Sunday 24 July 2016

This One Nearly Didn’t Count (C#24)
Sunday 24 July, 101 Miles

Another sunny day and another Sportive. This one was the CSUK Norfolk Sportive which I’ve ridden in for the last two years. It’s a local event, based on the southern outskirts of Norwich, and broadly heads south towards home on roads that I am quite familiar with. The route is slightly unusual as there is only one feed station (visited twice) so there are two circular loops within the overall circuit and you ride one stretch twice. I think the reason for having one location for the feed station is to help the organisers keep their costs down. I don’t really mind this, especially since CSUK use the event to raise money for charity. This year they have linked up with Southwold & Hunstanton Lifeboat Stations to help raise funds to keep them saving lives at sea during 2016. During her lifetime my mother was a fundraiser for the RNLI so I am very happy to play my (tiny) part in supporting them.

About a week before a Sportive the organisers email out a booklet with full details of the event including signing-on times, signage, rules and regs and so forth. They also provide route maps and downloadable Garmin files that riders can load onto their GPS units – so no excuse for going off course or getting lost. Well, in theory at least! Being an old fashioned sort of rider I always like to take a paper copy of the route with me in my jersey pocket. That’s got me out of trouble more times than I care to count.

Well, on looking at the GPS file on my PC I noticed that the total route distance was coming up at 97 miles. Disaster!! Several checks and calculations later I was still stuck with 97 miles. Well, in this 60 Centuries endeavour 97 miles just doesn’t cut it. So what was I going to do? There seemed to be two options. Either to deliberately go off course somewhere along the way to ‘snaffle’ the extra miles, or get to the end and keep going for the additional three miles. 100 miles is 100 miles, not 97 miles. Imagine if you went to the bank for £100 and you received £97. You wouldn’t be a happy bunny. So in the same vein I had to get my 100 by one means or another. I eventually decided to tack them on at the end of the event. That way I could get the near-exact difference and also wouldn’t be thought off as an idiot by my fellow riders if I went off course along the way.

So with that in mind I rolled up at the start, the Crusaders Rugby Club, Little Melton, signed on, received my rider number (1005) and was on the start line and ready to go at 7:55am sharp. After a safety briefing from the organisers I was soon underway. I made good progress and was a group formed moving along at a good pace (20mph). The sun was out so it got quite hot and I was drinking regularly to stay hydrated. The first feed stop was at around 35 miles so I was trying to bear that in mind as I slurped my energy drink.

We made good time and were soon near Buckenham. Now those of you who know this part of south Norfolk will know that there are two Buckenhams – Old and New. I was busy concentrating on the wheel in front of me when we made a sharp left turn, because I thought, of a temporary road closure. After nearly two miles a light went on in my head. We were heading towards Old Buckenham; the feed station was at New Buckenham. Time to consult that paper map. Most of the others in the group were head down and pedalling with determination. So with a shout, which was ignored by the others, I pulled up and quickly confirmed that a U-turn was in order. (You can see the 'detour' on the map above.) A two mile backtrack and then another mile along the route saw me in New Buckenham filling up my bottles and scoffing a welcome banana. And joy of joys, I might now just complete the hundred without any extra riding.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, pleasant but uneventful. As we approached the finish I reckoned that it was going to be touch and go for the century. In the event I crossed the finish line at 100.9 miles. Phew! And I have no idea what happened to the rest of that group. They could by now be in north Norfolk heading for the sea. Who knows!

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