Mad March Hare

In order to avoid the early morning rush, I opted to stay over the night before the event.  Which is just as well, since if I hadn’t, I’d probably have wimped out.  For starters I came down with a cold on Thursday night.  I  hit it with everything I had – painkillers, vitamins, echinacea, coffee…the works.  And it seemed to be working.  I drove up to the hotel on Saturday afternoon, went out for Italian carbs with Jon and his partner Sam, and was feeling about 85% and pleased that I wasn’t feeling as bad as I’d expected to.  So far so good…

Back at the hotel, about 10pm ish, I noticed my left ear was feeling blocked.  Hm – historically not a good sign.  Nowt I could do about it though, so I went to bed at around 11pm, all ready to get a good night’s sleep…and was up again at midnight with chronic earache.  Ow!  It took about another 90 minutes for it to build up, pop, rumble, pop, pop a lot, start oozing gunk, and then settle enough for me to go back to sleep.  Not good.  That’ll be a perforated eardrum for you.  Nice.

Up at 7.00am to eat breakfast carbs and pink pills.  Well, since I was there, I couldn’t just roll over, wimp out, and have a duvet day, now could I?  My blackberry app tells me its -7C outside.  Which it may well have been.  It was certainly sunny and icy.  I put on every layer of cycling I possess, wrapped my head and neck in Buffs, stuffed the mp3 player in the suppurating left ear and drove down to the start.  Parking turned out to be around a very smelly cow shed – so the fact that it was freezing may have been a minor blessing on the olfactory front – high summer must stink to high heaven there!

I met Jon, who’d cycled down, once I’d put the bike together.  I signed up and got sorted, at which point I bumped into some of the L2P Phuk.dis crew which was nice.  It would have been nice to chat longer but hey, not the time or the place, and I didn’t see them afterwards.  I’m sure I’ll see them at future events..

My cycle computer decided that it wasn’t working.  Marvellous.  But Jon, being a boy, had a Garmin gadgety thing, and I figured that would have to do, and could supply me with blog stats ok, so I decided not to fret too much about it.  I couldn’t find the loos and it was time to head off, so Jon and I headed off at, by my reckoning, 8:36am.  Just as we set off I got this massive sort of internal twang of the muscles in my neck/shoulder – enough to make me gasp – and lost the ability to look over my left shoulder without wincing.

As you can see, I was off to a flying start…  It’s a good thing Jon was there since I was kinda woozy, and not really with it.  That’s the side effect of having half your head blocked.  It was very icy, and the low sun and long shadows made avoiding the ice and the potholes tricky enough, without having to try and spot the limited signage.  Jon’s gadget pointed us in the right direction more than once.  My PC was at least telling the time, so I could keep track of when to eat and roughly how long I’d been out.

Having missed the loos at the start, at some point the requirement for one became more pressing.  Public toilets are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, so after passing some closed ones, we stopped off and I asked in a little village shop…  After ascertaining that I was a girl, and that I was not the first of a horde, the initially hostile shopkeeper let me use his loo, which was very lovely of him, and quite restored my faith in people 🙂  Plus, with it being that cold out there, hiding behind a bush and exposing myself to the elements had been even less attractive than unusual!

Jon and I stuck together for quite a while, but some time during the second hour he dropped behind on a hill, and we never managed to sync up again.  I though he was behind me and waited up on Snowshill for him, but it turns out that a great many riders were wearing luminous yellow jackets, and the one behind me hadn’t been him at all…

…so after a while I decided to keep movin’ on, to keep warm if nothing else, and that was that.  I couldn’t tell you much about the ride – I was definitely a tad zoned out – it’s just kind of edited highlights.  The weather was glorious – wall to wall blue skies, spring sunshine, burgeoning British country side, lovely Cotswold villages, a great deal of seriously expensive property of dubious taste, and amazing views.  There was a fab long flat stretch before the feed stop with the wind behind me that was very lovely indeed.

Other than that, there were hills.  Plenty of ’em.  More than I expected, and an annoying number of them in the last hour and a half.  The largest hill took us up to Saintsbury (I think) and I did have to stop a couple of times.  I didn’t walk though – unlike many others – and I think if I’d been at 100% I’d have made it up all the way.  Mind you it’s easy to say that now 😉

Cycling time: 5:50 ish.  Say 5:30 not inc stops.
Distance: 77 miles
Avs: 14.0 mph
ODO: 3491 miles

I got in around 14:20 and someone yelled something about 5:50 – so knock 20 minutes or so off for stops, and you get 5 and half hours, which means I probably averaged around 14mph – which is the best guesstimate I’m likely to get.  Me and my hill weary legs walked the bike back to the car to pack it away, and to take a bit to regain my sangfroid, before queuing up for my exceedingly welcome bacon butty.  Come to think of it, my sang was pretty well froid enough… 😉

I hadn’t wanted to take my leg warmers with me, but I’m sure glad I did. it would have been hard to wear them otherwise!  And hey, pulling them up all the time can, oddly, be usefully distracting…  It never really warmed up – the ice lasted all day – and even with all the layers my feet went walkabout around the same time Jon did, never to be seen again…well, until the bacon butty queue that is.

The official route is here – but I have to say that most of the time I had no idea where I was – I was just on the bike pedalling, and looking for arrows…  Bearing in mind the scarcity of them, it’s a miracle I didn’t get lost, and not surprising that quite a few people did.  More than once I saw people heading off into the distance past an arrow pointing the way they should be going.  I’m just glad that wasn’t me 🙂

What with my state of mind and health, it was a good day to be cycling in the sunshine on my own, pleasing nobody but me.  All told, and all things considered, it was a pretty good ride 🙂

UPDATE : official time is 5:48.  123rd out of 232.  As the fastest was 4:15, I don’t reckon that’s too bad 🙂

(Just as an FYI – the doctor confirmed the eardrum this morning – so I have antibiotics for that, and also a number to call to get to physio treatment to look at my shoulder/neck problem, what with it being recurrent an’ all.)

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