Author Topic: Cambridge 200 routecheck 15/08/10  (Read 2496 times)

Cambridge 200 routecheck 15/08/10
« on: August 19, 2010, 10:18:09 am »
Having got permission from my better half to do LEL2013 in return for permission to do a half marathon next year, and a marathon the year after, I came up with a plan to try for an SR next year and to try to fit in some rides this year. I'd done a 200 in July, which was my first ride over 50km, and I'd finished it feeling good. This was partly because my commute is currently 28km each way, and partly because one of the other guys I was riding with was a fell runner who'd assumed that his fitness would get him round. We did JJ’s End of Hibernation route, and those that have done it will know the hill out of Sudbury. Unfortunately, said mate's knee went pop half way up it and we did the rest of the ride at about 15kph with regular stops for ibuprofen.

On the basis that I felt good at the end, I planned to do a 300 and advertise for company. Not knowing the area around Cambridge well, I asked for routes, and simonp generously shared one of his, as well as providing a step by step on how to get the best out of my newly acquired gps. However, my wife then gave me a pass for the Mildenhall 300. Simon suggested that instead of a DIY 300, I might like to accompany him on a route check of his new event instead; the Cambridge 200, starting in Hauxton. I popped the gpx file he supplied on the gps the night before and asked the gps to point me to the start.

Over breakfast, I looked at the gps and saw the start was less than 10km away. "I know where Hauxton is" I thought. Doddle. Extra round of tea and toast was consumed and I set off with a safe 25 mins to get there. Except, I'd forgotten that the distance is as the crow flies, and the road between my village and Hauxton is anything but direct. I should say, the road between my village and where I thought Hauxton was. Lungs flapping, I was flying up the A10 with a minute or two to spare and turned right into Hauxton, only to realise the place I thought was Hauxton was just part of Harston. Bugger. Looking at the gps, I realised there was no cut through and had to head back to the A10 and further along, scanning for a turn that would take me to Hauxton. Quickly, I found it, and raced through the village scanning for signs for a village hall. Someone in a Mille Cymru top waved me down and I made it only a few minutes late, which graciously, Simon didn't mention.

After confessing my lack of local knowledge, we quickly set off in a easterly north westerly direction along roads I'd seen but not travelled up, through a quick succession of pretty villages and into Bedfordshire and on through St Neots, which was very quiet. We soon stopped at Olney to refuel. On top of the 4 slices of toast, two and a quarter litres of energy drink I'd already consumed, I managed to fit in an onion bhaji and mango panini, a packet of crisps, a bottle of water, a pint of malteser milkshake, and a malteser tiffin (no dried fruit  :thumbsup:). Water bottles topped up, we set off again.

By this point, I am a stranger in an uncharted land, with the choice of an unmastered gps or an improbably narrow rack to guide me. I chose to safeguard my calories, powered down the navigation subsystem of my brain, and halfwheeled Simon. More pretty villages followed, joined up by suitably empty roads. However, those who know the area will be aware that there are some ugly A roads to avoid. There were a couple of sections where you could see the join where Simon had stitched together pretty sections with bits needed to skip over what are motorways in all but name, and unfortunately, these relatively exposed sections coincided with facing a headwind straight on. However, these didn't bother me as the roads were empty, Simon was still able to dredge up audax stories full of schadenfruede, and I was out on a long ride; considerably (understatement) more novel for me than him.

We soon found ourselves in Northamptonshire, stopping in Oundle. It reminded me of Lewes and was very pretty. Another cafe was visited, and despite still feeling full, I decided I better take on fuel. I'd run out of drink about 20km before and was feeling a bit odd. I decided to go for a brie and cranberry toastie, a packet of ready salted crisps, and a pint of vanilla milkshake. However, when I got to the counter, I couldn't make the coins add up. The friendly girl at the counter, perhaps out of pity after Simon's explanation of the day’s distance, added up my pile of coins for me. However, it wasn't me who received the offer of free extra cream on my milkshake.

After some time we started heading back to Cambridgeshire. Despite my inability to make sense of change, I was in a great mood, and as the sun got lower, bright yellow fields of stubble contrasting with deep green hedgerows looked ridiculously pretty. I suspect my memory of this section is coloured by the fantastic tailwind we now had, and our speed rose. In no time at all we found ourselves in St Ives. I was still stuffed from the last two stops, and only managed to force down an apple pie that had been drowned in at least half a pint of custard. Simon failed to complete his knickerbocker glory.

The final spin back to Hauxton was in fading light, and I was surprised to find that I preferred the greenish light from Simon's Edelux to my twin Ixon IQs. Among the array of lovely bits of kit on Simon's Yukon, that was the one that stood out for me. Very nice. A sprint back through roads I am familiar with had us back in Hauxton. I didn't bother keeping a track for just the route, but I think it came in at around 210km, and we did it in somewhere around 123 hours (if I’ve clicked on the right bits of the tracklog). A brilliant day out, and excellent company from simonp. Much appreciated.