Oh arse biscuits indeed!
I arrived in Bethersden, put the bits back on the bike which I had taken off it so that I could get it into the car, reported for duty and then I got a text message. It was Charlotte, asking me to report her having packed. The 300ers had a real Ordeal in the night, and having the Blue moon ride fresh in my memory, I understood perfectly. So Billy No Mates set off in the steady rain wondering for how long I could put up with this.
It was not long before Fatbloke’s Prophesy came to be. “It’s tempting providence,” said he, stroking what for the want of trying might be an impressive beard, “to put the words ‘Fairies’ and ‘flat’ into a ride title. No good will come of it! You mark my words!” Well, when I suddenly felt that sickening lurch to the left as the rear tyre flops about on the rim, I did indeed mark his words and gave him 10/10. Go to the Top of the Class, Fatters!
I had been building up quite a nice time cushion as well, but with about 30 minutes wasted replacing the tube (the first few of those were spent wandering along the road looking for somewhere safe to work on the bike), I was not in the best frame of minds, and even a decided lifting of the cloud cover and the sun appearing did not cheer me up as much as you might have expected. For one thing, although I carry two spare tubes, it doesn’t help a lot when one of them is a 700C and my tyres are 26 x 1.5″. A second packet of arse biscuits please.
Mr. Micawber could well have ridden Audaxes. Average speed with stops: 15.5 kph, result: happiness. Average speed with stops: 14.5 kph, result: misery. So I continued to be miserable even though the countryside was beautiful, there wasn’t a hill worthy of the name, and I was being treated to the nicest weather we have had for about 3 weeks.
It really is amazing how long it takes to claw back a time deficit. My average riding speed was well over 18kph, and I knew that this was enough to get me round and allow me to eat in some comfort. But throw a few fairy bites into the equation and suddenly it’s not enough again. Add to that the need to socialise (I don’t do miserable anti-social git) and I’m really up against it. I stopped at the first control for a bacon butty, a cup of tea, a natter with the controller (who lent me a track pump) and to put a patch on the perforated tube; then again by the roadside where a very pleasant couple had given up their Sunday in order to mark cards and feed Audaxeers. So by the time I had completed the first 100k, I was still well behind.
Luckily, being the lanterne rouge came to my rescue as all the other controllers were getting pretty fed up by the time I got there, and were ready to pack their bags and go as soon as I did, so although I arrived a little late at Rye, by the time I got to Hythe I was, remarkably, 15 minutes ahead of where I needed to be. Another quick butty, visit the kharsi and off on the home straight in glorious weather: indeed, the sun was so bright that at times I had trouble seeing the road.
I arrived back at Bethersden at around 9 p.m. feeling really quite pleased with myself, as this is the first 200k that I have completed without some sort of hitch or other. But I could hardly walk. My knees had seized up again. They were no problem when I was pedalling, but they didn’t want to do anything else.
The worst bit came on the M20. “Think” said my imaginary sign, “don’t drive when excruciating knee pain prevents you from transferring your right foot from the accelerator to the brake”.
One hot bath later, in which I washed my hair with a concoction called “Beautiful Brunette”, I’m hoping that the knees won’t give me as much trouble as they did last week after my 100 miler.