Four Redhill MTBers headed round the M25 to deepest darkest Buckinghamshire for the Bucks Off Road Sportive, a ride which has drawn RCCers back year on year.
Mat was off first to tackle the 132km route. The call of bacon frying in the clubhouse and a leisurely day on the 74km was strong, but the call of a whole day out on sunny trails for the first time in weeks was even stronger. Away!
Half an hour later Mike, Jon and John lined up at the head of the field for the start of the 100km, the last time they'd be so far ahead...
John T says:
"After a couple of dodgy signs and the Faffmeister General stopping to adjust his seat (?!) the three amigos set off with absolutely no intention whatsoever of completing 100km. The sticky mud (getting stickier as it dried out!) meant that the effort and time required for the shorter 74km route was equivalent to the relative "breeze" that was 2011's 100km.
Lovely riding, perfect temperature if a little heavy-going."
Mike was keen enough to come back for more after last year:
"Having ridden this event last year and enjoyed the experience I decided to attend this year. As I lined up it was nice to see JT and Jon Linscott ride up and join me. Chris the organiser gave a briefing, saying that the trails were dry with 'some wet bits'. After a short time it became obvious what he meant was it was dry in places and the rest was very wet with some floods!
Some of the trails were unrideable due to thick mud. After about 20miles we all met up at the 74km route divide and after a secret ballot decided that the 100km was a step too far and headed off to the next feed station. After a refuel of cake, cake and more cake we headed off to the finish. JT disapeared into the sunset so Jon L and rode the rest of the way together."
John T completed the 74 in four and a half hours, with Jon and Mike coming in around half an hour later
Mat finished the 132km in 7 hours 40 mins, feeling moderately shattered:
"Not having ridden the event before I decided to make the most of the sunshine and go for the 132km. I bid my farewells to Jon, John and Mike and set off with the crowd. The first few miles were just settling into the pace, enjoying the sun, having a chat and letting the group string out.
The countryside turned from rolling to hilly and I joined up with a couple of riders from Coventry. We made good time to the first split and the feed stop soon after, not really aware at this point how much the alternating sections of ploughing through thick, drying mud and 'make up some time here' hardpack were taking out of us. By the time we got back to the second feed stop (same as the 74km) we were definitely feeling it! In between we'd had some screaming downhills, swooping singletrack, power sections on tarmac, vicious climbs and thick mud that seemed to go on and on, all blended together into one long spell in the sun.
Cake was wolfed down at unwise pace, then we wistfully turned our backs and set off to tackle the last 20 miles. As we got closer to the finish the organisers seemed to have managed some sort of magic with the terrain, with the climbs feeling short (but still painful), while the long, long descents were just what tired legs needed. We started to catch more & more riders doing the shorter distances and that was it, up into the big ring and going for the finish, unwise overtaking moves and questionable lines encouraged! The half mile tarmac sprint to the finish nearly ended me, but we still managed to hop the last speed bump to the car park, so it can't have been too bad. Definitely one for next year!"