1:51:09 (new 50mi PB, beating previous 50 PB by >2min with less power)
Another early start and a rapid drive west to Abergavveny for the Welsh 50 mile TT Champs. Not being Welsh I wasn’t eligible for the title, which was handy because I came in 4th, but it was the last 50 of the season and I reckoned I could get myself a new PB for this distance.
The ride itself started probably too fast and the bulk of it was involved a lot of self-talk trying to find ways of convincing myself to pedal harder. Most of them failed as I cycled up and down between being on target and way down on target power. Overall I gave away maybe 10W on my PB from two years ago but I was 40W up on the Breckland 50 ridden tired, last week.
The lovely still day and two years of aero improvements meant even with less power and generally feeling horrible for the middle 40 miles I managed to knock over 2 minutes of my previous best. Unfortunately I still have the problem where my left leg goes numb and I’m forced to stand up in order to get the blood flowing again. I’ve had some expensive tests done on this but they were inconclusive so for now I just try to stretch my hip flexors and put up with it. I hope I’m not forced to get vein surgery like Stuey O’Grady had done years ago.
Speaking of O’Grady, I was one of a few riders picked for Doping Control after the race! First time I’ve been tested and a bit awkward as I was quite dehydrated so had to have two goes to fill up the pot with a UKAD bloke watching me piss! Interesting career move there! I instantly started feeling guilty whilst racking my brain to list on the form all the drugs/supplements I’d consumed in the prior week. I’ve not bothered to look up Rivaroxaban but since one of the side effects is lowering red blood cells, I’d like to think I’m actually anti-doping, just like sinking all those beers to decrease my power-to-weight ratio.
Afterwards we visited a cafe for lunch and nearby Raglan Castle which turned out to be free entry that day. Bonus.
The M4 was rammed on the way back though. Unbonus.
Thanks Mal for doing your usual thing (and an excessive amount of star jumps) and thanks to Scherrit who is still on US time and also snuck out to cheer me on!
Sat: 4am wakeup call before heading out to Ruislip for the 6am start of Tim Sollesse’s 300k Steamride London-Cambridge-Oxford ‘University Challenge’
The plan was to just tap it out easily and leave some in the tank so I could race the 50mi TT on Sunday and get a BBAR rank (completed 50mi, 100mi and 12hr races).
I’d decided to eat control food and minimise my use of my usual Torq energy products during this ride – I’m going to have to get used to eating ‘real’ food if I race TransAm next year. After a cappuccino and a couple of cakes I found myself riding with Pete from Milltag after the first control (changed to Costa in Hertford because of flooding at the orginal Something Lovely tearooms). Pete and I ended up riding the whole thing together, just cruising along in the sun, chatting. We rode by the Audley End miniature railway a bit unsure if it was the Info control because the distance was a bit off from the brevet card. At 114k we stopped for a bit in the Regal pub for more coffee and cake. The next control was at Ampthill Waitrose (172k) where I smashed a tonne of food and drink – eyes bigger than stomach plus nice bakery options equals feeding frenzy. I pocketed some yum yums but the rest of it also ‘sat with me’ for quite a while afterwards. At 215k we hit upon Buckinghamshire Railway in Quainton, a Control town I’ve visited before from the other direction. There appeared to be a wedding on so we just grabbed the required Info and carried on to Wheatley Services at 241k. I met some guys who’d ridden TransContinental here (g’day, sorry I can’t recall names). Pete grabbed some Subway but since I was still digesting lunch I just refilled bottles. We made it to the Rivers Edge pub 300k finish line before it got dark which was nice. In a rare moment of sobriety I declined a drink in order to get home quickly to eat and sleep before the race tomorrow. I must’ve been a bit low on energy because I managed to get a bit confused on the straight road home in the dark. Cue a few pointless u-turns before making it home. Thanks Tim and volunteers, it was a great ride. Thanks Pete for making my more chilled out audax quite interesting.
