Martin Malins writes…
As another incentive to get the kilometers in in advance of Paris-Brest-Paris in August I started the quest in March 2006 for Randoneurs Round the Year; an award which is available to any rider who completes a 200km ride in each of 12 consecutive months.
The series started with the Denmead 200 which is my traditional first 200 (even though I had done the Poor Student in the first week of January). The series went smoothly with many rides ticked off as part of my Super Randonneur. Only one ride was wet in 2006; the Elgar Route in early September.
Finally there were just 4 more to do including my first ever 200’s in December and February; all ably organised by Dave Hudson (who is running 12 events specailly for the series). The Well Fed from Midhurst in Mid- January was a taste of how hard these rides can be and I was glad to grovel back along wet muddy lanes to the finish after a horrible section into the wind and rain to Alresford.
And then there was just one left, the Hailsham 200 (I entered a local permanent as a fall back but was lucky to not have to need to ride it in the winter and will keep this one for the spring or summer). The forecast of heavy rain on Sunday in the days before was very depressing.
Originally I thought might be the easiest of the last 4 200’s to complete my RRTY, it proved a difficult nut to crack. The first 54k started easily with the benign Southern ascent of High and Over overlooking Cuckmere Haven; but on the way back up to Brightling 2 things happened;
1. The heavens opened
2. The p*nct*re fairy visited in Horsbridge
I was passed by the rest of the field as I mended the offending tyre and soon was at the muddy and cold but pleasant El Supremo control near Brightling usually beloved of Mad Jack. After trying to open various packets of food with frozen fingers I joined local AUK stalwarts and Mid Sussex Hilly vets Jack Williams, Richard Thomas and A N Other for the nice leg down to Dungeness; the drags from Lydd to Chernobyl and back were a bit hard but generally we had the wind with us; and we avoided the Dull in the Extreme Camber road.
Thereafter a routine transit of Kent familiar to anyone who rode any of El S’s series last year, by no means flat though. A pre-ordered face full of beans n egg n toast n cake n coffee hit the spot at WoW. Saw a rider again just after the WoW on his way back there; whether he’d forgotten to stop there or just gone off route (as I did last year) not sure. It was dry by now and whilst my club gear had dried out my socks remained soggy beneath the overshoes.
The last 40k proved as beastly as Dave (and Andy Seviour obviously feeling thwarted by no Mad Jack of his creation this year) could muster; why do I always think it’s all downhill from Brightling? Plus my old front wheel finally passed it’s fag paper rim thickness limit and died about 5k from the finish.
finally arrived back in just over 11hrs.
Nice ride; nice route, excellent value; and a big thanks to Dave and his helpers Sabine (Jack’s wife) and her ami , Andy, Richard and the 2 Catford? blokes.
RRTY next year? I’ll let you know.