind came from! Our triplette did well to take it in turns to battle against the wind.  Pete seemed to revive, having not felt very well in he first half, and took the lead a big proportion of the time.  Thank you Pete!

Camp Hackney
I didn't feel broken like I normally do after a long ride.  I could still talk and even complete my brevet card!  It was great to finish back at camp Hackney where there was a tent, outdoor heater, soup, tea, beer, laughter, company and Andy.   Andy came out of his van to say hello, give a blanket, hold my torch whilst I did my brevet card, have a chat.  How wonderful!  This has been the best finish to the Dean ever.

In previous rides, I would be totally shattered, struggle my bike in the car, struggle myself into a sleeping bag, sleep till I get too cold, then drive off to the next service station.  This time, there was the welcoming finish party, and then I made my way to the Travelodge hotel.  Wheeled my bike into the room.  Had a shower and ate rice pudding.  Then! Then, I still had the energy and inclination to get my brand new chain link pliers out.  Took the chain off the bike and put it in a pot of degreaser.   Amazing! The next day I completed the chain cleaning and compared the job to professional oven cleaning: 'comes out shining like jewellery'.

I didn't take many photos.  It was a rather grey day and I was in minimalist mode.  I did take a photo of the farm though.

My minimalist mode was in full action in the Malmesbury Waitrose.  I had started eating my chosen cakes before I could pay.  And when the man at the till asked if I had a Waitrose card, he looked up at at me and answered his own question by saying 'it would slow you down wouldn't it'? Perfect!

Many thanks to Justin and Chris for organising.  Much appreciated.

Photos are here: MyPhotos

Other thoughts:
  • Lots of wildlife, dead and alive: badgers, deer, various birds of prey including the red kites.
  • Familiar faces like Frank and Steven
  • Chatting with fboab
  • The kilometers clicking away quickly, till I got to 279 which seemed to last for hours.
  • The women at the Newent Co-op asking if I'm doing 'that 300'
  • Getting a hotel room before and after the event makes so much sense!


Anonymous said...

Great write up and love the photos ! In a few words you recreate the atmosphere so beautifully well! Thank you very much darling. Meim & Peip XXX XXX

Kris said...

Such a nice ride report!So nice to read en look at the photo's!Congratulations x

Stephen said...

Well done - not that I ever doubted!
Glad Michael made it too - we had lunch together in Newent.
Always good..