Cycle 252km, inc. Barbury Bash 210km audax. HR125(152), ascent 2500m
20½km to the start
210km/7:55 inc. 15min stopped. steady, HR126(152) asc.2296m
Another early start (although not as early as Jules, who was off to help marshal at Blenheim Tri). I left the house soon after 7am to ride over to Milton Park for an 8am start to this audax. There was a fairly small entry for this one (just 25 riders), so we had a pretty relaxed start.
Just four of us made up the front group, although my legs were feeling tired after yesterday and I got dropped on the way to Wantage! I managed to claw my way back to the other three by the time we’d got to the first checkpoint at Barbury Castle. It was slightly odd following the (paper) route sheet here, because the other three guys had GPS systems wth a slightly different route on it from the Audax website so sometimes I just trusted them and followed their wheels. There wasn’t much in it though.
After that I was riding steadily on my own. There were plenty of hills to negotiate in the middle section – something I’d forgotten since I last rode this audax – but I took them fairly steadily. I’d also forgotten what an eclectic collection of roads this route follows. On most audaxes, you often find that the route borrows a section from another audax, so you often end up riding the same roads in a different order. This one, though, seems to take some lanes that never get used in any other ride, and that makes it all the more interesting.
One of the guys from the front group rolled up to the 99km checkpoint just as I was leaving – he was never far behind me all day. The sun broke through the cloud a few times but it never got unbearably hot, thankfully, just very muggy. After the last checkpoint at the Living Rainforest exhibit, there was a good descent into Pangbourne where I stopped to fill my bottles for the last time at the Co-op, and then struggle up the hill out the other side. After cresting the top of the Chilterns at Cookley Green, it was nice to know that the remaining 20km would be on the flat, albeit with a headwind. I tucked down on to the drops and pushed on to finish inside 8 hours.
I had a couple of cups of tea and a chat to the next rider to finish – he’d only been about 10 minutes behind me at the end. I pedalled home, via Sunningwell, where I found the road closed and a little local festival going on. There was a band playing and a beer tent and other things, it looked like a good way to be spending the Sunday afternoon.