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A Pleasant Dorset Sunday, or  A Cunning Sequence of Organised Diversions.      Back to Rides in 1993

When I was living with my parents on the Isle of Wight, the local fast races were to be found in the New Forest.  I would therefore regularly cross the Solent on Saturday afternoons, and ride to 'digs' in Ringwood prior to a Sunday morning full of fun and excitement.

Despite currently living in Buckinghamshire, I have continued to think of that part of the South of England as my local patch.  For this reason, I decided that I should revisit the Poole 12, after a six year gap.

I located some suitable 'digs' in the centre of Ringwood, and my parents and I prepared for an early start.  I was number 10 in a field of 75 solo riders, with 3 tandems following.  I would have preferred a later start, but you can't have everything with a sub-evens qualifying ride.  It was still dark as we drove the short distance to the start at Moortown Green.

As I lined up near the timekeeper, Dave Pitt walked across the road.  He had been signed up to help the Longland/Stroud tandem, and so had some time to kill.  He was holding the shield for London to Portsmouth and back Trike record, and decided to present it to me, there and then.  With less than a minute to go before my start time, I was unable to make much of an acceptance speech, and only just persuaded him that I was unable to fit it in my back pocket!

This silliness had managed, for a short period, to force me to forget how cold I was.  When I set off, I realised the true advantage that later starters would have.  The first leg of the Poole 12 follows the east bank of the River Avon, and the mist which was enshrouding the road was not offering any warmth at all.  With a short exception, the whole of the first 18 miles were like this, and I was not surprised to find myself 2 minutes down on my schedule as I joined the A31.

The schedule was designed to carefully lift my advantage over an 'evens' ride to a peak of 40 minutes.  Statisticians amongst you may point out that this would not have exceeded Stuart Jackson's personal best.  My reply is to say that the difference only amounts to a few seconds, and if you're that close to a target, then you're bound to be able to beat it.  (ref London to Brighton and back, August 1993).

Anyhow, back to the race ... while that paragraph was being written, I was past Stoney Cross, around the Cadnam turn, and back to Ringwood.  More acceptable temperatures had induced me back to schedule at 40 miles, and after detours to Sopley and Bournemouth, I found myself first on the road.

This has happened before, and is not good news.  Several years ago, in the Western TTA 12, I arrived at a succession of junctions in the 'middle-of-nowhere', just as the chief marshall was putting signs out.  He was just about able to get to each subsequent location as I needed directing.  It was bothersome, nevertheless.

Of course, I knew the way in this race, .. but, with my particular objective in mind, I needed there to be a complete set of checkers in place.

There seemed to be an easterly component in the wind, and so I had quite a fast ride past Ferndown and Wimborne - leaving me several minutes 'up' at the Roundhouse roundabout (83 miles).

A short detour allowed me to check my progress against the opposition.  I was pleased to note that there was now 10 minutes between me and the next rider on the road.  By 100 miles, which took 4h 30m, I was on the downhill run towards Poole, and was now hoping that the next marshall would be ready for me.

As a precaution, my parents went ahead, and were relieved to spot a stationary cyclist - searching through his saddlebag.  They alerted him to my presence, and the worry was over.  Around the turn, and I started again watching to see how close the next rider was.

Terry Icke, who was clearly onto a good ride, was less than 10 minutes away, having caught Lee Paxton - his local rival. 

I managed to survive a further 50 miles, returning to Roundhouse, visiting Blandford St Mary, then Ferndown, and Roundhouse again.  Terry hadn't been far away at Ferndown, and I knew he must have been closing in as we headed for Bere Regis for the second time.  I was looking forward to my first communication with another rider for 100 miles. 

Unfortunately, I was developing the need to stop for a short 'comfort' break.  I promised myself that I would stop immediately Terry had gone by.  But where was he?  After several more miles, I decided that I had to stop.  And guess what, .... no sooner did I stop than he rode by.  Rats.

Anyhow, I resurrected myself from this disappointment, and continued westwards.  I had been steadily stretching my advantage over schedule, and was now 10 minutes up.  With still only a light wind, a big mileage seemed posible. 

After the 178 mile turn at Upton, however, there were clouds on the metaphorical horizon.  Lee Paxton was only a matter of minutes behind, and The Tandem was also within striking distance.

For the next few miles, I mentally prepared myself to be caught AGAIN.  It was a difficult experience to cope with, but with Lee managing a civilised comment as he passed, my trauma was minimised.  185 miles gone.

On the second trip to Blandford St Mary, I was expecting my tandemising clubmates to come thundering past.  They didn't appear, much to my amazement.  However, as it happened, they had been forced to retire for medical reasons - Nev Stroud being rushed to hospital after an asthma attack. 

With 200 miles passing in 9hr 12mins, I was feeling very happy as I rejoined the main stream part of the race, most of which had missed the previous detour out.  It was fun now to be back amongst the other riders, and to see their obvious disappointment as the 'bloke on the trike' came past. 

My advantage over schedule was maximised at 12 minutes as I joined the finshing circuit at 222 miles.  All I had to do now was complete two circuits.

Suddenly, as so often happens when you believe that you're home-and-dry, I seemed to lose power, and I was struggling.  After a while, I realised that the problem was the poor surface, which had teamed up with the mist earlier in the day, and I became a little happier. 

I had been catching the occasional riders, and most weren't too bothered.  However, there was one guy from the Oxford University CC who didn't seem to be able to cope.  No sooner had I gone past him, than he put on a steaming sprint to ride off out of sight.  About 20 minutes later, I caught him again, only for the performance to be repeated.  I guess it helped his mileage, although the technique won't be found in "Know The Game : 12 hour Riding".

I have noticed in previous 12 hour races, that time seems to drag as you approach the end (in startling contrast to fixed distance races, where it runs away like a rabbit on dexedrine).  For this reason, I avoid frequent peeps at my watch in the closing stages.  I was still hanging onto an 8 minute advantage over Stuart's effort when I passed 250 miles, and about 10 minutes later, it was all over - except for the last 7 minutes of agony, running out within sight of the giant crowd (led by an enthusiastic hairy monster?) at The Green.

I was quite pleased with an 18 mile PB, which netted me 3rd on Handicap.  If I tell you that I was 7th overall, you'll never guess how far the scratch prizes reached.  Precisely.  Thank you.

Back to Rides in 1993

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