Cycle 210km inc. Cheltenham Flyer 206km/7h30 (inc. 9 min stopped) ascent 1675m
Bishop’s Cleeve – Stanway ____ 16.2km/0:34 (28.6km/h) _ HR138(159) asc. 132m
Stanway – Sherborne ________ 25.7km/0:57 (26.9km/h) _ HR141(167) asc. 380m
Sherborne – Circencester _____ 23.8km/0:50 (28.4km/h) _ HR140(161) asc. 176m
Circencester – Bushton _______ 32.5km/1:07 (28.9km/h) _ HR143(165) asc. 206m
Bushton – Badminton ________ 51.7km/1:49 (28.4km/h) _ HR145(162) asc. 334m
Badminton – Bishop’s Cleeve __ 56.7km/2:03 (27.7km/h) _ HR140(157) asc. 446m
The forecast looked good for this audax, and for once we weren’t disappointed. There was a bit more exotic machinery around than last time – some carbon fibre Specialized and Giant racers and I saw a Colnago C50, complete with Record 11 groupset and Shamal wheels! We were started in three groups to prevent too big a peleton of cyclists blocking the roads and I set off with the second group. It’s a short hop to the first roadside control and I know that if you want to catch the fast boys you’ve got to get your brevet card stamped in the first 20 or so to ensure a quick getaway. I left my group and with Dave Lewis on my wheel bridged across to the tail of the group in front. We were quite a large bunch at this point and I didn’t get many opportunities to hop through the gaps but as we approached the checkpoint I was safely in the first 15 or so.
On the long climb out of Stanway a few riders forged ahead and I kept a steadier tempo just behind them. Eventually a lead group of five formed ahead, and then me, and a few other single riders not far behind. It stayed like that most of the way through Bourton-on-the-water, I wasn’t prepared to expend the extra energy reeling them in, and on to the next roadside check. I rolled up just as the others were leaving and not long after I left, a large bunch pulled up behind to get their cards stamped – they were evidently only a few minutes behind me, although it felt as if I was on my own on the road.
Rolling down the fast B4425 I just about kept the fast group in sight without feeling that I was having to bust a gut although I knew this was probably too fast a pace for an all day ride. I just about caught then when they had to wait at some traffic lights and I sailed through on green. As we approached Greasy Joe’s, the next checkpoint, we were swamped by the arrival of about 40 riders on the Swindon RC club run. In the chaos at the cafe I managed to get my brevet stamped quickly, and went straight back out on to the road, ahead of the fast group. I was on my own now and kept up a good pace. The roads round here are twisty but generally not too bad. There was a bit of a following wind which blew me down to the next checkpoint, Bushton Village Hall. There were already three riders eating outside the hall when I got there, but they weren’t on the audax, and seemed to have just chanced on the refreshments there. The route doubled back on itself here for a kilometre or so and I rode all this bit, to the hall and back, without seeing another rider so I knew I was well clear of them now.
The next section was fairly flat although there were some nasty drags in places including a big up and down at Bowden Hill and the road surfaces were not the best – tar and chipping. A north westerly headwind was starting to make its prescence felt.
I left the final control feeling a bit tired but knowing I had enough energy in the bank for the final 55km. The last time I rode this event I ran out of food and drink halfway through this stage and really struggled back to Cheltenham – I can still remember stopping at an information control with 25km left to go and eating the last half of a “Go” bar from my back pocket and washing it down with the dregs of my squash before carrying on. No such problems this time, although I had to fight a strengthing wind up the testing draggy climb to Winstone. I hit 66km/h on the descent into Cheltenham and then negotiated the traffic OK to roll up at the village hall in good shape.
I had a tuna roll, a chat with the controller about my bike, and a couple of cups of tea before heading back to the car parked at the start, on the other side of Bishop’s Cleeve.