One of John Perrin’s rides, it appears to have suffered somewhat in this age of austerity, as last year it was the Three Loops. But never mind, it’s one of John’s rides which guarantees two things. 1) Fantastic hospitality and food and 2) off-road tracks. With this in mind I decided to use my new winter/audax bike – a beautiful blue Raleigh Clubman, with matching aluminium mudguards, Brooks saddle and a whole retro theme going on.
A quick cuppa and a hello to Peter Bond and Richard Thomas (previously only a name on twitter) and we were off. There was a bit of a crash with two riders early on but all seemed okay, and the rest of the ride to the first control at the Ice Cream Farm went without incident. I found myself riding with Bob Johnson, who’s a bit nippy. The bike was very nice on the flat and downhill first section, dealing with John’s cyclocross fetishes with relative ease – apart from the odd vibration/clanging from the mudguards or rack. In the first 35 miles we only went off route about 4 times, which is more times than I did on the whole of LEL – go figure.
The second section was a loop round to Wales and back, and we were joined by a very strong rider called Nathan. Again, the pace on the flat was fine, although high, but when we started climbing I was really having to work hard. The Raleigh is very heavy and not at all spritely up hills. Unfortunately, the other two were, so I was using a lot of energy keeping up with them as the road turned upwards.
The next control was John’s Van of Delight™ where there were sandwiches, coffee and cake, although it being in Wales it started to rain for the first time. Also there were two guys who had gone the wrong way round the loop. Oops. From the van we then rode/walked down a dirt-track before getting to a road, which had us thinking that secretly John hates roads. We soon found ourselves back at the Ice Cream Farm, where it really started to rain properly.
It didn’t look like passing so we set off into again with only 34 miles to go. I did a fairly epic pull on the front of about 12 miles, mainly to make sure I could control the pace as I was feeling it! Towards the end, the road back to John’s drags up and in the last 3 miles or so I was slowly blowing up – but I just about managed to hang on.
Great ride with two very strong riders – very enjoyable and after my holiday it was just what I needed to kickstart my fitness, even though my legs are very sore and I know I’ll suffer over the next day or so!
Ride stats : 126 miles in 7hrs 7mins @ 17.7mph. 5,162ft climbing, 6,328kcals of energy used. Average HR 145bpm.