19 March 2012

Ride report: Invicta Grimpeur 100

 We got home at 10 pm from our first 200 km Audax of the season. I was quite looking forward to an easy night, dinner and good sleep. But I had entered the Invicta Grimpeur a few weeks ago, a rather lumpy 100 km ride taking place in the North Downs. This event had 1700 m of climbing over 100 km, that's why the "grimpeur". Audax people love to use french words for their rides and all Audax related stuff.

So, time to stuff my face on yet more pasta, get the bike oiled up, fix front derrailleur, get clothes ready, double-check routesheet, train times, weather...all the usual routine, but this time right after having finished a long ride. Managed to get in bed by 1:30 am, so not that bad. Luckily, the start time was a rather relaxed 9:30 am, so alarm set at 7 am. I was not too scared about this ride, as we've done much lumpier routes, but not after more than 10 h in the saddle just a few hours ago. My excuse was to get some hilly milles in before our trip to the Peak District, do two rides in a row in preparation to longer routes, and to gain my first AAA points.

Made it to the hall just past 9 am. Plenty of cyclists were already there, getting caffeinated and stocking up on cake. Got the brevet card and off we went exactly by 9:30 am.

Plenty of bike porn at the start, 9:28 am
Leaving Otford, we encountered the first of the hills. I took it easy and got up to the top without much problems. The second (proper) hill came up shortly after a sharp downhill. I climbed it up with a guy on a fixed wheel, who seemed in so much pain, but who did it ahead of many others, including me. I stuck to his rear wheel and observed how he coped with it. He used his body weight so that all of it went down on each pedal stroke. Interesting, but painful, technique, no doubt.  I later found out that he had made it up all the hills except the last one. Hats off to this guy. Just after 10:30 am we reached the first manned control, but as it happened, no one was there yet even though it had officially opened at 10:20 am. What do we do now? Just write the time by hand and check with the next controller. That was the advice from other, more experience, audaxers.

Ups and downs through nice woodlands, similar to our Dorking ride, we passed a couple info controls and stamp control. At this point I was feeling fine, no pain. That's until we got to Yorkshill Hill. We knew this was the last proper hill of the first lap, but the sight of other cyclist already walking was not so encouraging, especially since they all looked pretty fit. I somehow pressed on with another companion, standing on the pedals and battling with the rear tyre which was skidding at times. At the top of the hill we had an enforced break in the form of control. From here on, it was mostly downhill until Otford. I worked together with a couple guys and we were back just over 2 h since we started.

Yorkshill Hill 
At the Hall the organisers had plenty of drinks and food ready for us. Sandwiches and some cake were eaten, and 20 min later we set off for our second loop. I met a rider from the Ramsgate fnrttc who I rode with for the remaining of the route.

The second part of the Audax was much easier than the first one. Not sure if it because it actually was more gentle, or because I took it easier. I kept a conversational pace throughout. I chatted with one local rider that informed me about the storm that hit England in 1987. Apparently most of the roads we were cycling in were badly hit by the strong winds, snapping lots of trees, remaining closed for quite some time. A lot of the vegetation that surrounded us was only 25 years old!

After 50 km of more ups and downs, we eventually reached the end of the ride. It was just past 3 pm when we reached the HQ. The sun was shinning and the temperatures were quite pleasant. Cannot really complain about this year's weather so far!

Overall, I had lots of fun on this ride, and am now looking forward to more of these bumpy routes in the southeast. However, I realised that I need to do better prepping for the day before the audax, or else, carry the routesheet visible. I found it quite hard to find the info controls as the waypoints that I got on the GPS were only approximate.

As for the stats: 105 km total riding from Otford, 4 h and 30 m of riding, with an average of ~21 km/h. Another ~45 m of stopped time/feeding/drinking. I topped 60 km/h in some of the downhills, and drunk 4 bottles of water.

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