We left Winnersh on time at 6am, it was already cold at -2deg but the forecast was to warm up to around 4 deg. Ryan and I made good time to Chalfont St. Peter in a little under 2 hours where I swiftly devoured a pastry at the control which increased my speed somewhat (apparently).
We got some sunshine heading out towards Henley by now my stash of Jellie Babies had been opened must remember to keep fuelling up.
Some major flooding around Stanford Dingley on the way between Pangbourne and Kimbridge (note for anyone doing the calendared ride next week) which forced a detour around the edge of said flooding with chuckling from Ryan while I tried not to fall in and get my feet wet. Ryan decided to risk it and ride through, both hoping there was no punctures as a result of this.
By now we were being treated to a tropical 6 deg C and at 161km we stopped at the Farm Shop in Kimbridge for a stretch and some grub. We luckily got a spot by the fire that was most welcome where Ryan ordered Beans on Toast and I went for Mac and Cheese. Both with a nice hot cuppa. Over half way now and we could see Fordingbridge in sight for 5pm. The highlight of the stop seemed to be the inordinate number of ladies passing through and very interested in us – that surely was the lycra and our stupid dress sense not our devilishly good looks (we looked like we’d been in a fight at this point with blushing cheeks and bits of dried snot here and there).
Renewed and ready for the next leg we had a very nice ride into Fordingbridge through the New Forest where we where severely obstructed by cows (much to my a-moo-sement). A few other riders came past us, but we where happy with our marathon pace – slow and steady.
The ride out of Fordingbridge through the New Forest was lovely and flat but for the nasty headwind which slowed us up quite a bit. The Jellie Babies where running out now and I was starting to worry, being almost entirely fuelled by Jellie Babies this was a serious blow to me. Luckily I still had a couple of sarnies, gels, energy bars and mars bars (did I take too much food? who knows I ate the lot!) which came in useful later. From there it was a long old 100km slog back to civilisation, the light faded fast and it got very cold very quickly.
A couple of stops on the way back towards Alresford but closer to Winchester to grab more grub a suitable bus shelter made a nice wind break and hold up for a few moments to stretch out and regroup. By about 250km I was mentally obliterated and had I packed a tent, there could have been a decision to pitch up, every hotel we passed was a very enticing invitation. At this point it felt like a very long way home.
We pushed on. Once at Alresford we stopped in a bus shelter watching people leave the local pubs grrrrr, thats where I should have been – warm and drunk (err with a beer or two). At the next left turn we could see signs for Basingstoke which spurred us on, home was in sight now. The temperature dropped further bottoming out a -6 and was resulting in fingers being unusable and not feeling the toes. Alot of downhills here, too good to be true, then I remembered the big hill on the elevation profile, could this be it…coming out of Alresford into Farleigh Wallop. Ouch, not steep but long and mind numbingly boring, but it did give opportunity to spin the legs and keep the heart rate up and keep warm. It was becoming a difficult choice of up hills and keeping warm or downhills and almost freezing to death with icicles now appearing on Ryans helmet peak.
Now through Basingstoke and into Rotherwick and towards Mattingly not too bad on the hills here and coming out of Hazeley Lee, Eversley was only a sniff away as we picked up pace down Bramshill Road. Turned towards St. Neots, over the Ford at the New Mill and headed through Arborfield Garrison onto Sindlesham and back to Winnersh.
Luckily neither of us had any mechanicals, which was good as that would have almost certainly resulted in a complete flip out and a call for a pick up
One very long and tiring day. Lesson 1. Don’t do 300k in mid winter (or at least in forecast sub zero temperatures), Lesson 2. Pack more Jellie Babies, Lesson 3. Next time I think not to wear my overboots, wear them anyway.