The Hungerford Big Wheel

Posted: July 2, 2013 in Cycling, training
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ok, so there I am, lying in bed on a Sunday morning, recovering from the previous days cycle ride down to see Mummy, when the 07:30 alarm goes indicating time for me to get up and psyche myself for today’s great adventure. To be honest, after the 50, 60, 70+ mile rides of late, the 26 mile family ride wasn’t really going to be an issue!

It would however be different..

All the banners advertising The BigWheel suggested a start of 10:00 but I suspected otherwise and that 10:45 was nearer the mark: I was right 🙂

Actually I wasn’t right: we started at 10:43 but what’s 2 minutes between friends?

Anyway, Charles, Nick and I arrived to register and pay our fee, plus donations to the causes as well of course (as we weren’t getting sponsorship for this ride). Then came Nicks turn: oh, have I got to pay? ‘Err, yes you do” I replied. Now I should of course known that ‘oh, have I got to pay’ actually meant ‘get your money out’ 🙂 still it was for a good cause and I knew Nick would enjoy the ride! Especially as he’d brought his Colnago EP (all carbon) to do the ride! Mind you, it was decked out with Shimano 😦
So, at the allotted hour of 10:43 we were set off from Hungerford Common (pleased to note that the cows had been moved away: I hate cows) along the back roads. Then it happened, we were directed off the road into a field where we followed a single track across farmland, crossed A338 and into a private estate with yet more tracks. Generally speaking, we were off road more than we were on road. Small wonder then that Nick buggered off with his brother, Matt, to do their own thing. The next time I was to see them was to be back at home.
Down track, up track, along track we went. I was amazed to see just how many homes there actually down these tracks, though we never saw any inhabitants. Curious. Then we came to a long track under low hanging trees all flooded. 2-choices faced me: go through the flood (but what was under the water) or work round a small track made by previous riders (that’s right, we weren’t at the front): I opted for the latter. Trouble is, I didn’t see the outcrop of flint against bare tree roots. Both were slippery and both went in different directions as did and my bike. The bike folded and laid down while I went over the bats into the lake (okay, the ‘lake’ was a puddle) where I found the water to surprisingly warm, as was the day.
Naturally, with the minimum of fuss and just a slight murder of ‘oh bother’ I remounted my steed and carried on. And on I went wondering what was the rattling, scraping sound coming from my rear tyre. Charles quickly appraised me of the situation, my mud / crud guard had loosened and fallen onto the wheel. This was an easy fix, rip it off and shove it in my back pocket on on we went, deeper and deeper into Savernake Forest until at last, the BBQ was espied. Burgers, Hot Dogs, Flap Jack, Cake (all makes), tea, coffee & juice. We had arrived at cycling heaven. And so Charles and I relaxed and pigged out. Well actually, I had two burgers and a very very small piece of cake while Charles tucked into his Veggie burger.
All too soon, it was time to leave, but which way? There were no signs. But, secretly, I’m an expert tracker so we followed the wheel tracks left by previous cyclist (still not at the front). Charles had already warned me about the next bit. Apparently, it was to be a very very steep drop down a grassy bank and though trees. F%#*k me he was right. There were even signs (confirming we were on the right route) advising us to dismount – believe me, I already had. It was steeper than stairs down to a town house cellar but, slippery as well. Down we went through small trees and huge stinging nettles, all desperately trying to sting my wounds from my earlier fall) until at last, we reached level ground.
From here on it was a dioddle, an absolute doddle. All the way, it wad flat, bumpy (very bumpy) but flat. Charles provided a running commentary on who lives where and which greedy cad owns which fields and the scoundrel who gave over the minimum amount to public right of way (I don’t think Charles likes rich land owners) until at last we reached the point from where we started. After that, it was down to thee Downgate for a pint, or two, of rehydration fluids (beer). And then off home to rest an recuperate.
So that was that: 26 miles, mostly off road, which must equate to 40 miles on road.
The next big ride will be the BIG one, to Ligueil.

Go Podge, go

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