The Dorset Coast 200km Audax is a long established event which takes place on Sunday 13th April 2014. It is part of the Wessex SR series and the 300km – The Hard Boiled – takes place the day before on Saturday 12th April. A few hard core riders arrived on Sunday morning looking already quite tired having ridden the 300km and only had short night to sleep in between.
It was bad enough getting up at 05:00 in order to arrive at Wareham Parish Hall ready for the 07:45 start. The Quay looked very tranquil and calm and the weather on the day was promising.
This is a very popular event and the parish Hall was very busy.
Peter Loakes the organiser led us on our way on his fixed-wheel bike and we set off on the ‘ferry dash’. It was a dash too. There was very little traffic early on a Sunday morning and we covered the 24km to the Sandbanks ferry in 42 minutes. As we waited for the ferry we were given the all important sticker for our Brevet cards. Everyone crammed onto half of the ferry with a few cars occupying the other half.
The first few kilometres towards Studland are quite flat and most riders stayed together along this stretch.
However, after Studland village, we encountered the first proper hill and the field became more spread out. The views across to Poole Harbour from the B3351 are superb. Onwards through Corfe Castle and up Steeple Hill where we were surprised to find that the Ranges were closed. However, it is quite clear on the internet that this was to be expected.
I luckily knew my way around as I have ridden here when I knew the ranges would be closed so I was able to successfully navigate back onto the course without any trouble. The beautiful day showcased the view of Weymouth and Portland as we descended from Chalky Road.
The Criterion Cafe on Weymouth sea front was very busy, but well organised and was coping with the 200k riders who were now joined by those on the Coastlet 100k.
The 100k and 200k courses are the same from Weymouth to Abbotsbury and I enjoyed the company of Andy Bori who was well up the field on the 100k. He wasn’t too sure of the route so was pleased to find his info control at New Barn Farm. We parted company at Abbotsbury as Andy went off to face Portesham Hill and I headed west to face Abbotsbury Hill.
Once again we were treated to superb views and I enjoyed the B3157 to Burton Bradstock which is generally downhill and quite speedy.
The grind out of Bridport is followed by a 60 kph downhill dash on the A35 into Chideock before turning off to North Chideock and after that it is just really hard graft of steep hills all the way to the lunch control at Axminster. The flowers in the hedges were very pretty. The Parents Association at Axminster school provided excellent food at this control and the school hall was a great place to take a break to recover from the recent hills and prepare for the next one: Sector Lane which climbs Stammery Hill out of Axminster up to Blackpool Corner on the B3165.
Once up onto the B3165 another quite fast stretch follows before the steep descent of Mutton Street and down through Shave Cross and Broadoak then passing by the North of Bridport to Loders. The Spyway Road is only a couple of miles from my home and the hill up to Eggardon is definitely in my back yard. I ride up it regularly but not with 170km already in my legs. I took it very, very slowly and was very pleased when it finally flattened off revealing more wonderful views in the afternoon sunshine.
With all the ‘proper’ hills over the ride to the next control at Dorchester Top ‘o’ Town cafe was a real pleasure. The Roman Road to Winterborne Abbas has a good surface and is prevailingly downhill so on this wonderful sunny afternoon with a fine vista all round I enjoyed the ride and my legs had time to recover from the steep hills of the last 70km. I was surprised to find that there were not very many names ticked off on the 200km ride sheet when I went through the control at 16:50.
I didn’t linger but pressed on trying (and failing miserably) to chase Postie who was still going very strongly despite having ridden the 300km Hard Boiled the day before. There are a few small elevations – (not proper Hills) in the last 20km but generally it is easy, quick riding.
It took me just an hour to complete the final 26km checking into the finish at 17:53. 207 km in 10 hours and 8 minutes – not bad for a hilly one! The volunteers at the Parish Hall had also had a hard, long day and the same people who were there at 07:00 were still there dealing with Brevet cards and preparing and serving food. I had a baked potato which really hit the spot!
There are a lot of people who work hard to make it possible for us riders to have an enjoyable, well fuelled, safe ride. Their day is often longer than ours.
I had to get back on my bike and ride the kilometre back to Purbeck School where my car was parked. Another rider had 10km back to Wool where his campervan was parked. Another rider had ridden from his home in Broadmayne that morning and had that 20km to ride back again. But the prize must go to the chap who rode the Hard Boiled 300km on Saturday and the Dorset Coast 200km on Sunday and was rumoured to be also riding home to Milton Keynes. Chapeau!