Author Topic: The Dean 2018 (Beast From the East Edition)  (Read 349 times)

The Dean 2018 (Beast From the East Edition)
« on: April 23, 2020, 11:03:33 am »
Like many people I imagine, the bike has been of great comfort to me in recent weeks. I'm dreaming of future rides and reminiscing on past ones, while escaping the tragedies of today for a short period while riding.
It got me thinking about the craziest ride I've ever done. Below is something I wrote up for my cycling club after I completed it, I would love to hear from anyone else who rode that day or didn't and their memories of it. This was my first ever 300 also


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I tend to be an optimist.
Despite ample weather warnings and confirmation from the host of the event that he was no longer going to ride it due to snow warnings. My main thought was, how can it get so cold so quick? after having a lovely bike  ride to work in 12 degrees on Friday, I assumed we'd be fine the next day….

Peartree Services Station some time after 06:00
It started badly.
Audax's are always a bit tough, but what get's people through is normally the community spirit and the ability to draft the early kilometres. To take advantage of these elements though, you need to be at the start line on time. Me and Jez were not. Firstly we were late and then we went to the wrong location, now panicking and stressed we had actually missed the whole bloody thing, we were relieved when we went down one more turn and found two legends, freezing in the parking lot, handing out brevet cards. I should point out at this point that, somehow, I was unable to get the route on my Wahoo gps navigation device. Like I said,
it started badly.

Stow on Wold 45km 08:21 The first section was tough as we adjusted to the freezing cold  (-2 not including wind chill I believe) and then it dumped snow on us. Jez used this as an opportunity to question why I insist on checking multiple weather apps before settling on the most optimistic. Cold wet and off the back, things weren't looking good. Weather was so bad and we were so far from anyone that we soon began to think we were the only people out in this weather. However things perked up when we reached the first control and we saw other audaxers for the first time! We lost them again because I got a bacon bap, but at least we now knew we were not out here alone.

Newent 102km 10:44 Went quickly as we hit a groove and started to chat and pass people on the road. For anyone whose never done audax, it's hard to describe the awesomeness of this community feel. On this particular day only 26 people on this island of 65 million had decided to head out so I felt a connection with all of them. We hit the town of Newent where Jez got chocolate milk and I got a sausage roll and ribena and all was well in the world. It had stopped snowing and was a bright crisp winters day, a few audaxers outside a coop were saying “anyone who pulled out due to weather forecast is really missing out, this is glorious”, I agreed (how naive we were…) . Along this stretch we also heard of someone on the ride doing the audax who had forgotten bibshorts! So they were dealing with all the shit we were, but riding in jeans! 300km audax 3500m climbing, the beast from the east and Jeans! I bloody love audax people

Chepstow 151km 13:50 This was nicest part of the ride. Weather was cold but we were used to it and we had lovely quiet roads through the forest of Dean with some nice climbs. It was still very cold so climbs were useful to get a bit of heat going. Still by the time we hit the cafe in Chepstow i hadn't been able to feel my feet since the last control, as they had become numb with cold and wet. Being in a warm cafe was agony, as the feeling returned to my feet, and that feeling was pain! I changed my socks here to dry ones, with out which I don't believe I would of finished this ride. Like a bouncer at closing time, Jez had to cajole, persuade and all but carry me to get me out of the toasty warm cafe.

Malmesbury 201km 18:07 Coming out of Chepstow we had to cross the famous Severn bridge. Famous mainly for it's crosswind I believe, which proved a challenge for my deep rim wheels. I remember laughing manically at the positions and tilts on the bike as I did anything to stay upright. You know when you laugh at something that’s not funny at all because there’s nothing else left to do? The next section had some very nice quiet roads again and some nice climbs, also SO much easier when surrounded by other cyclists. We met Rob around here and some great chats about his TCR adventures. We were making good time until Malmesbury but thats where things changed. I got a puncture and had some issues when I reinflated the tyre so had to change it again. Unfortunately now both my hands and the tyre were extremely cold and I no longer had the necessary dexterity to complete the change. I was also now incredibly hungry. I wolfed down the remainder of Jez’s Chinese as he fixed my bike. The benefits of riding an audax with someone! Eventually Jez sorted it (thank you!) but not until we'd lost a lot of time, all our body heat and fallen behind main group of riders yet again.

Membury Services 256km 21:20  This section was horrendous. We left Malmesbury freezing cold and we never really warmed up. We had a big climb up a frozen mountain covered in snow and ice. When we got to the top we were rewarded with an awful descent down icy roads into cross headwind of heavy snow into the face. There was no good option here, slow down and you get even colder and know that you'll be on the roads for hours or speed up and get hit in the face forcefully with snow so it's difficult to keep eyes open and makes descent very risky as unable to see very far ahead (I went with option 2). At the end of the descent there was another climb. From here to the end of the route it was full on snow covered road. Seeing tyre tracks in the snow gave us hope as someone was not far in front of us. The footsteps in the snow made us feel for Tim, who was riding fixie, again someone dealing with all the shit I was but instead of being on a carbon frame w gears for days he’s on a fixie! (bloody love audaxers!). I was never so happy to walk into a service station as i was when I saw 3 audaxers sitting down inside.

Arrivee Oxford 00:39  Final stretch also horrendous but now at least there was 5 of us #audaxlyfe (me, Jez, Rob, Tim, can’t recall the other name). We left Membury and it was all slow going and silence into snowy headwind most of the way. Roads so bad the good news was there was almost no cars. Bad news was you couldn't go very fast at all. More bad news, water bottles froze solid so no water and my left cleet also froze so no clipping in for me. Tim on the fixie hit the front and drove us into the wild. My throat now started to get very sore, probably from gulping down artic wind and snow non stop. There was a little bit of chat though, which helped. Some strong recommendations to go see the movie The Shape of Water. This was good, as it made it seem more like a club ride and less like we were cycling to our death in Snowmageddon. At a certain point we hit a main road which was gritted. We gritted our teeth and grinded our way down it into an almighty snowy headwind. Shout out there again to Tim who was on the front for WAY too long on his fixie. He's more bike than man! I took a turn on the front and tried to "drive it along" at 22kph, I did this for maybe 20 minutes before flicking an elbow afraid I would fall off the back. Hours later we rocked into the service station finish line. It was glorious.




Re: The Dean 2018 (Beast From the East Edition)
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2020, 09:29:40 am »
Never been so glad to be on the ride leaders rota for my club. I couldn't audax that day,  but if I had entered I would have started as the forecast I checked showed all snow to be east of Oxford.

Eddington  96miles