1:54:41 in the Breckland 50mi TT on the B50/18 course. Adam Topham won with 1:40:08. After not much sleep and another 4am start I drove a couple of hours out towards Norwich with Mal. This gave me a bit of time to squeeze into my skinsuit and get in a warm up. The weather was once again lovely if a bit windy for my liking. I headed out with a power target in mind. This worked for all of 5 miles at which point yesterday clearly caught up and I started to fall apart. The next 45 miles were a horrid combination of rutted roads hammering my pre-tenderised arse and a feeling of emptiness – not a profound emotional emptiness, because we all know I’m a heartless robot, but emptiness in the legs. I just couldn’t get them to push the pedals all the time. I couldn’t believe it but I was having to coast just to compose myself before putting some power down again. I knew I’d finish and get a time for the BBAR but it was a pretty pathetic experience. I got a bit lost at the second turn and lost some time but the biggest hit was the fact that my power was about 30W down… on my 100 mile power! Yeah, I was in bits. Anyway, found a bit of energy with a couple of miles to go and came in, surprisingly only about a minute down on my all-time PB. Must’ve been a faster course making up for my total knackeredness. Afterwards I ate cake and visited a local distillery #becausewellpro
Thanks to Mal and Scilly.Suffolk for the cheering
Before sending us to a no through road the Garmin did take us past this which was quite pretty…
Eurostar to France with bikes booked on the same train, except our train broke down and they transferred us but not the bikes. Us being, Adrian (yacf), Alistair (PieEater on yacf) and Mark. So the four of us had lunch near Gare du Nord, waiting a couple of hours for the bikes to turn up. We then cycled to the National Velodrome in Saint Quentin via the Eiffel Tower which took a couple of hours. Straight in for the bike check and then picked up our packs of numbers and high-viz gillet. Then I headed over to my hotel in Plaisir, repacked the bike and went to dinner with some Willesden CC riders.
After some Belgian beers Mark had kindly provided in the hotel courtyard it was off to bed.
The swarm of cyclists in the F1 hotel meant the meagre breakfast provisions were destroyed before I could get any so it was into my bonk rations I dived for some Torq energy and my anticoag drugs. What a start to the day!
I had to get to the velodrome before 1pm in order to make use of their bag drop, since I’d not booked the hotel room through the whole event (next time I will book a closer hotel and probably book it through so I don’t have to worry about left luggage). Once I was changed and I’d repacked for the 8th time, I left the velodrome and wandered down to Saint Quentin to have lunch. There, while chowing down on a pizza, I briefly met ultra-racing legend Chris Ragsdale who was crewing for another American rider.
Tweet: “Riders are lining up for the off. Feeling quite nervous, more so than normal. Good luck to gold coast rider #PBP”
Start was fast and nervous, certainly not helped by a Frenchie grounding his pedal at speed on a RAB right in front of me not even 5k into the event. I rode up to him and made a ‘heart pumping’ gesture and he said pardon and we carried on, busting our guts to stick with the frantic pace out of town. I couldn’t really believe people were riding this hard at the start of 1230k, had they not heard of pacing? Problem was, I didn’t want to lose the bunch so we continued to ride hard to maintain position in the big bunch. We caught the group in front very fast and someone said later we also caught Group B but I’m not sure about that.
Tweet: “Loudeac now with Ciaran and Aidan. Just let Martin Lucas head off. Feeling tired but OK. Lots still to do. Start was mental, we’re slow now.”
I wrote Aidan but I meant Adrian. I don’t seem to have any memory of Mortagne (services), Villaines, Fougeres, Tinteniac or Quedillac (services) controls. I do remember seeing Jenny at Villaines (the first proper control) and she said Hoppo was just behind us. He later joined our bunch. I think we then lost this bunch whilst in one of the controls. I remember sitting out the back struggling a bit to get my compulsory high-viz gilet on and then riding off the front of the bunch so I could have a wee without losing them. The pace must have been stable enough at this stage that I could move freely around.
I once again have no memories of St Nicolas (services) or Carhaix but I do remember the long climb before Brest and seeing the fast boys, including Rimas (A020) ZigZag from YACF coming out of Brest. We skipped the offer of free crepes on the bridge whilst enjoying the view of the bay and the big suspension bridge. Wish I’d stopped and taken photos.
