Along with over 200 other riders, Doc, SavilleRowAlex, The Wattmeister and Muswell Hill Peloton guest, Benjo lined up for the start of the 414km Asparagus & Strawberries audax which departed from outside Manningtree Station at 09:00 a.m on Saturday 9th May.
It was a qualifier for the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200km randonée which will take place in August.
The intrepid quartet skipped around the course for over 150 kms. The Suffolk countryside was draped in a mantle of yellow rapeseed, it’s hedgerows adorned with brilliant white blossoms, all the sight and sounds absorbed and processed subconsciously, giving such great pleasure.
Minor disaster struck when SavilleRow’s chain broke suddenly on a benign slope en route to Wells-Next the Sea. The Wattmeister prepared himself to fix it with some dried snot and a blade of prime Norfolk grass, but Alex had come prepared with spare chain links and the appropriate tool with which to effect the repair.
The group continued on their way, catching up with Aussie Paul’s group of four to create a formidable band of eight. The centre of Wells was awash with audaxers intent on gobbling up the town’s food supplies to fuel them for the 80 km ride to Barton Mills near Lakenheath RAF base.
Meanwhile, as the sun dipped below the horizon, little audax jobs needed to be performed: GPS charging; route sheet change (back up for GPS); the donning of warmer attire; lights check; for some, perhaps the application of some Sudocreme, and so on.
At this point in the narrative it is appropriate to point out the The Wattmeister is registered *SCAP (level 3)*
The MHP circus and antipodean contingent rolled on through the surprisingly cold night, passing through Newmarket and Saffron Walden before witnessing a beautiful sunrise near the pretty town of Bures.
The crew’s progress was stalled just as the sun rose above the trees on Nayland Green. One of the guys had punctured, and had suffered a small split in his tyre. There are some interesting remedies for this. Some experienced long distance aficionados blend chewing gum with a piece of masticated cardboard to form a bonding adhesive which can be spread inside the tyre. Another tip is to use Gaffa tape as a temporary solution, but a roll is quite hefty.
Fortunately, on this occasion, The Wattmeister was carrying an adhesive Park Tool tyre boot which is like a reinforced patch. The fix was quickly made and the band of eight reached the finish via some rather steep little Suffolk hills (for a ‘flat’ county).
** Sudocreme Application Practitioner.
The ‘morning after’ breakfast.