martes, 5 de abril de 2011

300 3Down - English

[Esta es la versión en inglés de mi crónica del 300 de 3Down. La versión en castellano esta en esta página]

Yes, I was in Madrid for most of the week, and when I travel to Madrid I don't get much sleep.

The alarme clock went on at 3:15 AM!!!!!

Didn't need anyone to tell me, I knew this is something crazy.

4:15am I show by Pete's and he goes by "good morning". I guess the English sense of humor I still don't get.

6:00am The ride starts. We are 71 riders. It's dark night out there.

The one with the mille cymru maillot is Pete

But nothing to worry about. I have brand new lighting system in my bicycle and it works beautifully.

It works beautifully until I rode through one of the million holes that you can find in these roads. My back light jumps off the bicycle and I don't realize until other cyclists warn me a few meters later.

Stop, go back, and look for the cover of the back light. Well, I not only managed to find the cover but also a battery that I was missing. Lucky me, the light was still working when I mounted it back.

At the very beginning we ride in groups of 8 or 10 cyclists. Pete takes the opportunity to introduce me everyone he knows, and he knows everyone. Which means that I won't remember all names; I do remember though Judie, although not sure if this is the right spelling, the woman that has more 1200K rides. Truly impressive!!

50K. We are entering a small village. I drive through another whole; this is a small one, but big enough to make my Nexus One commit suicide. It is a pity because I was recording the route with that phone; one more brevet without track...

It just happened the village we were entering was were the first control was. We had to get a sticker from the LouLou LaBelle café. At this café I see a cyclist wearing a Google's maillot. I introduce myself asking him where did he got the maillot and found out that not only he works for Google aswel but also we have had some contact by mail. It's Jonathan.

It's 8 in the morning and we decided that despite of the cafe's suggestive name it is too early to stop.

Next control is in K120. Who cares? we ride 70 kilometers as if they were only 7.

It was 70 kilometers in an amazing landscape with lots of English cottages.

Pete suggested to stop to get pictures of the cottages but I decide to went for the strategy of the lazy ones and I just downloaded this picture from this blog

70 kilometers noticing every single post box on the road and wondering at what time the post is collected every day (if you don't get this one is because you first have to read this).

121.8 We are at the Kimbridge Farm Shop.


To prove that we were there we have to get a receipt, so I end up buying chips and a bottle of water. It's 11:40 in the morning and I don't know if it is the 120km I had in my legs, or because I had my breakfast at 3:30am, but I'm hungry. Chips and a bottle of water is not going to be enough so I get the pasta salad I have in my bags and I ate half of it. 

When we decide to move on I realized that Jonathan is riding a tamdem with Emma.


It is really amazing to observe them. They cadence pedaling is quite high. They get up on the bicycle totally synchronized and they don't hesitate in the turns (you will understand why this looked amazing for me later on). When they are climbing they go slower than us, but when they ride on a flat road they are really fast. You will find Jonathan's report of this ride here.

In one of the climbs we left them behind and we entered the moment that marked my lowest point in the route. We were at New Forest national park. The area is really beautiful it was an up-and-down road fully exposed to a front wind. Only 25 kilometers but I noticed their effect.

In fact I noticed the effect so much that I posted in my Google Buzz "149k all right so far. But I'm starting to feel tired after this section with front wind". It's not clear for my why, but I decided that was my lowest moment of the day and, as in this control we had to get a receipt from a garage, I decide to buy a Kinder Bueno in the little shop near by. Lets experiment the miracle of sugar in your body...

We started to ride again and I really could tell the wind was now blowing in our favor. We were riding faster than 30km/h without much effort. We were like professionals!!!

Almost without time to notice it we arrive to the next control. 160Km. Why this control was so close to the previous one is a mystery to me. The point is this time there was not receipt to be got, we just needed to take note of a pub's name in the road in the middle of nowhere. It was the Red Shoot. Strange name for a pub but we took note and went on the route.

We passed a cyclist. Pete told me his name, but I don't remember it. Pete also told me about the routes he had ridden and/or the routes he had planned to ride, but I don't remember those either. In any case I liked his bicycle, the bag and his maillot; somehow I found it representative of the typical Randonneur so here goes his picture.


At a certain point Pete says "I need a sandwich" and I answer "Next control is in x kilometers, lets stop over there" (being x a number that I don't remember but between 0 and 10).

We keep going.

