04 October 2011

Ride report: The New Uppertea 200 Audax, Stages 3 and 4

So there we were on our first audax, seemingly keeping up with the crowd as we kept meeting them at the controls. The morning had gone very well and as we left the second control we both had high hopes for the afternoon...

Stage 3: Sutton Scotney to Upperton (69 km)
...but the indian summer heat was starting to kick in, and on our first climb after the control I started to fade too quickly. I think, despite the rest at the control, that I hadn't been drinking enough water. We had to rest in the shade for a while before I felt ready to continue on... and even then I thought it would be better to go at a slightly slower pace rather than push myself too hard and need to stop again. We carried on, only pausing again in Liss when we had to wait at a level crossing for a train to go through. We also managed to convince a pub owner to fill our water bottles up, despite the pub not being open yet. It was that kind of heat that they took pity on us!

Level crossing at Liss.

We eventually turned on to the A272, which we had been worried about being quite busy. But by that time I was feeling quite strong and it was mostly downhill, so we kept up well with the traffic and the km's kicked by pretty quickly. Finally we turned into Upperton, going up the tough hill and finding the third control with the El Supremo feed station we had heard so much about!

We sensed trouble when we arrived and the organisers were already starting to pack up the feed station. They confirmed we were the last riders on the course and it seemed like there was quite a bit of time between us and the previous guys. Still, there was lots of lovely cake, a nice hot drink, and basically any other kind of food we could wish for. We tried to eat and drink as much as we could and then prepared ourselves for stage 4, which we knew would mean night riding.

El Supremo feed station.
Stage 4: Upperton to Newlands Corner (47 km)
We put on our hi-viz vests, changed our sunglass lenses to clear lenses, and switched on our lights. We had to go back on the A272 for a while, this time less easy going as there was a climb out of Petworth that really killed me! Having to climb on such a busy road was stressful and I was starting to feel very tired from the day's hard work. We took another break by the side of the road and Alberto snapped some pictures of the sunset while I tried to gather myself together for the last 45 km.

We road on into the night, keeping an eye on the clock as we knew we would be cutting it close for the final control. After Billinghurst, we were supposed to go onto the A29 which looked really busy with people coming home from their Saturday activities. Alberto took a quick look at the GPS and plotted a route on quiet lanes instead. Then we were in our element of night riding and I was feeling much better again. That is until the final tough climb of the day in Ewhurst! I had to walk it and Alberto was kind enough to ride slowly with me rather than leaving me to walk alone in the dark!

We made it to Shere, the last town before our destination and then up a gradual climb to Newlands Corner. Alberto kept shouting out distances on the GPS (1 km! 500m! 300m!) and we could hardly believe it when we turned into the carpark at 9:30pm, just half an hour before the cutoff time! We were several hours later than everyone else (and apologised profusely to Richard the Audax secretary for having to wait there for us!), but we made it! After our brevet cards are validated, we will officially be randonneurs!

For those interested in the stats:

- Moving time: 10h 7m
- Stopped time: 3h 04m
- Moving average: 21 km/h (not bad!!!)
- Overall average: 16.5 km/h (including stopping, meaning we cut it very fine to get to the last control!)
- Max speed: 51.3 km/h
- Trip odometer: 215 km

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