Tweet: “In Brest. Can’t believe only half way. Have towed half of Europe across France. Fucking sore. Train back would be lovely. Never doing again.”
I chatted with an older Irish rider who knew what he was doing and convinced Ciaran to turn around and make it at least to Carhaix while we had some daylight. The climb went on forever but the decent was quite fun. I drafted a big hay truck and then a tractor along some of the roads. Silly waste of energy but fun so what the hell?
Tweet: “Might bail on my no sleep plan given how slow I’m moving. Don’t want to be stuck in the freezing early hours again need ing sleep outdoors.”
Tweet: “Like an earthquake refuge here in Carhaix. We slept on the floor. I’m getting more food. Not leaving until sunrise. Too cold. Lost others.”
This was where it went a bit pear-shaped. We’d decided to sleep in Carhaix (32hrs solid riding and 40-odd awake) so had a proper meal and a beer. I thought Ciaran was going to the dorms and lost him. I slept for maybe an hour on the floor then used the loo and had some more food. I was cold and miserable here (should’ve got rain jacket and earplugs). Lots more started filling the place up and I slept a bit in the cafe/fast-food area. Woke again and ate/drank more and used the loo again where I joked with another Irish rider about some funny noises coming from one of the cubicles. He said that Ciaran had already left and I was a bit pissed off to say the least. I went out into the fog eventually and his bike was still there so I was back to wanting to just get moving. I went looking in the sleeping quarters with the help of one of the volunteers but I couldn’t find him anywhere though and I didn’t want to leave him there. I finally had one last look around and found him in a corner behind some tables and we eventually rolled out after losing about 1000 places around 9am.
Tweet: “Finally found Ciaran. We’ll leave Cairhaix soon. Once more into the fog… This has turned into a full value ride.”
Spent the whole day just tapping out an even pace trying not to hurt Ciaran’s ankles too much. I was quite enjoying myself, feeding my ego sitting on the front doing big turns, making it look easy, in my mind. Ciaran was still stronger than a lot of other riders we encountered and was doing turns along with a Portuguese rider? But we mostly towed people through the day, just knocking off one control at a time trying not to take too long in them after the Carhaix debacle.
Tweet: “Only 500 to go. Hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”
Tweet: “In Fougres. Feeling fine, sitting on the front tapping it out. Ciaran bit damaged but he’s still gettin turns in. Probably mood swing now..”
Into another night and memories start to disappear again. “Just tap it out” becomes my new motto.
Tweet: “Slow going in the night but I actually feel fine. Lots of sleeping bodies in Villaines control. Cracked 1000k. Moo.”
Tweet: “Partner in crime too broken to continue for now. Sucks but it’s a tough ride. I pushed on alone to Montagne. #PB“
For some reason I was buzzing at Villaines and with only 200k to go wanted to crack on. Ciaran was fooked though so I ended up chatting with David DCLane (yacf) and Brendan, an Aussie who was riding with the Danish guys. After an hour’s sleep I woke Ciaran up but he was still not prepared to continue. I gave him a coffee but he seemed pretty broken and needed more sleep. After a couple more offers we decided to split – he would sleep and nurse his ankles and I would carry on.
Tweet: “Roadside support from locals is fantastic.”
Now ‘off the leash’ I smashed it to the next control – Mortagne au Peche. I remember spending a lot of time getting aero and taking very wide lines around groups or individual riders who would often wobble or be riding right on the middle lane lines, I guess so that if they did nod off they wouldn’t be in the dirt! Arrived and felt a bit knackered – guess the adrenalin had worn off. After some food decided to sleep but was then woken up by a woman after I’d slept through unknown alarms! Shit! I panicked and grabbed everything and ran out with a dead arm from lack of circulation laying on the floor in my full kit. I saw Adrian, which shocked me because Ciaran said he was 10 hours behind (how long had I slept?!). Hugged him and then with a “which way is Paris?!?” sped off. It took me about 30min before I shook off the dead arm and grogginess and then got going again. Back into an aero tuck and racing up and down hills. I was flying past everyone. Stopped to take off the rain jacket and high-viz and sped past more bunches and more ‘road potatos’ – riders wrapped up in foil blankets on the roadside.
