Another great turnout this morning. Alongside the 7 ladies who set out on their own ride, described in a separate thread, 13 blokes braved the elements (so a total turnout of 20!) and set out for the epic ride up to Stokenchurch, the outskirts of which hosted the 2013 DPCC Freewheel Competition.
Firstly, for the record, it was cold. Bloody cold. But at least it was very dry, meaning that although there were occasional frozen puddles at the verges, the roads themselves were ice free and perfectly safe. Which was good. And there was practically no wind. Which was also good.
Steve Luck, as double-defending champion had chosen the hill, and – going for a hat-trick of wins – tried to thin out the competition by selecting a course quite some distance away. The route was fairly straightforward, although definitely not flat, taking in Clifton Hampden, Stadhampton and Chalgrove – turning off just before Cuxham to pick up the A40, which we stayed on as we climbed all the way up to Stokenchurch. Ascent over, it was now time for the descent. So starting on the A40 at its junction with Old Dashwood Hill at Studley Green we coasted the almost 2.5 tricep-straining, finger-numbing, toe-freezing miles down to the outskirts of West Wycombe. Cracking choice of hill, Steve!
Going off first, and turning out to be the eventual winner, was Martin (call me “Stan”) Stanley. But the suspense held all the way to the final riders as Mike Cooper – going off third last – actually toppled over (into Stan) . But crucially (eventhough he was riding his long wheelbase commuting bike) was a tyre-width short of Stan’s mark! Third in the competition was Tom Gray, a couple of bike lengths further back; with Steve Luck in fourth.
Congratulations Stan – hope to see you at the Awards Evening in a couple of weeks where the Cup will be presented.
From there it was literally 50 yards round the corner to the cafe in West Wycombe Garden Centre. They were very obliging in letting us take our bikes through the centre so that we could store them safely round the back. Although Robert Briggs did get a bit worried here when he realised he was parking his vintage Raleigh outside the Antiques store…
For the route home we headed through Turville to Watlington, picking up the return leg of the CC118 10 mile course, turning off at Cuxham once more to pass through Ewelme, Benson and Wallingford.
By my computer we did 55.9 miles in 3 hours 26½ minutes, at an average speed of 16.25 miles (obviously, this would have been MUCH higher if we’d been able to pedal down the bloomin’ hill!).