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My First 200

“Why on earth are you doing that?” is one of the most common responses when asked about my weekend plans. Normally, I explain to my non-cycling friends that a bike ride is a lovely opportunity for some exercise, chitter-chatter and a fat slice of cake.

However, this time, my answer was “I’m not really sure, I planned it a long time ago and didn’t expect it to creep up so fast.” After many hours watching GCN videos and looking for more opportunities to win Waldy Challenge bonus points, I felt a 200km ride was an essential on my to do list.

I’d calculated that at an average of 24kph, I’d be spending around 9 hours in the saddle. I knew it’d be tough, but the potential for a coveted Waldy bidon meant it was worth the hardship.

I put out a message on a WhatsApp group and got a surprising response. My friends were ready for the challenge!

I had previously done a 100km audax called the ‘Flat Fairy’ in Kent – the essential word here being ‘flat’. I knew the route was brilliant – quiet roads, beautiful little villages and considerate drivers. I found the 200km version of it and routed it to start in Rye.

We travelled down on the Friday evening and stayed in The Great Escape, a B&B of farm style cabins just 2 miles from the town centre. We spent our pub dinner deep in conversation about how many gels we should eat, trying to calculate at what point they would induce terrible stomach problems. Before we knew it, it was time for bed.

Saturday morning and we were up at 6am, eating breakfast and packing our jerseys with all the snacks we could. We set off at 7am and weaved our way through the beautiful Kent countryside. We flew by the picturesque Oast Houses, marvelling at their turreted roofs and the flawless scenery.

Three hours in and the banter, mostly directed at my strict itinerary, started to die down. The rain set in. It was pouring and we got our first puncture. We still had another five hours to go. Death by monotony was setting in.

Relief came an hour and a half later when we stopped in Ashtead for a bite to eat at the King’s Head. Unfortunately, I soon found out that there are two King’s Heads in two towns called Ashstead – and naturally, I’d booked the wrong one.

Despite this, there was plenty of space so we piled our plates high. We’d barely digested our food and it was time to go again.

The next few hours dragged on and 150km in, we’d made it to Dungeness Lighthouse. A kind soul took a photo that made us all look very thin. Then we refuelled with Mars bars, ice creams and an impromptu stretching session in the car park.

Then, the final stretch. The peloton took on a new life as we took turns leading the group out. The end was in sight and we could feel a quiet exhilaration in our souls as we knew we’d all make it.

Another hour and a half later and the B&B was in sight. We were just 300 metres from the end. I exhaled in relief. Between 7 of us, we’d covered over 1,400km. I had known there was a strong chance one of us would have an accident. I was just relieved we’d completed it safely.

We started to celebrate and shouted ‘allez, allez!’ as one of the men zoomed ahead with all the flare of Julian Alaphillipe. Five seconds later and he was in a ditch. I should have been sympathetic, but it was too funny. We had made it. Not quite in one piece, but pretty much.

We parked up our bikes and helped our victim clean his wound with the well-known sanitiser of backwashed water and hydro tab residue.

Thanks to my careful itinerary and strict timekeeping (not that I’m making a point, at all), we had an hour for showers then headed straight to the pub which was ideally located all of 20 metres from our rooms. Perfect.

So the big question, would I do it again? I loved it, but I feel like the box has now been ticked and it’s time for a new challenge. Preferably one that leaves more time for cake stops.

Strava ride here

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1 comentário

Andy Green
Andy Green
15 de jul. de 2021

Chapeau! Great story.

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