Ride: Mildenhall Festival 200k

The somewhat nebulous training ideas* for the next 12 months include doing a 200k ride each month as part of a block weekend, with the second part of the block increasing in length each month. So I dragged myself up at stupid o’clock to drive 70 miles in order to ride 125 miles (then drive back 70 miles).

First lesson: I do not like overnight oats. Porridge, yes. Oat smoothies, yes. This … no. Somewhat unpleasant mush – no, that’s tried and does not need to be repeated. I think pre-ride breakfast needs to be porridge for colder days and a smoothie plus toast if warmer. Those, I know I can tolerate.

Sign-on etc was all fine – usual audax card etc.

Second lesson: when changing tyres, do up the brake release afterwards. Not really a lesson, I know this already – but still found a somewhat loose left brake lever at the start (lesson learned long ago – check brakes, gears and tyres before starting!)

The festival route is flat countryside (not as flat as StP, but frankly only the Netherlands is as flat as StP!) and rather peaceful – apart from the one idiot woman in a 4×4 who decided that it would be a fine idea to pull out from a junction directly into my path. The brakes worked and I think her somewhat dubious thought process was that she could pull out to drive/accelerate alongside me so didn’t actually end absolutely in my path. Note to other drivers: this scares the **** out of anyone, don’t do it unless it’s a dual carriageway. This was a country lane.

Third lesson: don’t bother getting food at café controls – they are no doubt delightful but I don’t actually want full English mid-ride and they always take too long. Just get the card stamped & go.

I don’t like half-hour café stops, as it’s always tedious to try & get going again afterwards.

Fourth lesson: get food somewhere else, don’t get something minimal to take away at the above cafés. Also, carry more food than you think you need. Back country lanes = no garages, convenience stores etc.

I had some nakd peanut/date bars with me, but really needed more than three. I think future 200k rides need to happen on the CX bike, which has a rack bag, until the Tailfin rack bag I’ve Kickstarter’d turns up. The Apidura saddle bag is fine as it goes, but a rack bag would be easier – I have enough trouble getting motivated to eat mid-ride, obstacles don’t help. I do use a stem bag, but that only goes so far.

Fifth lesson: listen to any instructions at the start. Somehow I completely missed the café control at Swaffham – the gps track at least showed that I had been through! Apparently there had been a pre-ride announcement of what to look for which I had missed. I was through Swaffham before I concluded I’d missed it, and was disinclined to retrace 5km or so.

Not usually a grand problem, but it turns out that there isn’t much/anything between Swaffham and Mildenhall on this route – and I’d last eaten at Diss, the halfway point. So I did the second half of the ride on two nakd bars and a dwindling supply of water – the co-op at Lakenheath was a welcome sight.

I really should not be working these things out still, after this many years of riding.

* calling this a plan would be giving it ideas above its station.

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