Martin Malins writes…
The idea of the silly 0200 start time was to replicate the overnight 90 hr start in Paris; having gone a whole night without sleep and riding all day I feel more confident about this. As has also been pointed out a ride with the words Fairies and Flat (as in puncture fairy) was tempting fate.
I met Alex Greenbank on his first 300 and longest ride on the merry last train form Tonbridge to Pluckley, very close to the start. After all gathering in the hall the 42 starters hit the road in a very PBP style peleton; I rode mostly with Simon and Deniece, but also Tom Jackson and Garryfrom Gravesend CTC when I could hang on. An early shower split the groups up and after navigational cock-up#1 Deniece and i were left to battle into the rain and headwind along the coast.
The rain had stopped by the first control and welcome bread pudding and industrial strength coffee was had by the Martello tower in St Mary’s bay. Shortly after this the Real Rain came on the way across Romney Marsh to Rye, almost biblical. Another info (this ride has 7) before heading up the first real hill towards Tenterden and the HQ as the rain petered out after about an hour; thankfully not to be seen again.
After refuelling with bacon cheese rolls and more coffee we started on the hardest bit (the large mountain in the middle of the Bikely profile), which was actually just after the Frant Info control from El Supremo’s 300/400/600 but approached from Marden via Brenchley.
After navigational (and communication) cock-up#2 I lost Deniece just after meeting Simon who was trying to fix a P*nc**re with a Sparklets soda syphon, after using my rusty but trusty-ish pump we carried on only to suffer another one on my bike. This ride used loads of bits of other Audax rides (and also the Tour/Sportive) and cleverly repeated itself in reverse without noticing too much.
The Sussex Garden Garden Centre control in Mark Cross had just opened (chiz) I had to buy something rather than the numerous free ones provided by the organisers. We started to meet the 200 riders who did the same route without the first overnight 100; it was in theory all downhill from here but East Sussex knows not of such a phrase. Fairy victims were coming thick and fast now including 2 more for Simon
And then a very familiar coastal cafe tour; Rye, Dungeymess and Hythe Light Railway where I met Richard Thomas Rob Bullyment and Mark Heffer again. I eventually caught Deniece being towed along by the Gravesend Express and we all mostly continued back together for the final section through Hamstreet Bilsington etc (more familiar Tour route) to finish in just under 15 1/2 hrs ( I don’t think even Dave Pilbeam went under 15).
A lovely ride; thanks Ron Andy and all your helpers