At Dreux I was running through the control (difficult in midfoot Speedplay cleats). I ran the wrong way but eventually got in and found water, food (coffee eclair and Paris Brest Paris bun!) and some cans of drink. Carried the coke in my jersey. Disappointed they didn’t have any energy drink to mix into my bottles. Past the Audax Australia guy with the recumbent again and was back on a mission. Flew past bunch after bunch, mad as hell, attack, attack!!! Some duo yelled at me – I looked. They whistled and I realised they wanted me to join them. I was like “if two of you can’t catch me then what’s the point? I’m not dragging your arses to the finish!”.
With 10k to go I was in agony – I’d rubbed my sit bone skin raw with the new ISM PN1.1 saddle. I didn’t want to stop to add more chamois cream though. I remember drinking the can of coke riding away from a bunch on one of the final climbs. Fat man in vertical ascent shocker! They must’ve hated that. The crowds were cheering me on – it was fantastic. Then I was at the velodrome, down some silly dirt track chute and parking my bike, right next to Mark from the Eurostar who’d had a stunning ride on such a non race bike.
Into the ‘drome to hand in the brevet card and a feed and then got chatting to Chris who’s rider had knocked 30 hours off his PB! Found DCLane again and also Brendan with another Aussie who was heading off to Alpe d’Huez later that week. Probably other people but I was a bit vague after that final effort. I had a shower and then struggled around St Quentin looking for the Gare and decided it was just easier (if a lot more painful) to ride back to the hotel.
Tweet: “What do you do after cycling 1200k? Ride another 10 to get back to your hotel. #muglife#PBP“
Had a disappointing steak from the same place we went the other night (chatted to a Canadian rider who’d packed after 600k) and back at the hotel helped a German rider R109 with charging his phone so he could find his mates. I fell asleep before he could give me the charger back but it was on my door when I woke. Finally had some F1 breakfast and then, since it was raining and I was so sore I grabbed a cab to the station and took a train into Paris Montparnasse. Then after some fool told me to get a Metro ticket and I was then told “no bikes” after buying the ticket I decided to ride the 5-6k to Gare du Nord (it wasn’t raining here and I stood up most of the way). Dropped my bike off and went in search of beer. Found beer, travelled home, having a nice conversation with a Kiwi couple who’d been working in England and were touring Europe before heading home to New Zealand.
Tweet: “My mouth feels like it has the plague, also known as The Baguette Death. #PBP“
69 hours total, 46 hours ride time, 24 hours lost in Controls. Powertap stopped after 13 hours so no idea about true effort of this ride.
Summary posted on YACF: I enjoyed the first fast 12 hours riding with Ciaran in the D bunch. I think we were at Brest in 26hrs. He wanted to stop but I wanted to push on while it was still light. So we did to Carhaix, where we spent 9 hours! I think I got a couple of hours sleep and multiple feeds here then lost Ciaran and finally found him after searching the entire complex and thinking he’d left without me. The late start meant we missed the fog. Then it was a nice day with me mostly riding easy pace on the front of a small group of Ciaran + randoms. At Villaines that night though his ankles were too much for him so he had an hour’s kip while I talked to DCLane and Aussie Brendan in DK kit. Woke C up but he decided he couldn’t go on, not now at least so I had to carry on without him. Smashed it to the next control – Montange? Then slept through my alarm so I don’t yet know how much time I lost. Was woken by a woman and panicked about how much time I’d been asleep so rushed out, with a dead arm as I’d slept in all my kit, past Adrian (TransAm racer) and after a “where’s Paris?” was on the road. Hammered it from here to the finish, passing tonnes of broken looking riders. I was feeling fine right up until 10k to go when I was really struggling to stay seated with such pain from the Adamo (probably not the best choice given the long stints of slow sat-up riding). Still came in pretty quick though and was pretty happy with most of the ride.
