A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

White Horse Challenge - April 2007 White Horse Challenge - 2007

This was my first long cycle ride event, the others had been 2 x 10 mile Time Trials.

I had arranged to meet Chris Conroy at the start at around 8am so we could ride together as we would be doing on my 3 Peaks, 2 Legs and a Bike.
There were quite a few people there with the same intention of starting early. We registered and got our timing chips, it was a bit cool and breezy so I was wearing my windproof. After a few miles we both stopped to take them off, I was getting quite warm.

Chris following me up one of the early rises
We picked up Ian who was cycling alone but then he tagged on with one of the big groups that passed us. Even though we were being passed we were still making an average speed of about 18mph.
The first proper hill at Broad Town slowed us down a bit. We passed someone who was walking, this did not bode well for the rest of the route. Had we started too fast?
I was familiar with most of this first half having cycled through many of these lanes on my way to and from work this year.
At the first refreshment stop we spent a brief time refueling and then turned towards Avebury which as well as being gradually uphill past Cherhill White Horse but more into the wind as well. It was certainly harder going.
The wind did not relent even when we turned north at Avebury, it was only as we turned towards Hackpen Hill and it's white horse that there was a brief respite from the wind before starting the climb up to cross the Ridgeway.
It turned out that the marshals that we thanked at the top of the hill were nothing to do with the White Horse Challenge but marshals for a horse riding event in that area!
After Marlbourgh Chris was more familiar than I was with this area, the route included some of the lanes that he uses to cycle to Swindon for work from Newbury.
There were no streches in this later half that were a flat as some of the sections in the first half, there always seemed to be a small rise to go up! One of which ended at the second refreshment stop, very welcome.
From Lambourn it was gradually up hill all the way for about 4 miles across the Lambourn Downs, into the wind of course, then a short steep descent to take us around to the final climb up to Uffington White Horse.

On the last climb, upto Uffington White horse
This was certainly a struggle for me, but at least once we passed the white horse it was only a couple of miles to Ashbury from where we got involved a fast finish (race?) over the last three miles with around 10 other riders.
Chris seemed to find the energy from somewhere to stay in front of this group, I on the other hand struggled to stay with the rider in front of me at the tail end.

A ggod day out though, the weather could not really have been much better, not too hot or too cold, a bit less wind would have been good. But as a training ride a bit of headwind is probably good.
I was pleased that we had completed the 150km in under 6 hrs, our average speed had fallen off from 18mph in the first half to a still reasonable 15.8mph