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A 300km ride across Southern Britain. Here's how it went.

I'm attempting a Super Randonneur series this year: 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km rides in a calendar year. Easter weekend was the second leg, with a solo effort across plenty of Southern Britain back to my folks' house in East Bergholt. Here's a diary of events...

4am: Wake up, scoff a banana, hastily put on cycling gear and wheel already-packed bike out of the drive. Set off. Get 4km down the road, glance at Garmin, realise I've accidentally set my alarm an hour early. I was going to set off at five. Ho hum. At least there's a tailwind.

6am: The mist has become light rain. It's not warm out. My mid-season gloves are looking like they might possibly be a season short of ideal. I check my fingers, some of them appear to be missing. 

9am: Three hours of wet, cold, riding later I'm at a pretty low ebb, and it's not helped by a puncture 5km out from what was meant to be my first stop. It takes five minutes of blowing into my hands to get them to a point where they're capable of removing the tyre. I'm reminded why I like tubeless at this point. Wrestle a new tube in, try to gun it with CO2, the head pops off and the gas adds infintesimally to global warming instead of getting me back on the road. Do some swears.

9.15am: Attempt to pump up tube but pump doesn't appear to be working. Do some more swears, rip the pump off the tube and break the valve in the process. Almost throw pump in hedge. Remove broken tube, patch up punctured tube, strip down pump and pour some water in it to create a seal (it appears to be low on grease inside), pump up tyre, set off gingerly avoiding road debris for a bit, until I forget.

9.30am: Make it to my brother-in-law's house where he feeds me copious amounts of tea and muffins and cookies, and I dry my gloves by wringing them in a towel. It's stopped raining. I'm 117km in. It feels like my luck is improving.

11am: The Garmin ticks over to 150km, I'm somewhere in the Chilterns. It's amazingly flat, most of Southern Britain. 6km in I had to winch myself up Winsley Hill on the way to Bradford-on-Avon. I clicked up to the big ring after that. I'm still in it. I've become a bit bloody-minded about it.

11:30am Defeated by Hale Road out the back of Wendover, and its 14% section. The big ring charge is over after 156km.

1pm: Lunch in Wheathampsted (198km), chilli bean soup and a big mug of coffee in a roadside cafe. Just the ticket. The sun's out, it's a very different day to seven hours ago battling across Wiltshire in the pouring rain. That's one of the joys of a long ride. The Garmin's on charge and the phone is next; nine hours is a pretty good innings for the Edge 1000. It'll get home on this next charge. I've rigged up a Heath-Robinson battery mount with some Sugru and magnets but the Garmin won't charge when it's straight because the lead gets pushed out of the socket. So I have to do a couple of hours following the route at an angle.

4pm: I've made it to the Essex border and psychologically I know I can make it back from there barring some kind of total mechanical or physical failure. I've been saying the distance to go out loud, counting down. Seventy Five Kilometres to go. Seventy Four. Seventy Three. Deep down I know it'll be more than 300km, because it always, always is. At 230km I swap the distance field on the Garmin out for something else so I'm not fixated by it. I'm spending a lot of time on the aero bars now, just trying to bash out the miles. I'm glad I fitted them.

5.30pm: 300km is up. I'm not home, but then I'd resigned myself to that. The last leg along the River Stour is beautiful, from Bures to Stoke-by-Nayland along empty lanes in the afternoon sunshine. After the last climb to Stoke, which I do in the big ring just because, It's downhill the the A12 and a wander through the village with a last kick up Rectory Hill to finish.

6.10pm: Final destination: Flatford Lane. 317km. Just under twelve and a half hours in the saddle with two hours of stops. Now to eat all the things, all weekend.

www.strava.com/activities/278028404

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

17 comments

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Bez [619 posts] 4 years ago
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Tidy. I'm wondering if I should try aero bars. It just feels… dirty, though.

Care to talk us through the process of getting a DIY perm rubber-stamped?

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dave atkinson [6530 posts] 4 years ago
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Bez wrote:

Care to talk us through the process of getting a DIY perm rubber-stamped?

you can submit a DIY route based on a google map. you'll need to switch to classic maps, and walking mode, and be careful to make sure that your route doesn't include any off-road bits that are walkable but not really rideable. I had to make a couple of detours from my route  1 the route will need to be at least as long as the distance you're going for, natch.

then you can submit the route via a form on aukweb.net - you can fill in all the checkpoints but it's not strictly necessary if you include a link to your map, as they'll be on that. assuming it's ratified by the organiser you pay your few quid for a virtual brevet card and go off and do the ride, then submit the .gpx file as proof. if you're not sure when you're going to do the ride you can submit a distant-future time and update it nearer the off.

i've submitted mine, but only today, so it's not been processed yet. it's the first one i've done as a DIY so i'm hoping i've jumped through all the right hoops.