69hrs total, but 24hr of that was wasted in controls! Sub-50hr next time, not messing about.
Summary posted on LFGSS: I had to leave @scultura at Villaines as he was broken and a kip didn’t help. Tried to egg him on but the poor bloke had left everything on the road. I left and went a bit mental but then fell asleep at the next control and slept through my alarms! Some woman woke me and with a dead arm I ran out to my bike asking which way Paris was! Saw Adrian TransCon and then bashed the final two sections, soloing past tonnes of broken looking people. Road bike + adamo did bad thing to me. Couldn’t sit properly for last 10k. Enjoyed first 12hrs in mental bunch, but we lost it at control then it all went shit. Second day was good fun just tapping out easy pace in nice weather. Next night I was enjoying until losing @scultura and no idea how long I was out for. Skip controls and there’s massive time saving to be had. Is there a PBP perm?
Oh, just wanted to say thanks to to Marcus for his great packing lists, they helped me a lot when it came to thinking about what to carry:
11pm Friday night was as good a time as any to enter the Straight Outta Hackney 200k audax organised by Justin Jones from the ACH. I thought it would be a good idea to actually ride my road bike before PBP and this started from the Salisbury Hotel, Harringay, about an hour away from me and seemed like a good one. It had nothing to do with the promise of free beer and bbq after the finish, honest
Owing to the early start and lack of traffic, I arrived at the start at 7:10, way too early but better than arriving late… again.
We all rolled out at 8am and I quickly overtook the bigger bunches and was alone for a while until I found a group of four who were moving pretty rapidly so I latched on. This group shed one bloke but lasted until the first control at Ickleton (destroyed some cake and sorted a bottle refill) where ZigZag (I found out he was on YACF after the ride) took off on his singlespeed (respect!) and was never seen again (except when we briefly crossed paths in Cambridge).
The rest of the ride was then a solo ride for ZigZag and probably anywhere from 5-30min back, myself. I stopped at Cambridge to refuel and then again at the Puckeridge control where I chatted to Tim S of SteamRide audax fame (yes, I’ll probably ride your 300 this year!).
Zoomed back into London after lots of pretty lanes, plains and villages and headed to the organisers house, then trundled up to the pub to officially finish and enjoy some refreshments (he means beer). Spent the time waiting for the other riders to return getting some valuable PBP tips from ZigZag and some of the other riders. Damon Peacock was there with some cameras again and interviewed me! Fame! I wanna live forever… Fame! 😉
A few hours later we headed back to Justin’s place where he’d sorted out beer from a friend at Five Points Brewery as well as a great BBQ. What a great finish to a ride! To be honest I would’ve loved to have done my normal thing and got trashed but I was actually a good boy and chatted more to the friendly folks before riding home to my poor cycling widow.
So, many thanks to ACH and the volunteers and everyone who turned up to ride and be merry, I had a great day out!
After the flight back from the 24hr Worlds in 2014 I found myself with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in the left calf (“deep perforator vein within the medial aspect of the left soleus muscle which extends over a length of 5cm”). Cue many needles (Fragmin/Dalteparin), many blood tests and 3 months on rat poison (Warfarin). This DVT episode was over on March 1st when I took my last Warfarin dose and then promptly crashed after hitting a pothole on my commute home. Cue many more hospital visits, blood tests, x-rays, physio, etc.
Spin forward to July 1st and I’ve been diagnosed with another DVT, again in my left calf (left peroneal vein to be precise) but this time with no obvious cause – no flights, no long days in the office, nothing obvious anyway. Yay! It’s now July 9th and for a week I’ve been jabbing my stomach with a combination of Tinzaparin and the leftover Fragmin syringes I had from the first clot – my abs are sore – it feels like I’ve been doing situps all day.
The clotting profile blood test results from July 1st won’t be available for 6 weeks to 2 months for some reason so the cause of the clot will remain unknown until then (could be remnants of the first clot, could be genetic or it could be another disease). In the meantime I’ve asked to be put on Rivaroxaban (thanks Alex!), an alternative drug to Warfarin that doesn’t need constant blood tests to monitor INR level (clotting speed). I’ll find out about this when I go back to the hospital on Monday.
