Back in the middle of January I bought a series of virtual Audax DIY-by-GPS cards, the idea being that I’d build up the distances after I’d recovered from the Thames Trot. I still had in the back of my mind that although I was planning on an easy year’s training, I should still be able to complete a Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400 & 600km). However, the weather remained grim and I had a series of colds and niggles and hardly rode my bike at all. I finally decided I was sort of fit enough to have a crack at a 200km ride and the weather forecast didn’t look too bad – mostly dry, at least. I applied to ride my “Burbage” route, which goes Oxford-Streatley-Burbage-Malmesbury-Lechlade-Oxford, for a total ride of about 206km.
After a bit of faffing on Sunday morning (I’d spent the previous afternoon riding about in the rain, marshalling at the Antelope 3-up TTT), I set off shortly after 8am, orange squash in my 900ml bottles and a malt loaf in my back pocket. It was quite pleasant out, not too warm, and I was trying to conserve as much energy as possible for later in the ride but the strong headwind all the way to the foot of Streatley Hill made this a tricky proposition. I really struggled up the hill in my bottom gear (34×25) – a sure sign that I was not very fit. This was only my sixth road ride since the end of November. The wind was a constant annoyance down and around the outskirts of Newbury and along the A4, where I saw the remnants of the Newbury RC club run coming the other way. The climb and headwind out of Hungerford reduced me to a crawl and it wasn’t until I’d “turned the corner” of this ride at Burbage that I my speed picked up with a bit of tailwind.
After climbing over the Marlborough downs and descending to Wootton Bassett, I was pondering stopping for a refill of my bottles (and I was starting to feel like I’d need a bit of respite from the pounding the bike was giving me), but I pressed on to Malmesbury at 125km, and a welcome petrol station. Although my legs were merely tired, my arms, hands and feet were aching badly and I was glad to stop in the sunshine for a sandwich and a drink, and text Jules to let her know how I was getting on.
Leaving Malmesbury the wind was more on my back, and I spun along the back roads of Ashton Keynes, over the A419 and through Lechlade to cross the flat lands of Bampton and climb over Boars Hill for the descent to Oxford. Very tired and sore at the end, clearly I have much work to do on my long-distance bike endurance if I want to capture another Super Randonneur series.
Cycled: 206km total in 8h00, inc. 13 minutes stopped at various temporary traffic lights + lunchstop.