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Bez [619 posts] 4 years ago
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Ace. Thanks  1

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Martin Thomas [385 posts] 4 years ago
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Good effort Dave! I'm intrigued by the whole epic ride thing...doing my first audax soon but it's a paltry 200k. One kit question: how have you fixed that Carradice onto your (Charge?) saddle?

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dave atkinson [6530 posts] 4 years ago
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Martin Thomas wrote:

Good effort Dave! I'm intrigued by the whole epic ride thing...doing my first audax soon but it's a paltry 200k. One kit question: how have you fixed that Carradice onto your (Charge?) saddle?

using one of these bad boys: http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?page_id=product&under=range&product...

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Martin Thomas [385 posts] 4 years ago
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Yeah I've got one of them too but you still need to stick the straps through something at the top don't you? Just seen these for the first time: http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?page_id=product&under=range&product... Is that what you're using?

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Tony Hull [1 post] 4 years ago
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Dave Atkinson wrote:
Bez wrote:

Care to talk us through the process of getting a DIY perm rubber-stamped?

i've submitted mine, but only today, so it's not been processed yet. it's the first one i've done as a DIY so i'm hoping i've jumped through all the right hoops.

Processed now, and on the AUK Results.
Dave jumped through all the hoops perfectly (of course). He also described the process very well in his post above.
Any of the AUK DIY organisers can answer any queries about the process
http://www.aukweb.net/diy/gps/
(it's really a workshare rather than a regional division).
Best current guide to using Googlemaps for this job: Google "paudax" and select "planning your DIY..."

Happy Riding!

Tony

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dave atkinson [6530 posts] 4 years ago
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Martin Thomas wrote:

Yeah I've got one of them too but you still need to stick the straps through something at the top don't you? Just seen these for the first time: http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?page_id=product&under=range&product... Is that what you're using?

no, i'm using the QR version. it comes with a QR attachment that you ziptie to the dowel that runs along the back of the bag. then you just slot the bag on and off as necessary

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Martin Thomas [385 posts] 4 years ago
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Ah I see! Thanks Dave...that looks like the best way to do it. I might follow suit.

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Curto80 [53 posts] 4 years ago
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Good write up other than a disappointing lack of detail on how the Trippy performed. Go back and do it again.

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dave atkinson [6530 posts] 4 years ago
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Curto80 wrote:

Good write up other than a disappointing lack of detail on how the Trippy performed. Go back and do it again.

the tripster was the perfect bike for the job, pretty much. it did its job so well, there wasn't that much to say  1

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headwaiter [7 posts] 4 years ago
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Can you please tell me why you are talking in kilometres in England? For your information we have miles, check the signposts.

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andyp [1606 posts] 4 years ago
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'Can you please tell me why you are talking in kilometres in England? For your information we have miles, check the signposts.'

Because a) it's not the 1960s any more, b) cycling always uses metric measurements (barring UK TTs) and c) practically everything else uses metric measurements also. Are we feeling a bit touchy because Nigel lost his seat?

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headwaiter [7 posts] 4 years ago
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What an extremely childish comment"because Nigel lost his seat" grow up, this site is for adults.
I just cannot see why people talk in kilometres when we have miles in GB.

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robert.brady [155 posts] 4 years ago
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It's just an audax thing. Taken from their FAQ:

"kilometres are used because of AUK's close links with other similar organisations throughout the world, and particularly in France"

http://www.aukweb.net/aboutauk/faq/#06

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andyp [1606 posts] 4 years ago
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'What an extremely childish comment"because Nigel lost his seat" grow up, this site is for adults.
I just cannot see why people talk in kilometres when we have miles in GB.'

Despite all the reasons given? If this site is for adults surely they should be able to read and digest the information provided?

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headwaiter [7 posts] 4 years ago
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I would still like to know why you made that childish political comment about "Nigel"
Some while back somebody made a comment about people reading the Sunday Torygraph, can we keep this site politics free?