I’d done this New Forest ride before, but it was new to DC and Disco. It was also to be our first 80mile+ ride of the year so far – an uncomfortable fact with Nustu’s logistics indicating some very big miles in the Pyrenees this summer…
Early rising all round led to the inevitable very late arrival and the B=boys finding themselves almost exactly last as we rolled out from the Wiggle camp in Brockenhurst. Dixon, having arrived early, had spent his time damaging his bike in an attempt to improve it and had watched as the steady stream of road cyclists slowly dwindled prior to our arrival.
After an initial bit of Lost (merci, Monsieur Garmin) where it was felt that the day was to be doomed, we found our route and our legs and set off at a pace that would have been too hot for 50 miles on the Surrey Hills; Dixon’s exhortations to ‘relax!’ falling on wind-deafened ears. Once we’d got our pace sorted, we settled into the miles with ill-concealed joy. It’s a very fine thing riding with these boys.
We knew that to complete the route in a ‘gold’ time we’d need to stay above an 18mph average, and we’d need to finish before 4hrs 45mins for the 86 miles. This felt doable on the rolling course – a few draggy climbs to tap out and one or two steep punchy slopes, but nothing taxing. The going was fast, hampered by long stretches across blasted heath with magic always-headwinds, but mostly beautiful twisty single-lane tarmac through villages and woods, avoiding ponies, cattle and pigs; noses assaulted by the smell of them, then cut grass, rape-seed honey pollen. It is a lovely course.
All this before the first feed stop for the loading of calories. Wiggle did a good job in this important regard – there was all sorts to eat, so we did. Realising we’d spent almost 15 minutes at the rest stop, hammers were put down, including one notable stretch where DC did a huge turn on the front, pulling Disco and me for a good 15 miles. Another notable incident saw Disco being squeezed almost off the road by some doofus with a caravan and no depth perception. Lowell was so shocked he didn’t even have the chance to deliver the appropriate abuse.
We passed the second feed stop to keep our average speed up, but as we neared the 75 mile mark, for two of the brave B-boys the ghastly shadow of The Bonk fell across the road, hovering on tattered wings. It nearly claimed our medal, but like George with his lance of gold, we were victorious and The Bonk fell, defeated. Ten minutes under time, average speed 20mph, we arrived at the finish line and staggered into the gymnasium for tea and a massage. A thorough treat.