Kings, Castles, Priests and Churches 200 km Audax.

The forecast for Saturday 05/12/15 was pretty windy. 28 mph with gusts of 43 mph from the SSW. Kings, Castles, Priests and Churches 200 km audax was on my calendar. I struggled with the hills and ice last year on this route. Not feeling especially on form this time round. Convinced I was in for a tough ride I had mulled over excuses for bailing it before I started. The ride sets off and finishes in Tewkesbury. The mother in law is in Gloucester just 15 miles from the start. The missus and I had planned to get in a pre-Christmas visit with the boys. There was no wimping out. Family and bags in the car and the bike fixed on top. We were off Friday night for the drive from Kent over to the West Country.

The harbinger of doom came as soon as we arrived. I could not find the spanner I had packed to undo the bolt on the clamp which held my bike tight to the roof mount. The mother in law had recently moved house. Everything was still in boxes. We looked around for some tools to no avail. It was getting late. I needed to get out for a spin to keep up the unbroken chain of #rideeveryday in 2015. Off to the 24 hour Tescos to buy a spanner. No luck there. OK let’s try Asda. They only had socket sets. That was no good for me. I’ll spare the details why. It was past 11pm. It looked like I may miss the daily ride. As equally bad it also seemed I may have to spend the next day in the company of the mother in law! As lovely and kind as she is a day in her company is on my list of things I try to avoid. I was now quietly working my mantras to stay calm and let go of the expectation that things should go my way!

Like many men my looking skills are no match for those of the wife. As I paced about muttering obscenities to myself she suddenly and triumphantly raised spanner in hand having produced it Arthurian like from my coat pocket! Sheepish thanks and furtive looks all round. Monica had saved the day. I got out for a ride at 11.38 pm, the chain remained unbroken and things were back on track for Saturdays Audax.

the route

the route

elevation profile

elevation profile

Ready for the off.

Ready for the off.

The ride was as you might expect a bit trying at times. Sure the breeze was behind us for some of the miles but it was at least 50/50 I reckon with strong headwinds and gusts from the side. Throw in 1,750 metres of lumps on the way and you have a testing day on the bike. I can’t knock the route though. Passing through some sweeping vistas, quiet lanes and country roads it is a well planned passage with some great control stops on the way. The Chocolate Box in Kington deserves a special mention. It’s a small café / shop on the high street. You make your way round the back, in through the kitchen door and upstairs to the first floor seating area. It’s clearly the families dining room which is given over to accommodate customers at busy times. Mum, dad, son and daughter all involved. If you like a quirky homely atmosphere this place is definitely worth a visit.

Upstairs in the Chocolate Box, Kington.

Upstairs in the Chocolate Box, Kington.

It made me laugh anyway.

It made me laugh anyway.

A fitting spot for the last picture of Gezel in one piece.

A fitting spot for the last picture of Gezel in one piece.

11 hours later (9 ½ hours moving time) I reached the arrivee with some relief. I’d done it! Not too proud to say if there had have been an opportunity to bail on the way it’s likely that I would have. So pleased there wasn’t though as the feeling I get for several days after completing a tough ride is well worth the effort. I DNF (did not finish) last months audax. The Garmin ran out of batteries at 104 miles with just 20 or so left to go. It was dark. I had no other means to navigate the route. A train station was within 5 miles. I could live with the decision to get a train home on that occasion but I did feel rubbish about it all month. This month’s effort has raised my spirits and strengthened my resolve to keep going with these rides next year.

And so it same to drive back to Gloucester. When I got out of the car at the mother in law’s address horror of horrors my bike was not on the roof where it should have been. Disbelief was quickly followed by panic! Where did it come off? Did it hit anyone? What about my #rideeveryday? I got back in the car and retraced my route. Some eight miles or so from Tewkesbury on the A38 I spotted a couple of policemen looking in the verge with torches. I guessed they had found my bike and were now looking for its owner. They explained to me that they had received reports of a push bike in the road. I told them what had happened. The search for my body ended. Fortunately my error had not led to anyone crashing or being harmed. The bike was though shredded! It looked as though a car or two had run over it. I picked up the pieces, stuck them in the back of the car, gave my details, got an incident number and was on my way.

The dearly departed.

The dearly departed.

Made the claim today which my insurers accepted. Waiting now to see what they will offer in the way of a replacement. Looks like a new bike for Christmas for me. In the meantime I have a loan of a bike from a friend who lives locally. I was out on it yesterday and today. That’s 341 consecutive days (Ron Hill streak) now. Oh, and today I passed the 10,000 mile target I set myself for 2015. Funny how things turn out eh?

2 Comments

  1. Enjoyed that.

    Must have been getting the bottles filled at the cafe as my stuff is in your pic but no me.

    How did you loose the bike off the car?

    I note you had a DNF – I have two backup plans to stop this.

    1. Carry a battery backup device so can charge garmin on the go.

    2.have my iPhone with mapping so if garmin packs up I can tell it to get me to next control on the route sheet.

    Cheers

  2. Hi Oliver. Cheers. I did not strap the wheels down. There was also a twenty foot section of road a little bit before the spot where my bike was found where the tarmac had been skimmed off. Bumping over that most likely dislodged the bike and started of it’s decline backwards and off the roof.

    As for the DNF; I had a charger with me. When the power went on the Garmin, which I knew was on the cards, the plan was to simply do as you suggest. The charger was flat! I also have a spare Garmin which I omitted to pack. It was my phone that told me I was just five miles from the nearest station which as it happens was in Berkhamsted where the next control was.

    So many things I could have done in hindsight to prevent both outcomes. In some ways I find that reassuring as I know what I need to do in future to avoid such mishaps again. It’s a cliche I know but prepare to fail if you fail to prepare. Or something like that.

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