Oh, I also found out that my red cell count is low – I’m likely low in iron – seems odd given my gloopy blood but it’s just like me to have the worst of both worlds – slow blood AND not enough red cells. No wonder my training has fallen in a hole!
So, I will continue to wear my sexy (not sexy) calf compression socks and I’ve bought myself a Garmin Vivofit fitness tracker band which you wear all the time and it vibrates when you’ve sat immobile for too long. It’ll probably just mean I drink a lot more coffee than I do now. All of this just weeks before the National 24hr TT. Timing, kid, you’ve got it.
It looks like I might’ve finally cracked the issue of the cassette rubbing the Raltech disc covers due to their not being enough space behind the cassette. It was thanks to this blog post from Dark Speed Works.
Below is a copy of their guide for my notes. It’s for an 11-23T Ultegra cassette (DA doesn’t seem possible because it has a 2-3-1-1-1-1-1-1 config and I can’t find the individual sprockets to swap out the 3-block). The idea is to convert it to 10spd but with 11spd spacing and move the whole cassette out a bit.
“The solution on this cassette is slightly different from the previous two. You will need to buy a specific 17T cog for Ultegra 6800 cassettes (Shimano part no. Y-1Y917200). And you’ll also need two 2.18mm 11s cassette spacers for Ultegra 6800 cassettes (Shimano part no. Y-1Y953000, Shimano calls them ‘sprocket spacers’). Once you have these parts in hand, before mounting the 11-23 cassette on your wheel, remove the 17-18T sprocket unit (with cogs riveted together). If you drop out this sprocket unit and replace it with the 17T cog that you bought, the cassette will still have a progressive gearing spread (the same gearing that Shimano uses for 10-speed 11-23 cassettes). And one of the extra 11s cassette spacers that you bought will be used as a ‘behind-cassette spacer’ (see below). So, to create and mount the hybrid 11-23 cassette, you would put on the rear wheel freehub body, in this order:
one of the 11s cassette spacers that you bought (needed as a behind-cassette spacer)
the 19-21-23T sprocket unit (these cogs are riveted together)
the 17T cog that you bought
one of the 11s cassette spacers that you bought
the 16T cog
an 11s cassette spacer
the 15T cog
an 11s cassette spacer
the 14T cog
an 11s cassette spacer
the 13T cog
the 12T cog (cog has an integrated spacer)
the 11T cog (cog has an integrated spacer)
Finally, the cassette lock ring (properly screwed on).
When you’re done, you should only have the 17-18T sprocket unit left over. Properly adjust your 11-speed rear derailleur limit screws for this hybrid cassette, test it out thoroughly, and you should be good to go. (Save the 17-18T sprocket unit should you ever need to convert this cassette back to full 11-speed.)
This was supposed to be an A event for me – I wanted to have a crack at breaking the 300 mile mark for 12 hours. At the end, I was almost 20 miles down on last year’s distance, having achieved none of my goals. Fail.
The race consisted of 5 hours on the ball, sitting pretty, so to speak, nailing my selected power and then LEGSGOBANG! a rapid decline such that I (barely) finished the event having averaged the power I’d typically ride during a 24hr. Meh. Big ol’ cup o’ meh.
All I can pin it down to is having a dose of the squits the day before and the morning of the race. Theory being, if your guts is dodgy, you’re body isn’t properly taking on nutrients and I basically just ran out of energy, even though I was eating my Torq goodies just fine.
The next 7 hours were then a feeble procession with a few attempts to pack (quit) but my team wouldn’t let me! I’m not one to bail on a race without there being a fatal mechanical or a hospital visit involved so the going must’ve been grim! Thanks to them I did get a 12hr training ride done and I guess it was still the second fastest 12hr I’ve ridden but when you know you can do so much better it sucks to fall apart so bad on race day.
