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The Audax Diaries: The Dean
WORDS: Anton Blackie | PHOTOS: Wig Worland
With the 200km Poor Student completed in January, the second instalment of the route to Paris-Brest bore down on us. Any 300km ride is likely to be a good challenge, but in March a 300km can be a lot worse! For The Dean, the day would become a series of learning curves, mentally, physically and mechanically.
The day dawned without us. Not a bad way for it to begin you may say. But when the ride begins at 6am, it really is a requirement to be up before dawn. We set off from Pear Tree Park and Ride in Oxford a little late. Clearly, any peloton that had managed to work an alarm clock was already a good few km's down the road.
The ride took us away from Oxford, retracing the route that the Poor Student had brought us back into town. After some mechanical issues through the Cotswolds we pressed on through the Forest of Dean to Chepstow. Riding with great company always makes the journey a little easier and with the added scenery and sunshine James and Ultan appeared to have no qualms about setting the pace…
On a ride such as this fuel is key. You can't put petrol in a diesel engine which, unfortunately, is precisely what I achieved. James and Ultan, after a correct refuel at a service station in Chepstow, turned on the "Sport Mode" and with more horsepower disappeared up the road.
Highlights (and mental lowlights) were still to come. James described the kilometres from the Somerset Monument to Marlborough as like a Paul Nash painting. While he was clearly reaping the rewards of such, my teeth and handlebars were becoming more and more acquainted.
By the time we reached the services over the M4, light was beginning to fade. Crossing the downs and into the Vale of the White Horse and I was back on home territory. With Ultan on the front, I gave directions from second wheel as we hammered it through the lanes of rural Oxfordshire, before plummeting down the one last hill to Oxford.
And there it was, 300km completed. There is little better than an all-day ride with friends, enjoying the beautiful isle we inhabit.
Anton, James Fairbank, Graeme Raeburn, Phil Deeker and Ultan Coyle, Rapha's P-B-P team, will ride the 600km Brian Chapman next week. Report to follow.
- Last week was a great one for Rapha Condor JLT, all the action and images now up on the team site: http://t.co/ftBejPnnCJ
- RT @alainrumpf: Well done @mike_cuming and @raphacondorjlt winner of #TdK2013 under the scrutiny of latest drone… http://t.co/gv81uP9mHP
- In their attempt to cross the US in 24 days, @michaeltabtabai & Andrew Hudon will ‘Leave It On The Road’. → http://t.co/Per6QsCAtt
- We are delighted to announce the opening of a one-month, pop-up @RaphaCycleClub in Tokyo this summer from 22/6–21/7 → http://t.co/Jrc0EKZ9ky
- Huge congratulations to @raphacondorjlt’s @mike_cuming for winning the @TourdeKorea2013 and to @tomsoutham for best DS. #TdK2013
- @danfromnam in Corsica — outtake from our 2013 Spring/Summer shoot #corsica #beningstagram http://t.co/03A7pT9mtj
- Winner Winner Chicken Dinner ! The most important jersey of #TdK2013 hot off the press. http://t.co/Pflx0eUfdv”
- What a day... The boys keep Mike Cuming in yellow, after having to chase all day. Great performance by all.
- Just rehearsing the whole of Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday to recite to the boys...
- UK: Thanks to all who came to to tonight’s Rapha Étape Evening in London with @CyclefitUK — one of our biggest turnouts yet.