Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ride Across Britain - Day 3

It's definitely easier to roll out of a bed than a sleeping bag in a tent. However, being up four flights of stairs made it a toss up in the end. The fair weather, which has lasted since we arrived ten days ago, had come a week too soon and was on the way out. But only a chance of showers was forecast in the ride area so I elected to dispense with the rain gear.

Today was the shortest day, only 99 miles to Ludlow race course. We descended into Bath, which was basking in the morning sun, and then climbed the hill on the other side of the town.

Bath wakes up to the sun

It was a tough climb out of Bath that early, and after a larger breakfast than I usually have before rides, but we eventually reached a plateau that ultimately descended to the Seven estuary. It was clear that we had left the sleepy south-west behind us; there was a lot of traffic heading to work, probably in the city of Bristol, and the roads really weren't suitable for drivers in a hurry and 500 bikes at the same time. Some of the drivers were clearly quite frustrated.

A big day for new counties; here we briefly enter Wiltshire.
Then a steady descent to cross the Severn estuary via the Severn suspension bridge. Not quite as impressive as the Golden Gate but in the same league.

Briefly, we enter Wales and hit the first rest stop in Chepstow, which has an impressive castle.

Then back into Gloucestershire, England and a climb up to the Forest of Dean. The weather is deteriorating and sure enough it soon starts raining. Nor does it look like a "shower", its pretty heavy and it looks to be set in for a while. I pull off to put on my vest but I'm ruing the decision to not bring the real rain gear. I get pretty darn wet pretty fast but bike gear is a bit like a wetsuit, so you don't get that cold, which is important. The worst thing is not having the waterproof shoe covers and my feet are swimming. At least I have two pairs of gloves so I can keep one pair reasonable dry.

The rain lasts about 20 minutes, which I suppose counts as a shower. Perhaps it's coincidence but I notice that my fenders are loose. The front is easy to fix but it turns out that the screw holding the rear fender to the frame at the brake has dropped out. I tighten everything as best I can but the rear fender is destined to bounce around requiring periodic re-tightening.

We enter Herefordshire and ride alongside the River Wye. This is a part of the UK that I have never visited before and I have to say that it is very picturesque indeed. We skirt the town of Hereford and then go off into the Green lanes again. One scary moment after rounding a bend to see the entire road covered in sand and mud. Fortunately I'm not going fast.

Finally back onto proper roads and the easy run into Ludlow. Through the town and a few miles on is the racecourse and the base camp. It's quite small but has a nice feel to it. The weather has dried out completely now but I decide it's time to get my fenders properly fixed as it surely is going to rain later in the week. I decide that a small zip tie will hold the rear fender just as well as the bolt did. I also switch the front and back stays fixing the initial assembly error at Lands End. One problem messing with bikes on grass is dropping a small part and sure enough I drop one of the stay bolts and spend about five minutes before finding it!

It's massage day again and also laundry day. There's a laundry service here and then every two days. You can get two jersey and two shorts washed, which means you only need carry three sets of kit. There is also an on-site drying tent and a lot of people do their own washing and dry it overnight.

The catering is being done by the same crew as we had at Lands End and it's just as good. Since I managed to find a seat close to the front I actually get to see the people involved in the briefing, for once. Tonight, Rebecca Romero, Olympic gold medalist in rowing and track cycling, regales us with the story of her attempt to break the LEJOG record non-stop on a tandem with Threshold co-founder James Cracknell. They didn't quite make it, but rode 50 hours before Rebecca's knee gave out. No doubt this challenge would impress some of my more extreme ultra-cycling friends, but the knee issue just reminded me that pushing yourself that hard is insane!

Elevation and Distance
Elevation and Distance

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