lunes, 14 de febrero de 2011

200 Redhill beach trip - English

[If you want to read about this experience in Spanish you should go to this page]

The best was the weather.

Weather forecast was saying that it was going to rain on Saturday.

Not a single drop fell. We even enjoyed the sun for the kilometers we rode close to the coast.

But to be really honest the best of the day was Pete.

Pete Mas is a Wheeler. And so I am. We cyber-met thanks to the magic of the internet forums and and we met in person a few minutes before the start. I guess it was not difficult for him to recognize me as I was wearing a wheeler maillot with the only purpose of being recognized by him.

It was my first brevet in England and very soon it was obvious that I was not really prepared for the navigation and questioning component of the race. It was only thanks to Pete that I answered correctly all the questions and finished the race.

In my defense I have to say that none of the brevets I have participated in Spain had questions to be answered and the navigation instructions, the route sheet, was much more simpler than four pages like this one:

Instructions like: SOX sp Newdigate, R no sp (Cole's Lane), L @ T no sp or my favorite R (@2nd grn tri) sp Ardingly, Tumers Hill; without any distance indication were far too complicated for me. There is no way I was going to make it through the route and answer questions as important as: What is the time of Saturday collection at the red post box on Weare Street at Venn Lane Road? ( I could try to google it but I guess that's not allowed by the rules) without help..

I told Pete, "If you don't mind I'll follow you all the route". He said nothing so I assumed it was yes and I'm thankful for that.

The firsts kilometers we rode very easily while talking about our cyclist experiences and how came that a Spaniard was riding a brevet in England and very quickly we arrived to the first point where we learned the mail was collected at 9:15 in the morning on Saturdays on Weare Streat at Venn Lane Road. First question answered, which, in a way, was a relief.

The area was very nice. Without cars, flat, easy to ride and also easy to get lost. For a couple of times we missed a turn because Pete was distracted with my conversation. At a certain moment I realized that ride required constant concentration on the route sheet so I did something clever. Shut up and pedal.

Very soon we arrived to the Wiston Tea Room, where the first manned control was. 

When Pete told the man I was from Spain he started to tell me about his vacations in Spain last year, cycling from Santander to Denia in July. "Hot", he said. "You bet" I thought trying to imagine him riding in the Spanish meseta in July. The conversation was interesting but not the call of a hot breakfast was stronger and I had no option but cutting it short, scrambled, toasts and a hot chocolate were waiting for me.

The next stage was Wiston - Westmeson, 25 km away from the tea room, and where we learned the interesting fact that at the post box opposite the church of Westmeson on Saturdays the post is collected at 7:30 am!!!! Spanish postmen should learn from this fact!

About 10 meters away from the church Pete had a puncture in his rear wheel. Surprisingly, come on, we just met, we were very efficient solving the incident. In a few minutes we were on the road again.

We were approaching the coast and the sun and the winter appeared at the same time. I welcome the sun and suffered in silence the winter.

For some kilometers we rode alongside a beach. No sand but pebbles, but hey! you have rode 100km and you are by the sea, those cliffs looks really beautiful, don't complain if the beach has no sand. Sadly I'm a terrible photographer (and the picture was taken while riding) and you can't appreciate the beauty of the white cliffs, you'll have to believe me.

At this point we had arrive to the hilly part of the route. A first 500m climb with a 14% steep was second by another one with 16% and another 500m and soon after that a third one with climb a bit longer than a kilometer with a strong wind.

The good news were that at the top of this third climb there was a pub and in that pub a control. 122km in the route, 15:18, we are hungry, where's that pasta salad I was carrying all day?

When we started to ride again I was really cold. The wind was blowing strongly, the road had lots of cars and we were riding very fast (we were descending the three climb we just had done). The good outcome of that speed is the 17km until the next question went very fast. We learned that in Litlington the post is collected at 4:00 pm from Monday to Friday, you never know when your are going to need this information.

24km later we were arriving Uckfield where the instructions were "Unmanned. Cotrol anywere. Obtain and keep a proof of control that shows location and date/time. For example, ATM slip, shop receipt such as Tesco or Co-Op, café till receipt etc.". We went for the Co-Op receipt. Pete bought a sandwich and I bought a pack of energy bars. Eating what we just had bought we realized if was dark. Time to put on the lights and wear the reflective jackets.

Riding in the night in the country side is a challenging experience. You realize that there are not street lights and because there was no moon everything was really dark. In these conditions, following the instruction "R (@2nd grn tri) sp Ardingly, Tumers Hill", translated by Pete as "Right at the second green triangle, sign post to Ardingly, Tumers Hill" was not that easy. Where is the green triangle? Is that one the first one and we are no there yet? or the third one and we miss the second one?. Conclusion I need better lights in my bike and a helmet torch is a must in these rides. 

Ardingly was important because there we found out the number of the public phone next to the general store ended in 311 but more important because there we met Phil.

Phil is a rider with an excellent German dynamo hub and a magnificent German light. There was no doubt we were better of following him in the dark. And that's what we did for the last 24km. 

We arrived to our destination, a pub in Redhill at 20:21, just when I was starting to feel the cold of the night that was freezing. At the final control they gave us a pound that was used to buy our well deserved drinks. Pete went for a pint of beer I had the excuse that I had to drive and I went for a J2O (if I drink a pint after such effort I'm sure I would have ended up singing loudly Asturias Patria Querida).

The good ones:
  • The weather, did I mention that we had no rain and we even saw the sun?
  • How well I controlled my efforts. Easy, relaxed, no room for effort waste.
  • Pete, the guide, the man that knew what "L @ X sp NCR 21" meant.

The bad ones:

  • The route sheet and my inability to read it.
  • The lights I was using in the bicycle.
  • The Nexus One I was using to record the track. Run out of battery in an undetermined point of the route.

The numbers:
  • Kilometers: 214.88
  • Total time: 11:51
  • Time cycling: 9:44:45
  • Time stopped: 2:6:15
  • Average speed: 22.00 km/h
  • Max speed: 53.00 km/h
  • Average heart rate: 116ppm
  • Maximum heart rate: 162ppm (a push to catch up with Pete after a stop to pee, the rest of the route I was always below 145)
  • Consumed calories: 5,236
  • My bike has 3,583 kilometers
  • This is the 31st time I ride a road bike in my life
To make sense of all this madness I have donated 22 pounds to Cancer Research UK at my JustGiving page: 

Take care or yourself
Javier Arias González

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