FP's unofficial ride report

19 Sep 2002
<cross posted, but hey>


I’d just like to take a little time to say a massive “Thank You” to those that sponsored me on June 6th, and to give a brief report on how the ride went.

The weather forecast wasn’t bad, apart from the Force 5-6 wind going completely in the wrong direction, but at least it meant that overheating was not a problem on the day. (Louise had said encouragingly before the ride, that the worst case would be “To end up with heat exhaustion, the patterned sunburnt head of an alien, and the rear of baboon.” Thankfully, I can confirm that all these nightmare scenarios were avoided by Lucozade, Factor 30, and careful selection of kit.)

Having carefully tested the Garmin Connect Live link beforehand, when it came to the start, it failed to connect with “Server Error ... unknown code”. I restarted the GPS, and the rest of my group started to ride off into the distance.

Three minutes later, and we had our second faller (The first faller didn’t unclip after the initial photo shoot). One rider slowed and stopped to adjust their rear derailleur, and another rider drew up parallel to “assist”. Assistance being, in this case, another failure to unclip, followed a by a less than graceful plunge into the hedge and a wheel that wasn’t round any more. Being wary about offering any more assistance, I left the tangle behind.

I rapidly realised there was a rhythm to my cycling: I was fine on the flat, really quite fast on the downhill sections, and utterly, utterly, useless up the hills. This might have had something to do with my training routes, which had a maximum elevation of 6ft.

At the first stop, I fiddled with GPS some more, ate some bananas, and the group started to cycle off again as I was still pressing buttons trying to get the Live Link to work. Shortly afterwards, the GPS said “Turn Right”, so I did, and led the riders into a Military Housing Estate.

At second stop, I rebooted the phone. Ta-da! Live Link now works, and I can post the link for about, err, five minutes, because the signal is hopeless, and having Bluetooth enabled has drained the battery to 20% with 40% of the ride to go.

Never mind the technology, let’s focus on the cycling, and I start to enjoy the ride through a town centre, when TWANG, wobble, wobble, oh dear, that’s not good, a spoke has broken on the rear wheel. What are the chances of finding a bike shop within 100 yards, that is open on a Saturday, and that could do a repair at short notice? Very good, as it happens, although I’m still extremely suspicious that there might have been someone with a spoke-breaking-device lying in wait for me, who gets commission from the shop for each wheel repair.

Half an hour later, and I’m on my own, having lost the rest of the pack. This part of the ride was tough: there were a couple of hills where I was pulling small wheelies in the lowest gear, and had to dismount and walk up. I remember a couple of vultures circling above in the cloudless sky, waiting for their staggering victim to fall. The terrain levelled off, the vultures glided away in search of an easier meal, and I gathered speed.

As I approached what was meant to be the last rest stop, I wasn’t sure of the exact location, but I knew I was in the right village, so I phoned Louise to get detailed guidance.
“Hi, where are you, exactly?”
“In the pub.”
Following the guidance above caused me to overshoot the rest stop completely, and arrive at the next village. I’m very grateful to the small group of riders that waited for me at this final stop, and we met up at the crest of the next hill, and rode the last leg into Southampton together, guided by Trevor in the support van when the GPS finally went to zero, riding over the line four-abreast to a crowd that seemed surprised we had made it.

The final tally is looking like it will be well in excess of the original target (£8000+? not sure), which is a great result, as it represents the combined efforts of the organisers, especially Gary P, MDL, the riders, and of course, the sponsors.

Thanks again,

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