Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Harpenden Hundred

With the added confidence of last week’s navigation of the Chilterns, I plotted an even longer and more hilly route this weekend. As a couple of the team had to get back by lunch time, I was encouraged, against my natural instincts, to rise at 0515 for an 0600 start. As the weather was predicted to hit 20c, we all turned out in summer gear and quickly regretted it. Whilst there was little breeze the air temperate must have been well less than 10c, so toes and fingers were numb until at least 0800. However, it was fantastic to be out in the quiet of the early morning with very few cars. The route took in some great new climbs, one out of the centre of Tring called Hastoe Hill, one from Monks Risborough up Peters Lane and the best from Chinnor up Chinnor Hill. I can’t remember quiet where we were now, but we also found the steepest section we have encountered locally somewhere just over half way were the gradient touched 28%. Even in a 34x27 I had to get out of the saddle and was wobbling a little to make it to the top.

We had set out as a team of five: Andy M, Tim, Paul, Mike and myself. On the way we ended picking up three others, Andy C, Robin and a newcomer to us, Mike. Mike looked particularly impressive, not an ounce of fat anywhere and mean looking long legs that cruised up the climbs with ease. Unfortunately Mike’s new machine let him down when the main bolt in the crank came loose and no-one had a big enough allen key. This left six of us to complete the route.
I need to add a note of caution regarding the use of the Garmin when plotting courses. When we reached Chartridge, I was looking for a right turn to take us across to Bellingdon, however this ended up being a less than roadworthy footpath. If we hadn’t had Andy C in the team we would really have been stuck as none of us knew the area and all the Garmin has is a little black line that shows you the way home. Once you stray off this, you are on your own. I guess Garmin would be encouraging us to upgrade to the 705 which has proper maps (;-)

Andy took us on a detour back via Chesham, Botley and Bovingdon, getting us back to Harpenden just before 1400, an average for me of just over 14mph for 100 miles and 7600ft of climbing. Unlike the boring >8000 ft 100 mile route, this time I still had power in my legs to storm up the final hill from Redbourn. This is either due to additional training or, more likely I think, better hydration and food in take throughout the ride. This certainly made me feel better that I hopefully won’t bonk on the the final few kms of the Etape up to Hautacam.

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