On Saturday I rode an Audax DIY 100k. It was a very hilly route so I get some AAA points to keep my AAA RTY going. (This basically means doing a hilly enough ride every month – RTY means Round The Year). I use these little challenges as motivators to keep my riding going, especially through the winter months. A combination of the route, weather, and road conditions made this a very tough ride. In the second half of the ride I could have chosen an easier, flatter route but I doggedly stuck to my plan and completed all of the hills. The elevation profile speaks for itself.
The weather forecast wasn’t good, but life’s too short to wait for a perfect day so I decided to go anyway.
It was very windy as I set out along the closed coast road (B3157) towards Abbotsbury. The gusts were hard enough to move me around on the road so it was good that there was no traffic. There was a lot of water on the road after heavy overnight rain. Descending Abbotsbury Hill was quite difficult with water running down it and the blustery wind was moving my bike around.
From Abbotsbury I went up the very steep Bishops Road and on up to Hardy’s Monument. I checked the GPS and saw I had already done 500m of ascent. It hadn’t actually rained yet but the view inland from Hardy’s Monument told me I wouldn’t stay dry for much longer.
A lovely long descent to Martinstown was next up and then along to Winterbourne Abbas where I crossed the A35 and headed up the Roman Road before descending to Maiden Newton. From Maiden Newton there are 3 ridges to go up and over before reaching the Piddle Valley This was fairly relentless and I was worryingly tired, especially as I had it all to do again on the way back. The next section just undulated across to Cheselbourne. The ascent of Bulbarrow from this side is quite gradual and I was distracted by some fine snowdrops at Ansty.
I continued up and up in the wind and rain to the mast at Bulbarrow.
The skies were very grey and I was quite wet by now. The road from Bulbarrow to Okeford Fitzpaine was closed but I went down it anyway hoping I would be able to walk through the obstruction. There was quite a lot of damage from flooding in the previous week
and one section was so badly damaged it had caused the road to be closed.
I met another cyclist at this point who was riding up from Okeford. It turned out that we knew each other. He is a contemporary of my daughters and he recognised me. I didn’t recognise him now that he is all grown up, but it was lovely to chat for a while and catch up with his news. Also great to see him out cycling.
My route took me through Okeford Fitzpaine
and down to Shillingstone.
I had hoped to have time to buy some ‘proper food’ at the shop there, but it was already 13:30 and I really wanted to be home before dark. So I continued to munch on my dried apricots and nuts and headed back up Bulbarrow. Its definitely steeper from this side and it was raining. I had in my head that I had 4 ‘proper’ hills still to do and my head wasn’t in that good a place. Many experienced Audaxers have told me that long hard rides are as much in the head as the legs and I used the easier predominantly downhill section back to Cheselborne to get in a more positive frame of mind. (despite having cold wet feet through repeatedly cycling through flooded roads) I did have the option of taking a much easier route home and avoiding the hills that followed but I am hoping that by pushing hard now that long hard rides later in the year will be possible (I nearly wrote easier then).
By the time I got back to Piddletrenthide I had my ‘can do’ hat back on and in no time at all I was up that hill and ready to descend into Cerne Abbas.
There was lots of gravel and other debris on the roads and descending at speed was hazardous – I was aware that my brakes were going to need some adjustment as they didn’t seem to be working very well. Climbing out of Cerne Abbas wasn’t too bad. There were other people about – walking and horse riding, despite the rain, and that distracted me from the steepening gradient. Once again down to the ford at Sydling and then another huge ascent to the A37. BUT – in my head this was the last one because – the actual last proper hill up from Wynford Eagle to Eggardon is one that I know very well.
No time to stop in Maiden Newton. I was almost out of fluids and hastily finished off my apricots and nuts before the last big up.
I did have to get off and walk – not on the hill – but at a flood on Shatcombe Lane that was too deep to ride through.
The light was quite dim by this time and I put my lights on for the last few kilometres.
At last I was at the top of Eggardon. I ride up here a lot and can see my home on a good day. Today the view down across the Asker valley to the sea was quite grey.
The descent off Eggardon is long and my route home from there is mainly downhill. As is usual in West Dorset – it’s never completely flat or down – there are always a few little ups to keep you riding hard. It’s even uphill to my front door – but at last I was there, and enjoyed a nice cup of tea while my bath was running.
I cleaned and checked my bike and discovered that my back brakes were completely worn out. The worn brakes were Shimano Tiagra and I have replaced them with Shimano 105 and hope that they will last a bit longer.