The challenge now that we are the wrong side of the clock change is to have enough daylight to ride 200km. There is, of course, also the challenge of the winter weather, short battery life on the Garmin because of the cold, muddy slippery lanes etc etc
So I have set myself the challenge of riding a 200k (or more) under Audax RRTY rules every month throughout the year. I devised as flat a route as I could and sent it off to be validated. So far, so good. With the route loaded onto my Garmin Edge I got up at 05:00 and drove 8 miles to start the ride just as it was starting to get light at 0615. Disaster – malfunction of the Garmin. So I drove home again – quite cross by this time – and miraculously fixed the Garmin by plugging it into my laptop. So with the Garmin switched on – taking no chances – I drove back to the starting point at Winterbourne Abbas.
By the time I was riding it was almost light – but very cold. The weather was as forecast though – dry with clear skies – and a magnificent sunrise.
I continued through Dorchester and headed East to Wareham and on into Poole.
I headed round Poole Harbour to Sandbanks and onto the Esplanade.
After a short distance on the esplanade I hit a patch of deep sand and I fell off my bike. I was not hurt – (though a few bruises have now appeared) but my brake lever was bent and my drive train – particularly the rear mech had taken a knock. After some heaving I managed to release the chain and got underway. There was something not quite right but I ignored it and continued all the way along the sea front passing Boscombe Pier.
It was a very beautiful day with blue skies. It doesn’t get much flatter than this but I stuck to the 10mph speed limit and carefully avoided the patches of sand.
I cycled along Hengitsbury Head to make sure that I cycled the route that had been validated and then went into Christchurch.
I then followed the A337 to Lymington before heading into the New Forest. The next problem was a ‘Road Closed’ sign near Brockenhurst.
I continued as I usually do and expected to get through but on this occasion I decided it wasn’t possible
and with the Garmin bleating ‘off course’ at me I followed the road signs to Brockenhurst and then followed signs to Burley which was my next ‘control’ . The New Forest was very pretty in the autumn sunshine
and at a junction marshalled by ponies I found my course again.
I headed north to Fordingbridge before coming back south and west to Wimborne Minster and on a lovely route avoiding main roads back to Wool. Fortunately I did not have to use the extremes of my gears as my rear changer was quite noisy and the chain came off both ends of the cassette so I kept to the middle gears. By the time I reached Wool it was starting to get dark again so I stopped at the garage for a quick sandwich. I completed 200km in just less than 9 hours – by far my quickest 200k but this route only had 1200m of ascent, quite often my 200k routes have over 3000m. It was quite dark by the time I got back to Dorchester and the evening traffic had built up.
I walked across the busy A354 Dorchester to Weymouth road before completing the ride in the dark on the quiet roads. My lights and reflective gear seemed to work very well as cars were clearly aware of me and were considerate. The route total was 215.2 km with 1200m of ascent. My total time out was 10 hours and 4 minutes and would have been less without the time spent making my bike rideable after I fell off. This is a route I am likely to repeat, not only because it is a quick and easy 200k but also because it was very scenic and interesting.