Wheelers 200k pre Audax

Wheelers 200k pre Audax

04 Jun 19

Four enthusiasts - Barry, Chris, Graham and John prised themselves from their beds to make the 8:00 am start of the Wheelers' pre-audax audax. Steady progress was made to the Ashridge Estate (54 km) where there was a pause to discuss the merits of stopping for tea/coffee and cake. The large number of cars parked convinced us we were made of sterner stuff so we ate our pack lunches and headed for the hills. There were two nice big ones in the next few miles; Tom's Hill (down) and Hastoe Hill (very much up). After those we made pretty good progress towards Dunstable Downs with the wind sometimes helping. Lunch was enjoyed at the Chilterns Gateway Centre (99 km) knowing that the biggest climbs were behind us and that the wind would be helping for the next 70 km. This did not quite compensate for the realisation that we were not yet quite half-way.
After the nice long descent to Markyate we were soon on more familiar territory and heading up from Newmill End to Peters Green. Here the temptations began: it's only 27 km back to Ware from Peters Green but close to 90 km via the audax route ... but we carried on buoyed by the prospect of cake at Mill End Plants (150 km). The usual friendly service there restored flagging spirits and encouraged us to avoid the 23 km short-cut back to Ware. However John needed volts as well as spirit and left us at Barkway with over 100 miles completed.

In a final flourish, the tail wind propelled us speedily over the foot hills of Great Chishill (though there was nothing speedy about my personal progress up the final bit to the church). We then enjoyed the 2 mile descent into Essex before turning into the wind that would impede us for the last 35 km. Chris now deployed his towing service full time and somehow dragged the other two back to Ware (via Langley and Anstey) just before 6:00 pm.