Monday, 1 March 2010

Audax: Kennett Valley 100

I did another audax ride on the Nomad at the weekend. This time it was the Kennett Valley 100 in Berkshire, organised by Reading CC.

Everybody's looking forward to a February day out in the rain...

This is a very popular winter event and there were around 60 riders on the 100 km event and I'd imagine a good number on the 200 km as well, although they'd already left by the time I rolled up to the village hall in Grazeley.

Rain showers were expected throughout the day, but it was quite bright just before we set off and there was some debate about whether to wear rain jackets. I decided not to wear mine to start with, hoping to avoid the boil-in-the-bag effect for as long as possible. Of course, after all of 15 minutes it was raining and I was stopped at the roadside putting on my jacket! Within 30 minutes the rain was lashing down and jacket or no jacket everybody would be soggy for the rest of the day.

The first leg out to Hungerford was pretty wet and horrible actually, but I was taking it easy today and spent time happily chatting to fellow riders on the road, including a couple on a Thorn tandem with a Rohloff hub! Approaching Kintbury, I teamed up with Chris and we rode the rest of the day together. (I'll call him Chris, but it could have been Mark! I'm best described as 'disappointing' for remembering names. I've tried word association to help me out but I seem to forget the associations I've made just as effectively! Chris is the chap on the right of the picture above and in the foreground of the picture below).

Chris (or maybe Mark) in his 'tasteful' Marmite cycling jacket

The rain had mostly stopped by the time we reached the halfway point at the Tutti Pole cafe in Hungerford. Beans on toast (of course) and cake and tea was ordered and swiftly dispatched to my stomach. Chris's missus had driven out to meet him, so I chatted to them both for quite a while, hoping to dry out a bit at the same time. Unfortunately that didn't work at all and it felt decidedly chilly setting off after the warmth of the cafe.

The route back via the "Berkshire Alps" was hillier though, so we soon reverted back to our warm and damp state. The scenery was very nice, especially around Boxford and Winterbourne, with snow drops in abundance brightening the otherwise dreary day. After navigating through Theale, we were on the last leg back to Grazeley, drying out now, but with a mildly irritating headwind for company!

A good leisurely paced ride for me today, 130 km in total and not spoilt too much by the weather. You can't expect anything better at this time of year in the UK. There were even some polite 4x4 drivers about. Whatever next. Thanks to Chris/Mark for the road chat and good luck with your Super Randonneur aspirations. Thanks also to the event organisers.

I managed to pick up my first puncture on the Nomad after 2600 km although luckily the tyre didn't go flat until the following day!

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