You might want to read Part One before you read this!
After making the wrong decision over which bed to sleep in, I reverted to the sensible option and chose my wife’s comfy king sized double. I figured that as I was so tired, she would not disturb me when she got in… I was right… the best night’s sleep in ages and I was fresh and raring to go come Sunday morning.
I also decided not to go to the HQ and waste another couple of hours queueing. That would mean, no official time, no medal and no t-shirt… all things that I could do without. “Does my t-shirt drawer really need another t-shirt?” I joked to myself. I kept yesterday’s number of my bike, so at least I could still get an official photo.
I drove to a village called Hurn, the nearest part of the course to where we were staying, about ten miles into the course. I still had the route on my Garmin and of course the signage would still be out.
I readied myself quite quickly today, eager to commence part two of my ‘sufferfest’. I was lucky enough to jump on the back of a group almost straight away, but this splintered at the first rise and I followed the fastest wheel, leaving just the two of us.
We chatted for a while, my co-rider was from South Africa, although he’d been living in London more recently. Once we’d established our aims for the day, we decided to work together. This didn’t last long however. We were passed by a slightly faster group, which we both latched onto but the pace was too hot for me… yesterday it may have been OK, but I needed to be realistic and waved my new friend goodbye.
There were other groups of course, but the pace was bit too sedate for my liking, so these were caught and passed as the miles were gradually ticked off.
These were the last groups I saw for a while. It felt a bit like yesterday where I was soloing for a large chunk of the ride, albeit under different circumstances. The site of yesterday’s mechanical came and went, and I grinned at today’s improved fortune.
A feed station, around half way, provided me with a dilemma. I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to use it, but did I really want to loose momentum by slowing down for a tight u-turn? The alternative was to skip the out and back section and turn right at a T-junction. I chose the latter, confusing a couple of riders… “It’s left here!” they shouted. I did reply, but I don’t think they heard me. I would, of course, need to tag some mileage on at the end to complete my double century.
The last feed station of the day (22 miles from the finish, but 32 or so for me) was the only one I stopped at. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t usually stop at feed stations, but I could still taste those jelly beans I’d picked up yesterday… it was just too damn tempting. I pulled in, grabbed a couple of handfuls, filled up one of my pockets and I was on my way… a nice treat for later in the ride.
The wind direction had changed today, so luckily for me that headwind on the climb up to the moors was no longer there. However, after taking that 90 degree turn at the top…there it was… stronger than yesterday… and head on! As I was preparing for an epic battle on the exposed moor, a couple of riders came passed me “thank you very much” I thought to myself, as I latched on to the cover they were inadvertently providing. As soon as we were down the other side of the moor, I passed them with one other rider and the pair of us pushed on, working together.
Wind aside, we had been blessed with quite good weather over the weekend. But nature always has something to throw at you when you’re least expecting it… today it was a torrential downpour. Initially it was quite refreshing, but my thin layer of lycra was not the best defence for this deluge… I was starting to get soaked. A sensible option would have been to pull over and slip my showerproof on, but I didn’t want to lose momentum this close to the finish. Fortunately, the shower only lasted 20 minutes or so. Even though I was soaked, I wasn’t cold and the sunshine that followed soon dried me off again.
By this time my riding companion was approaching the driveway up to Somerley House and the finish line. I explained my alternate plan, we wished each other luck and went our separate ways.
I was now on the last leg of my adventure, soloing the last 10 miles back to my car plus a few miles to tag on to make the century… now, where are those jelly beans?
Pretty soon I found myself passing my car and after some quick maths I rode out for another mile or so, did a u-turn and rode the same distance back… and that was it. My ‘moving’ time was only nine minutes slower than yesterday, but more importantly I had just completed my first double 🙂
Reflecting on the past two days, all in all it had been a fantastic weekend. I had been dogged with bad luck on Saturday, but the stunning scenery and wildlife more than made up for it… the famous New Forest wild horses, roaming cattle and sheep… I even saw a large pig grunting on the roadside… glorious memories of a truly memorable weekend.
Of the 3,500 riders who completed one of the routes on one of the days only 27 rode on both days. Of those 27 only 10 completed the 100 mile course on both days. Of those 10, only one rider covered the 200 miles in less than twelve hours… which just goes to prove that white beards are more aero than any other colour!