Sunday, June 14, 2009

My first century ride


Went to: New Forest, Wimborne Minster, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Lymington, Beaulieu
Distance: 121 miles
Total time on bike: 7:33
Average speed: 16.1 mph
Total climb height: 670m (take this with a pinch of salt but much less than the 65 mile Isle of Wight ride)

On Saturday I did my first "century" ride with Mark Halliday and Rich Harran. They were doing a 100+ mile as some last minute training for their "Longest Day" ride where they head north from Winchester at 4am and cycle all day until dark, which should be about York where Rich's family lives.

Mark and Rich at Boscombe pier and pyramid

We met at North Baddesley at 08:00 and headed to the New Forest. There are loads of foals and calves in the Forest; it's really nice to see animals in the wild like that.

Before long we'd reached Ringwood, then Wimborne Minster where they were having a folk festival. There was much dancing and people with bells tied to their feet. It seemed like the whole town were involved. If they do it annually then it's worth a visit next year.

We passed Kingston Lacy (a National Trust place that is a good 45 minutes drive on fast roads from my house) and started south, aiming for Corfe Castle. We went a little off our ideal route and stopped at a shop for sweeties and a drink.

At which point I realised that the drawstring bag that I'd been carrying was no longer on my back. *%&*#! The only place it could have been was the last time we'd stopped which was about 6 miles back. Grr. My iPhone was in my saddle pack but the bag contained my normal spectacles, £10 cash, a credit card, my bank card and 4 Mars bars.

So we raced back with me leading the way as punishment (it's much harder work leading than following, by about 18% at 20mph according to The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling).

When we got back the bag was not there. Double *%&*#. 100 yards away was a National Trust property (White Mill) so we cycled over and asked the assembled gentry if anyone had handed in a bag. A very nice "old boy" in a suit had it:- a local lad on a bike had found it and left it in his safe keeping. Phew!

The detour had somewhat ruined our plan to get the ferry from Sandbanks to Poole so we replotted a route to Bournemouth beach. We'll leave Corfe Castle and Swanage for another century ride.

The weather at Bournemouth/Boscombe beach was weird. It was warm and sunny one minute, then further along the coast it was like being in a cloud. The visibility was down to 1/2 a mile or so and it looked like it might be raining back towards Bournemouth.

We had some well-earned (77 miles) chips on Boscombe beach and soaked up the sunshine. Speaking of which, I'd put suncream on my face, neck and legs. Which meant that only my exposed arms were sunburned when I got home. I've got a very fetching tan line half way up my biceps.

Our bikes on Bosombe beach

Going through Christchurch made me realise that when Emma and I had visited several years ago we hadn't found half of it so we went again today (no, I didn't cycle there) and had a lovely couple of hours exploring the town, abbey, ruins and marina.

We stopped in Lymington for a "full fat coke" and for Mark to get some Ibuprofen - his achilles is giving him some trouble if he pushes hard up the hills.

Then it was "only" 29 miles home via Beaulieu and Marchwood and I was home in time for tea.

My previous longest ride was 76 miles (or 81 miles in 3 stints for the Isle of Wight ride). The step up to 121 miles was surprisingly comfortable. It definitely helps to be riding in a group. You get to rest while drafting the others, you can resist the temptation to go too fast and you've got company to keep your mind occupied.

I'm looking forward to my next day-long ride. Maybe Brighton and back? You coming?

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