Thursday, (half a slice) an early start with a drive to Stokenchurch where we left the van. Myself, Farmer and Paul set off to ride to Frome. Nice steady ride, a few stops and some 85 miles to our digs. Friday (the second half of a slice ), a leisurely breakfast and a steady ride, only 65 miles to do. The route passed our digs which was booked for the Saturday night and we stopped for coffee and cake and leave our excess luggage there,. Then a short 12 miles ride for a pub feast before the start.
Now for the filling of the sandwich, a lumpy 400k with 3800 metres of climbing- start time 10.30 pm. The start, fairly fast and furious with a rider crashing after 10 miles, his head covered in blood, lights and bikes all over the place, ambulance called, he seemed to be ok so most of us carried on leaving a few behind with him to wait for the ambulance to arrive. Apparently he was ok, but we never heard the full story.
The night went on, and it became pretty chilly, peaceful and eerie, especially through the Somerset Levels. By this time we had been joined by a chap called Steve out of the Sudbury CC, our pace seemed to suit him. We all suffered a bit through the night but by about 4.30am we saw a mirage, a 24 hour McDonalds! Coffee! The other 3 participating in Big Macs, I had to give it a miss as my stomach had been playing up all night, due to the fish and chips I had eaten in the Pub. Then the sun was up and things were looking better. The ride continued with each in turn going pop at different times.
Fantastic scenery, Glastonbury, Frome twice, Bath, the Severn Bridge, and even a chance for the odd silly picture. IN contrast to the night the day temperature was extremely high, which saw all suffering from the heat. That evening Farmer had arranged to have a meal at our digs with some friends at about 7.30 pm which as you may recall was some 12 miles after the finish. Anyway time was getting on, lots of stops to eat, recover, and hydrate. The last stop a Costa which was just about to close. Time about 5.25pm still 50K to go not looking to promising to get back to the finish much before 10pm, certainly by the way we had all been going. The coffe break worked, we left just after 6pm at a great pace, a bit of through and off, some going through then some going off. A beautiful Somerset summer evening. A nice climb at the end of about 280 metres to the finish at 9 pm.
A beer, a chat about the ride with a few others, and something to eat and we left at 10pm in the dark for another 12 mile slice to ride to our digs where Farmer’s friends had been enjoying their meal without our company. I had asked Farmer a few times to ring the pub/digs to inform them that we would be late. Farmer had texted his friend, Colin to tell the Publican, so of course everything would be fine. We arrived at the digs, and surprise surprise it was all locked up, our bags on the inside, us on the outside. Paul had decided to sit on the bench. I had a quick look around to see if I could find a way in and luckily one door was open to a room with 2 beds, saved, well I’m alright anyway. A look around the inside to see if I could find our bags and the other room that was booked. Assuming that the one I had bagged was ours, that is. Luckily I found an emergency contact number, which Farmer then phoned. A while later a chap from upstairs appeared so bags and rooms all sorted, just no beer. So shower, a cup of tea, a biscuit and bed. I could bore you with a tale about my dream but I won’t. But that was the best bed I have ever slept in.
Now for the(3rd Slice) – Up and breakfast, a fine breakfast it was too! We decided to ride in two hits back to van. It might have been one, depending on how we felt. No more said, booked the same digs in Frome and rde back there, that made only 65 miles to do, slow and steady. Colin, who we should have had dinner with, rode over that the morning to see us, then over to his house not far away for tea and cake and a chat. Very pleasant. Then to Frome. Paul decided to catch a train home en route leaving me and Farmer to ride to the pub where a few too many beers were consumed, we do that so well.
The last Slice – 85 miles back to the van. An extremely hot day saw us, or me especially plodding along with lots of stops. One of Farmer’s other friends met us for a glorious canalside lunch stop then showed us the way to Hungerford. An extremely hot but pretty ride across Berkshire and Oxfordshire followed to get to the van, a glorious site. No idea on actual mileage but that’s close enough for me. Anyone wishing to have a go at a 400k, it’s a tough one, but a great one.
Thanks to Paul and Farmer for the company.