Nomads Ride to Climping
Post London I set myself one final challenge for the year, to ride the New Forest 100… on both days. My first venture into riding centuries on consecutive days.
I had little time to train, as my focus had been on Ride London and the various speed-endurance sessions that dominated my summer. The plan was to cram in as many back-to-back sessions as my body could handle. So on this particular weekend in late August… it was the club run today… and a double spin class tomorrow.
Today was meant to be a normal club run, albeit further than usual, down to the seaside and then back again along the coast. Probably 70-80 miles, long enough to be a decent training ride, short enough to allow some recovery for tomorrow’s double bout of suffering.
It started with a ride down to Climping beach, which was fast and furious, partly because it was reasonably flat but mainly because Jason was driving the train… and the rest of us were just hanging on. The first proper ascent did not arrive until 40 miles in, at which point we were averaging 20 mph. The mile long ascent of Houghton Hill is steeper at the bottom but shallows somewhat to a reasonable 5% average as the climb unfolds.
The previous week I’d attacked early on a steep climb in attempt to catch Jason out. It worked… but only for a short while… it was also a long climb and the attack had left me in the red, he cruised passed and pulled away. So, my tactic today was to get onto his wheel and stay there… it was working while the gradient was in single figures, but as soon as it steepened to 15% I had to get out the saddle and inevitably slowed down… he just kept going at what seemed like the same pace… “bye bye Jason” I thought to myself as he disappeared into the distance… different scenario to last week… same outcome.
What goes up must come down… in this case a glorious two mile descent down the other side into Arundel on smooth dry tarmac, no tricky corners and only light traffic… exhilaration!
The coffee stop soon arrived, 50 miles ticked off in a shade over two and half hours. Time for a rest, a quick cuppa and a well deserved slice of cake. Having a coffee with your chums next to the beach is fun, but we had some riding to do, this time along the coast before heading inland and then home.
Jason decided to split early and take a different route home. “Phew” I thought (and I’m sure the others felt the same) maybe we can have a more sedate ride home now. Our route was interesting, a ride up a pedestrianised street, a detour through a park and a one point we had to dismount to carry our bikes across a pebbly beach. A kind of ‘don’t know where we’re going route’… club runs are never dull!
Things speeded up as we found the kind of surface we were more used to… in other words… roads. We got back in the swing of things, taking turns on the front while winding our way back towards our Ditchling HQ. As usual, as we got closer to home the group dwindled, with riders spinning off to their various different end destinations.
This left three of us as we neared the rides conclusion. I was as about three miles from home, which would have been a healthy 80 mile ride for me, but… “Hey Dave” Gary called out to me “Alex and me are going for a century, are you with us?”. My eyes would normally light up at this point and I’d reply with a resounding “Yes” before they’d finished their sentence. But I had to consider my plans for tomorrow, I also had to consider that I was busting for a pee (I was holding on until I got home).
“OK” I thought “I’ve got just enough gels left and I can always make tomorrow a single spin class… without feeling too guilty”. “Ok, this is the deal… we stop for a pee and then I’m in.” I’m easily persuaded.
We spent the next few miles calculating, comparing and then re-calculating our routes, finally deciding on a loop that would deliver all three of us home with the number 100 on our bike computers. After riding for another hour, Gary and Alex sped off on their homeward journeys to complete their centuries.
Despite all of those calculations, I found myself over four miles from home once I’d clinched my century. I’d run out of gels and fluids by this stage and found myself limping (or the cycling equivalent) through the last few miles, eventually arriving home mid-afternoon.
So, with century no.13 in the bag, my thoughts turned to tomorrow… how… just how was I going get back on my bike in the morning and ride down to the leisure centre?… and then how was going to get through that spin class?