On Saturday I rode the Kennet Valley 100 Audax, stepping up from last weeks trial at 50km to 100km. It was almost the perfect day for it by the time it started at 9am. The early morning frost I had to scrape off my car at 6:30am had long since gone, or so I thought, read more about that later. Once the day got going the sun was shining and there wasn’t much wind.
I went through the now familiar procedure of picking up my ‘Brevet Populaire’ card and transferring the questions that needed answering at the various control points onto my route sheet to avoid spoiling my Brevet Card on the ride. I carry the route sheet as well as having the route on my Garmin so that I know where and when the various control points are. I would hate to miss one and have to go back. I have not as yet found a way to include waypoints on my Garmin routes if indeed there is a way to do it. I might have to find another program to do it. I then went back to the car and get myself and my bike ready for the start. After this I returned to the ride headquarters and helped myself to some biscuits, a nice chunk of bread pudding and cup of coffee while I waited for 9:00am.
We all went outside just before the start time, assembling in the car park. After a brief chat from the organiser we were on our way. I found myself very near the front of the 90 or so riders after about a mile, not that its a race but its safer up the front in a big crowd. However my phone rang and I had to stop to answer it, you never know who its from or what its about. It was actually my youngest daughter Kerry asking if we could babysit that evening, she didn’t know I was riding my bike at the time. After this I pressed on and joined on near the back of the groups and I made my towards the front again and by this time the line was getting stretched and groups of about a dozen or so were forming. I kept on passing them until I found a group that were going at about my speed and sat in on the back of them.
The ride progressed at a steady and comfortable pace. I took my turns on the front as the group rotated and everything was very comfortable. The odd rider moved off the front from time to time and others came up to join us and either stayed or moved on up to the next one.
About 40km into the ride, just before Kintbury, we came across an ambulance with flashing blue lights parked by the roadside on a bend in a narrow stretch of a country lane. There were some bikes laying on the grass and a couple of cyclists standing chatting. I assumed there had been an accident and the victim was inside the ambulance being treated. I also assumed that whoever it was had been knocked off by a vehicle of some kind. I had seen a few cars along the way, obviously familiar with the roads themselves and not expecting to see hordes of cyclists along ‘their’ roads and I assumed the worst had happened.
End of Part One.. its a really nice morning out there now and I have decided to go for a bike ride and so I will finish this later…. to be continued…
Well that was an eventful ride, more about that in my next post..
So leaving the scene of the accident I carried on and eventually into Hungerford in the company of another chap who’d had been sitting on my wheel for miles but who came into his own when we entered Hungerford. He had done this ride eight years ago apparently and knew exactly where the ‘Tutti Pole’ cafe was, just as well as Hungerford was a busy town on Saturday morning and but the for multitude of bikes ‘parked’ outside it would not have been easy to find. It was just off the main road at the start of a little footpath that veered off to the left as road went over the bridge over the Kennet & Avon canal.
This control involved not answering a question but going inside the cafe and getting my Brevet card stamped and timed. I ate a banana that I had picked up at the start in the HQ for later consumption and a cereal bar I had brought with me.
I wandered down the path above as I ate and came upon this at the end of the path..
That was forty seven kilometres done and fifty three still to come. After crossing the bridge and circumnavigating a couple of mini roundabouts on the way out of town I was on the old A4 Bath Road and heading east. After a few kilometres I turned left off the A4 and onto country roads once more. The first half of the ride had been quite flat with a few undulations but this side of the river was considerably more lumpy. Nevertheless it was on quiet roads and through some picturesque villages. Just a couple of control points to go through and evidence gathering for proof of visiting.
For most of this half of the ride I was kind of riding with another chap who was navigating purely by the route sheet whereas I was relying mainly on the Garmin. We alternated in taking the lead. He would overtake me mainly on the flat stretches as he was pushing big gears and I was doing my usual spinning. When it came to the uphill bits I usually caught and passed him, only for him to then pass me on the descent pushing his big gears. I don’t really see the point in pedalling hard downhill, you might as well take the opportunity to rest your legs a while in my view. However we proceeded like that for about forty miles as though we were attached by a piece of elastic, exchanging the odd brief word as we passed each other. A couple of times I caught him as he was slowing to check his route sheet and he was grateful for me coming by with the benefit of my Garmin.
Soon we entered Theale on the outskirts of Reading and there were multiple turnings to be made. Somewhere along the way I lost my ride buddy. I had to stop at some traffic lights at one point for quite some time with about ten kilometres to the finish and I was expecting him to arrive by my side at any time but he never did appear. The next time I saw him was at the ride HQ after the event.
I transferred my control point answers from my notes on the route sheet into the appropriate boxes on the Brevet card and got it checked and verified. After that I tucked in to a nice bowl of soup, some bread and a coffee then I set off for the ninety minute drive home and a nice relaxing remainder of the afternoon.
It wasn’t until later that night I found out the story about the accident I saw earlier. I had a message from Ritchie, my ride buddy from last week and a member of Team MK. He was not on the ride this week. He said he had seen a report on the ride in the ‘y.a.c.f’ (Yet Another Cycling Forum) and hoped we were not involved in the accident.
I had no idea what he was talking about but I found the forum and apparently the accident happened to a rider in the 200km event that started earlier than ours. He came down on some black ice on the bend and broke his femur (ouch!!). I think another couple of riders came down as well. They or someone else called for an ambulance but there was a problem getting the exact location as it was in the middle of nowhere with no real landmarks. However the operator on the switchboard at the emergency call centre asked if they had an iPhone as the GPS on that can give accurate longitude and latitude references. Fortunately somebody did so with that and another phone to speak over whilst giving the reading from the iPhone they were able to place him.
The not so good bit is that it took almost two hours before the ambulance arrived and in the meantime the poor chap was laying in the road unable to be moved on a freezing cold surface. Of course nobody was carrying anything to cover him or wearing anything substantial enough to give him to keep him warm. However he survived the ordeal and got to hospital for treatment eventually.
My ride was fortunately less eventful than that and I really enjoyed it. Everybody seems very friendly and there is always a word or two to be shared when passing or being passed and at the control points. Quite a low key event but with targets to be met and the chance to ride previously unknown roads all over the country. I am definitely doing some more. In fact as I have been typing this a reminder has come up that I set on my computer to enter an event before the imminent entry closing date.
Garmin ride details can be found by clicking THIS