Well, that was a great day out. Set off on the first 50k leg of my ECE to Alfreton at 6:30, 5 minutes later I stopped to put on full finger gloves for the first time at this end of the year. It did was me up nicely though after a late night back from Birmingham after attending a Tony Harrison poetry reading. It was a bit nippy, but the sunlight was creeping through as I left Nottingham and the descent down Spring lane to Lambley had a lovely pink hue and mist hanging around in the fields. An uninspiring blast along the A612 to Thurgarton and back got the first control point. And then coming up through Calverton, Ravenshead and Kirkby-in-Ashfield saw me getting to Alfreton about for about 8:30. Just about right to get a bit of a rest and some tea in before the official off at 9. Should have gone to find a decent breakfast, but hey ho it was only 40km to Eyam.
About 70 riders set off on this one. Didn’t see any recumbent or fixed wheel riders, so the serious audaxers must have been off playing somewhere else :). Had to fight the urge to turn right at the bottom of the hill as most of the Alfreton routes do, but was nice not to be dicing with idiot overtakers in cars. A semi pace line seemed to form up, but wasn’t quite at the right pace for me so I moved up a bit. Leapfrogged with a couple of groups till I fell in with 2 other riders who’s pace suited me.
This was the only section where my gpx departed from the routesheet (no real shortcut, though I did add a nice gratuitous short scroggy climb). It would appear that when I cleaned it up a bit I removed a couple of waypoints and MapSource went for what it thought was a better route.
Luckily one of the riders I fell in with had done the ride before (as the Biggin Hilly and Roy Carradine Memorial) so I followed a wheel for a bit. Was suprised to get to Eyam pretty near the head of the field (looks like the fast club boys were at the same event as the audaxers), which was actually quite useful. The Tea Rooms were being refurbished and under new management who’d arranged to open especially for us. Once the main body of riders turned it started getting a bit hectic. I’d really been feeling the effects of 100km without food, and the wheels had almost come off big style on the climb up New Road off of the B6521, so I had a decent portion of Beans on Toast with the traditional Fried egg. My previous riding companions had left by then, and the bulge had arrived so I decided to get out of the way.
Suitably refreshed I head up out of Eyam. Good long descent down past Monsal Head, though with a suspicous head on I did wonder if I’d missed a routesheet instruction as it felt a little too long. This was soon corrected after Ashford in the Water as we started the long climb up to Monyash, tempted to stop for a breather at the Smithy but kept on going. Got worried at where I thought the first info control should be, but it just turned out that the building by a TL@X was actually a fair distance from the X. Another good long swoop down a valley and a short climb up the other side and the control at Biggin appeared. Luckily the first couple of riders had warmed up the service (they’d waited 50 minutes, I waited 10), normally wouldn’t stop for another full meal but was still feeling a bit rough so had a large sandwich with chips.
Started winding up for the climb out of Parwich up to Via Gellia. The sun came out about now, so I rolled down the arm warmers and got into a good rythym. This was a great climb to enjoy, steep enough to be an effort, but not so steep that there wasn’t a good rhythym to be found, and pleasant scenery to enjoy as well. Then came the fun of shooting down Via Gellia. Don’t know if there was a headwind but I didn’t seem to get the usual speed going down, needed quite a bit of pedal pushing to keep >20mph. Straight through Cromford and the final climb of the day up through Lea and Holloway up to the Tram museum and Monument. Then some slight undulations back to Alfreton and it was all done. 5:09 in the end, with about an hour lounging around eating.
Rode home by reversing the morning’s route. Ended up with 212km with 2600m climb in 10:41, pretty happy with that. Especially as I seem to have enter 9AAA points worth of rides for 2012 already (and that’s just The Dean and Yr Elenydd (Elenith)). Think I’ll be putting this gpx away as a little DIY training loop.
The ECE part of the ride was nice and painless as well. The ECE org was nice and helpful, and I’ve already had the ECE parts certified. This is going to come in handy if I want to keep up the distances, but not end up traipsing across the country in the car or via public transport (unfortunately it’s work rather than willingness that stops me thinking about cycling to distant events).