Here comes a steep slope, nothing really serious, Pete lags a bit. 

Here comes another steep slope, this one a bit steeper, a bit longer. Pete stops and says "will see you at the top". I wait for him at the top and not even a minute later he arrives. He said he had to eat an energy bar. We are at one of those moments where the wise thing to do is to stop and eat as soon as possible...

Luckily next control was really close. We had to take note of what was on top of a memorial (a cross and puppies). We sat to eat and I ate the second half of my pasta salad. We have rode 200km, I take the opportunity to take a picture of my bicycle, she deserves it!


Looking at the picture I realize we were sitting next to a post office. I don't have any clue about the time they collect the post...

Once you have eaten the world has a different color. We went on our bicycles again and in only 17km we were arriving to the next control (did I mention I didn't know why the controls were so close?). We had to get a receipt from the local Tesco Expres. I bought a juice and a bottle of water. I took the opportunity to stretch and to take pictures of the cyclists, even if I'm a terrible photographer they are always the best of the report.


While we were siting resting we speculated about the time we will finish the ride. We were three hours before the closure of the control. The latest we can finish is at 2:00am so if we keep the margin we have so far we should be finishing by 23:00. Seems like a good plan to me. We decided to move on and at that precise moment I saw Jonathan and Emma again on their tamdem.

272K. Next control. Get a receipt from Sainsbury's. Come on! enough buying for today... I don't know what to buy, I have with me everything I need! It took me a while to decide but in the end I bought a banana, a pear and a cake. Nice balance, a bit of healthy a bit of indulgence.

It's 19:51 and it's dark already; we turn on our lights and get moving.

So far the navigation was not that bad. We skipped a turn somewhere between k160 and k200 but we returned to the route relatively quickly. But now we are in the night and I guiding. First three turns, we take them right. Fourth turn ("Bear L onto Hungerford La") I missed it. When I realized we are out of the route it was around a kilometer later.

Going back. Taking the correct turn and missing the next one ("1stL$WestEnd") was the easiest way of getting lost again. It took me more than 2 kilometers to realize we were out of the route.

Go back, take the turn you should had taken!

Don't get it wrong. I learnt to interpreter the instructions. The point is I forget to follow them. Yes, I know. It's silly, but when I read the instruction: in 2.2 kilometers "Fork L imm before Railway Br into Approach Rd". I understand what I have to do. What happens is that 100 meters later I just forgot when we were supposed to turn and to where. I'm not used to remember that kind of information while I'm riding. I trained myself to don't think about the route, to get distracted with everything, a conversation, a scenery or my own thought,s so it shouldn't come as a surprise that ultimately I forget everything about the turn.

What happened? Well I missed the turn by a third time in less than 17km. That was the moment when Pete proved he is a patient guy and when I, that always considered that I have a pretty good sense of orientation, had my pride wounded.

Thankfully Phil appeared. Phils is the protagonist of our last kilometers in our Redhill 200. Phil has a GPS in his bicycle and takes all turn with total confidence, just as Jonathan and Emma do. We mentioned it was funny that he was going to guide us again for the last kilometers and we, obviously, took his wheel and follow him until the end of the route.

At the final stop they had set up a cafe, I had a glass of milk with a piece of cake and we sat around a table with other cyclists. I enjoyed the conversation about past and future routes and Paris-Brest-Paris. I felt great, I enjoyed the moment after a day riding.



The best:
  • The weather. Perfect if you forget about those kilometers with wind on the face.
  • The scenery. Beautiful.
  • Pete. For his patience.
The worst:
  • Me following the route sheet.
  • That I forgot the turns.
  • How easy I managed to get lost.
The route in numbers:
  • Kilometers: 316.93 (10 km more than the official route I guess you can imagine why)
  • Total time: 16h 15 m
  • Time riding: 13h 49m 32s
  • Time stopped: 2h 25m 28s
  • Average speed: 22.80 km/h
  • Max speed: 63.70 km/h
  • Average heartbeats: 120ppm
  • Max heartbeats: 208ppm (this should be a measurement error)
  • Calories burned: 7.951calories
  • My bicycle has now: 4.307km
  • This is the 35th time I ride a road bike in my life
Yes, I know, this is crazy; but to try to make sense of all this madness I have donated 32 pounds to Cancer Research UK at my JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/Javier-Paris-Brest-Paris

Update 8/4/2011
Pictures from some of the participants can be found here.



Take care
Javier Arias González
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