audax: Fairies Crown and Anchor 200

I rode a 200km audax yesterday. The Fairies Crown and Anchor 200. Organised by Bob under the auspices of the San Fairy Ann Cycling Club. It rained hard for a while but only to the first control in Wye. Memorable moments. A great spread of food laid out for breakfast at the start. Granola, wholemeal bread, peanut butter, bananas. Decent tea. Plates. A speedy toaster. Liz was in the kitchen. Very kind of her to go to such efforts and lay on such a great spread. I did not eat much. Still full from the porridge I had at home before leaving. On top of that, I’d prepared rice cakes and had seven big ones in my frame bag. The idea was to be self-sufficient. Next time I ride one of Bob’s events I shall know better. There was more food at the first control in Wye (26km). A small gazebo on the wet village green. I passed up the offering except for a fig roll.

From Wye we headed east and down to Walmer. I kept the pace up and worked hard on the hills. The fitter I feel the harder I push myself. It does not get easier you just get faster. Whoever said that was right. Not sure I go much faster though but I do push myself harder. Odd really. I never set out to do that. It just happens that way.

After a while, I felt the front tye feeling a bit squashy. A slow puncture. Pushed on for a while until a found a quiet spot to make the change. There was another 14 km to get to Walmer. Put the spare tube in and was off again. About 15 minutes of stopping time. Felt a bit of a challenge seeing others pass me by so cranked it up a bit to make good for the lost time. The competitive drive was getting the better of me.

A quick stop at the Esso garage for the control in Walmer. No need to stop at the cafe. Soon found out that the easy part of the ride was over. We were heading west now. Up and over the cliffs to Dover. Had the thought then that if ever it feels like there is no wind chances are it’s behind you. It had been behind us. The wind was coming in from the west. Our heading for the next 70km or so. The road uphill from Dover to Folkstone was a hard slog. Once through Folkstone I stopped at the Esso at the end of Marine Parade for a large coffee, can of Relentless and a Boost bar. I needed them. Setting off again I saw a cyclist who I would come to know was Edwardo pass by. We got to Wye together but I left him as we headed over to Dover from Walmer. I caught up and suggested we take turns into the wind. Offer accepted I took the lead. Charged up with caffeine I was feeling strong again. A glance behind and I saw that I had left him behind. I slowed down a bit and waited. Just as he took over the lead my front tyre went completely flat. Ahh well. That’s how it goes some times. Turned out a big hole I’d patched before was too big. The patch had failed. The time now to find and mend the hole in the tube I swapped out earlier. Another 20 minutes or so off the bike.

When I got to Dungeness I headed straight to the Brittania Inn for a pint. It had been an effort to get there. Felt better for a beer and a plate of chips. The self-sufficient idea had been forgotten. The rice cakes had been good though and I had more left. A habit I guess of spending to consume. Whatever. I set out once more after half an hour. From here to Rye was gruesome. A real effort into the wind. Slow and bumpy. Type two fun for sure. The stretch from Rye to Ore on the edge of Hastings was out of the wind but hilly. Give me hills any day rather than wind on the flats.

The last proper control was at a garage at Ore. Another coffee, Red Bull and Boost bar. 46 km to go. The direction of travel negated whatever the wind was doing. Lumpy now but with a fair balance of fast downhills and short climbs. Felt like I was making good progress again. A bit put out that my overall time was looking to be around 11 hours. I had between nine and ten in mind when I set out and to finish around dusk. I pushed hard again. I just wanted to finish now. Got back to the village hall in Ulcombe at just got seven. It was dark. Liz was in the kitchen again assisted by a motherly Rita. They were great. ‘You sit down. We’ll bring your food over’ or words to that effect. So kind. Five stars for the butternut squash soup. Had a chat with Bob and Edwardo who’d arrived sometime before I did then headed off home in the car. It was a good days ride.