We set off as 7 Bristol riders in full kit looking pretty damn swanky indeed, and by invitation only, Elsa from Liverpool as the only anomaly kit-wise; she sure held her own in the pack and on the hills though. Elsa took on the first 55km with us and then it was down to UOBCC to complete the full challenge.
The group feel was fantastic and I could quite easily imagine us in France settling into an Alpine climb as a unit at a nice even pace. It’s a real shame Michael and Mads can’t come… their loss. After stories of Tom’s driving, I’m now more terrified about surviving the 700 miles by car rather than the steep technical descents on the bike; at least I’ll sort of be in control on the bike. If only I had a car… (a boy can dream).
The 100 miles went a little like this:
9am meet, greet, wait for Gam… oh no he’s not that late! Henry makes Sam look good at 10mins late.
The first 10km involved navigating our way through Bristol avoiding the late/lazy commuters (what ever happened to 9 til 5?) and trying to not get caught out by the numerous traffic lights along the way. Once we were out onto the open North Bristol roads, it was bliss. The weather was almost perfect for such a ride; lightly overcast and warm with a slight breeze to tackle the humidity. We kept a nice even pace in pairs for most of the ride along predominantly car free country lanes.
I was thankful to have such a clear mind on the ride and not have to worry about navigating whatsoever; that burden was on Mads, and she did a cracking job albeit with a few GPS hiccups (designed entirely on purpose to lengthen the route to the full 100 miles).
My favourite part of the ride was the only categorised climb on the route, the Cat 4 Lampern Hill. It came at 100km and after previously getting it in the neck a bit from Georgie after pulling too hard on the front straight after a corner, now was the time to get back in her good books. I wish there was a picture of this because it wasn't what you see on an everyday ride. Mat and I between us pushed Georgie up the hill with one hand on the flat of her back and spinning like mad trying to keep an extra half a person going at your speed. It added a whole new level to the climb and my legs were in such good form that Georgie and I actually dropped Mat, Mads and Henry on our way to the top. Let's hope I haven't "peaked too early" for the Alps trip.
Lampern Hill, Cat 4 - 1.6km, avg 9.3%
We managed to keep it together as a group all the way back to Bristol and hit the second rush hour of the day. We'd been "workin' 9 til 5" as Sam put it. 8hrs 30mins start to finish with 6hrs 30mins of those actually riding. The ride concluded with 3 laps of the downs which of course got increasingly faster. I eventually felt like Georgie would hate me either whether I put in a big effort or just sat at the back, so naturally I fired up the old burners and let Mads draft her way to QOM on the downs Circular Road Sprint segment on strava. Not a bad effort as the last lap of a 100 mile ride.
Overall, a very memorable ride all round and something I'd very much like to repeat in the future. Bring on the Alps!
Mat being too lazy to unclip at one of the GPS stops... Took him a while to figure out how to get off the wall.
The GoPro attracted some attention in the group
The route back to Bristol had no more long hills and was generally slightly downhill so it turned in to a pacey run in with the light tail wind.
The rests we took whilst waiting for the GPS to regain signal were very welcome and probably lead to several us feeling surprisingly energetic towards the end of the ride.
Our chip stop couldn't have come at a better time. 110km down and 50km left it was time to reward ourselves at a very smart bistro pub in the small village of Leighterton.
Strong performers on a great social ride for UOBCC
Thanks to Matthew Mew and Madeleine Iafrate for providing additional photos from the ride to spice up this post.
By Tom Mowbray