The main cycling objective for this year was to ride the Reivers Route and go Coast to Coast, and this was completed in the height of summer. However as the weather has been so dry and mild, I thought I might attempt to repeat a challenge that I set myself in the autumn of 2012 when I was in training for the inaugral Ride London 100 ( earlier blog posts describe my trials and endeavours of this event ). The challenge was to complete a 100km audax. This is run by CTC Derby and is titled ' Over and Over the Trent ' . In actual fact it is not 100km, but rather 109km and those extra metres can make a huge difference to a doddery Old Age Pensioner.
I have been having a few problems with my right knee of late but I thought if I strapped it up, took a couple of ibuprofen and took it steady, making sure I used all the gears and not be tempted to go with the proper cyclists then I might survive.
Last time I did this event the weather was boiling hot and the biggest danger was sunstroke; not this time.
As about 75 of us gathered at Darley Abbey for the start, the rain, which has been absent for the last eight weeks began to fall and it fell in bucket loads. To add frisson to the ride, the autumn leaves had already fallen and lay strewn across the lanes and the combination of fallen leaves and pouring rain made descending quickly a very dangerous pastime.
In terms of hardship, the first half of this course is the most testing and the combination of strong winds, driving rain, poor visibility and the hill climb route of Pistern Hill meant that I was really pleased to see the half way stop at Moira and looked forward to a break from the elements. Unfortunately a group of walkers had decided that the weather was too bad for walking and so had decided to invade the tea shop for cake and chat instead, making room for bedraggled cyclists a premium.
Eventually however, I got a seat and tried out the restorative powers of beans on toast. I am not sure if it had any real effect on my energy levels but it certainly made an improvement on the weather as the rain stopped, the sun made a fleeting appearance but the wind remained a constant menace.
My endurance levels are not perhaps as good as they were even over a couple of years ago and on reaching Rolleston-on-Dove I could feel my energy levels beginning to fade
As I passed over the River Dove I felt that these swans, swimming against the flow, were kindred spirits as I rode into the wind.
The last 20km was proving hard work and the route was what cyclists would describe as undulating but what I thought was proving mountainous. Eventually though I made it back to Darley Abbey and was greeted by the site of a sumptious tea. I felt that I had well earnt the sandwiches and cake on offer and a heart felt thanks to all the organizers, both admin and bakers, which had made it once again a memorable day.
What did surprise me though was that when I compared my time to that which I achieved last time, I found that I had completed the distance 43 mins quicker.! Perhaps I am not THAT doddery after all
For those who like stats, then my effort is chronicled here.