Congrats to Mark Holton riding the second fastest 12hr ever, a 316.74mi, just behind Andy Wilkinson’s Comp Record 317 miles and Jill Wilkinson who rode the second fastest women’s 12hr ever with a 269.85mi ride. Also, nice work to Hoppo who bashed out a career high 270.89 miles.
Unfortunately due to the general feebleness of modern humans there aren’t many 12hrs run these days and the remaining events clash with other races/rides I’m doing so it looks like I’ll have to wait another year to crack the 300.
Having pre-ridden the 25 mile course a couple of times the day before I knew there were roadworks in place on the A4 and assumed they’d be completed by Sunday but alas, no. I guess they decided that it was easier to set up two-way traffic lights and a tonne of traffic cones and delay everyone than fill in the little hole around the drain.
So, arriving on Sunday with some unfinished business to attend to on the ‘ski slope’ H25/2 course, I was gutted to find out the race had been shortened to a 10mi using the H10/22 course I’d PB’d on earlier in the year. My annoying 1:00:04 on this course will remain a while longer.
So, to the 10. It was a spluttery, snotty, horrible ride that may or may not have been well paced (I’m writing this weeks later) and I fell short of my previous best by 16 seconds, even with a supposedly faster setup. Luckily with all the hype around Wiggos Hour Record attempt that night I knew that the air pressure was totally crap for racing so… Excuse 1098: Air Pressure Too High, ACTIVATE!
The Beast from the East starts from Waltham Abbey and heads southwest to Taunton Dean services before returning via a different path to the start. Check out the Beast from the East route here.
Even with a bit of a headwind the first half of the Beast was very enjoyable – nice weather, interesting scenery (stopping to watch skydivers those ‘Tank Crossing’ signs stick out in my memory) and some good chatting and lunch stop with Adrian O’Sullivan. Adrian is in training for the TransAm Race, a non-stop, self-supported road bike race along the 4,233 mile Trans America Trail. He’s proper hardcore!
After getting a bit lost finding the services, I grabbed a sandwich and bottle refill and headed out again, wanting to get to the next control for dinner before it was too dark. Uh oh, it seems the Garmin 800 did one of its numerous ‘tricks’ and doesn’t have Stage 5 of the route available (yes, it was definitely copied, I’ve had this issue before when it just ignores files you add to NewFiles). Anyway, perfect opportunity to try out the Garmin 810 I bought as a backup.
The darkness moves in and initially it’s not too bad, as the roads are big, not full of potholes and not busy. I take many a wrong turn during the night, ie. ending up on an overpass, riding 20m above the road I’m supposed to be turning right onto! Cue median strip jumping and big U-turn.
Some of the navigation issues were my fault but a lot of them were caused by the Garmin 810 being a piece of crap. The device would just freeze so I’d be happily following the current road while it looked right and then eventually something would seem odd, like the distance not going down or whatever and I’d swipe it and nothing would happen. It was locked up totally and I had to power it down, wait for a GPS fix again and them resume the Course I was on. It was utterly ridiculous and I’m still trying to sort it out now – it’s likely to go back to Garmin as not fit for purpose and I’ll get another 800 as a backup instead or maybe just stick with my old eTrex.
In the early hours it got REALLY cold. I thought I was clever packing long finger gloves, leg warmers and arm warmers after getting cold on the 400, but it still wasn’t near enough. I was looking around for something burning to warm up by! At one stage I was going to ask some police in a small town to put me in a cell to sleep and get some heat back in. Nothing was open so I couldn’t get a warming coffee for hours. I think I need to work a bit more on what to carry in terms of clothing and food – since you can’t buy either at 4am on a Sunday!
So, it was pretty miserable until the sun started coming up around maybe 5am. It got a bit warmer and I knocked off a few more miles, as well as adding some extra as I visited every service station in the Chilterns – none of which had a working toilet!!! and then OMG I’ve never been so happy to see Beaconsfield services! They were open, sold coffee and had functioning toilets. Bliss. City boy here used to stuff being open at 4am.
Thanks to organiser Mark Brooking for letting me ride the route-check event. Apparently night time temperatures were as low as 3C!