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New Forest Classic Day 1


Competitors getting ready for the off at Gang Warily

The event start was at the Gang Warily Leisure Centre, Southampton, a very nice venue but incredibly muddy. I’ve never seen the Forest so wet. As I had 4 wheel drive I asked the marshals if it was ok to park on the grass. The Yeti just about made it across the muddy field. So off to registration I went. You need to take your helmet with you as a number is put on it. You also get a number for the bike & one for the rear of your bike jersey. Then back to the car to get the Sunseeker bike off the roof rack. Yes I was riding my refurbished Cliff Shrub, a 30 year old steel frame with a 2008, 10 speed Dura Ace group set. It was one of the oldest bikes there, most riders had carbon or aluminium frames.

With my numbers now on it was time to line up for the start. I was in one of the last groups off in the 92km event. So off and away, I sat in behind two lady riders as we headed down to the sea at Lepe Country Park. I stopped to take a couple of photos of the sea.

View across the Solent
My 30 year old Cliff Shrub, Sunseeker, rests against the sea wall

The course now proceeded on to Beaulieu for the first time. It was at this point that I noticed the Sunseeker had a bad rattle. I thought it may have been my pump so carried on. At 8 miles – disaster the chain came off the big ring & jammed between the crank & chainring. I stopped, turned the bike upside down & tried to unjam it.

Luckily, one rider stopped to help and it only took me 5 minutes to sort it. But I had been thinking that I may have to undo the Chainrings to free it. Back on the bike now, I was being careful about changing from the little ring to the big ring.

We arrived at Brockenhurst where traffic was a bit heavy & I started the climb of Rhinefield with another rider. This is my favourite part of the Forest with its giant conifers from America on either side, planted in the late 1800s.

Perhaps giant Redwoods from California?

I was climbing well & I now catching riders on newer bikes. The other rider with me was half a mile back by now. We crossed the main road before the harder climb of Boulderwood which is a great place to see deer in the forest. Again I was passing riders as they struggled up the climb. I was on a 34/25 gear combination up the steepest part.
At the top it was a fast down hill at about 35mph,  before a short but steep climb, and again I was passing riders.
At this point the forest opens up & is single track with few trees & lots of horses eating the yellow thorn bushes. Looking to my left I noticed a Harrier flying over the bushes. The first time I’ve seen one here, I should have stopped to get a better look, but no, I carried on towards Red Shoot & Linwood. This was where me & Ginny had are first camping trip together, back in 1986.

From here we turned towards the feed stop just before the Gorley Triangle. The feed for my event was at 30 miles, next door to the Owl & Reptile Centre, which I was to visit the next day, on Sunday.

At the feed stop I filled my bottle up, had a bit of banana & cake, when I noticed a queue at the mechanic. Lots of riders having problems with Tubeless tyres not sealing. Anyway, the mechanic Steve, was free to look at my Sunseeker. I said the front mech needed adjustment – I could see the cable was a bit slack – so he adjusted it. He then ran the chain up & down the cassette & noticed the cassette was loose and moving. He took the rear wheel out. Yes it was not done up tight. He tightens it up but its still moving. Off with the cassette as it needs a big spacer – but he didn’t have one. So puts the cassette back on & re-tightens it. He says its ok but advises I get a bigger spacer when I get home.

After a wee I’m off again, having lost 25 minutes as we leave the feed stop. Its a steep hill towards Crow, a climb I’ve never done before. Again I was in 34/25 gears – three riders pass me on carbon bikes – one of the guys who was having sealing problems with his tyre. We now descend towards Burley and see the rider on the Carbon Bianchi. He’s walking, his tyre has gone down again. I tell him there is a bike shop in Burley and he thanks me.

We now head back towards Sway & into Brockenhurst again – a fast road with cross winds. When I get to Beaulieu again – second time – I stop for a photo at the sign.

Another rest for my 30 year old Sunseeker!
Beautiful Beaulieu!

As you pass through the village you start a long climb. A group of 5 fast riders join me, all on high end bikes. One guy even has a 10 grand Specialized S Works with deep section wheels. I sit in behind them and we are passing riders up the climb. I notice only 2 of the riders are with me now. Even the second rider can’t stay with us, so its me & the guy with the Specialized. Halfway up the climb he has gone as well. Now I hit flat roads to the finish – I’m flying – doing 20 mph plus. The fast guys catch me so I sit in again. The guy on the Specialized decides he does really wants me to finish with him & drops back so I reach the finish in 3 hours 51 minutes riding time & receive my medal.

After all that, I’m really hungry so decide on a recovery pizza, American hot. Got home to the Air B&B & the Sunseeker needed a clean. Vivienne & Alison had gone to Southampton – Vivienne to watch Palace and yes they beat Southampton 2 nil!

Crystal Palace player celebrates the win!

Alison just went to do some shopping. Back at the Air B&B I had just finished cleaning the Sunseeker when Aaron Barr arrived. I had ridden with him to Teapot Island recently. He is a friend of Vivienne and had a nice carbon Giant Defy with him. He is fairly new to cycling so was asking me about set up & what to take on his ride tomorrow. Lewis turned up a bit later. Another friend of Vivienne who I had ridden with before. He also rides a carbon fibre Giant Defy.

The Air B& B was having electrical problems which, luckily. Aaron sorted out. Then the Ladies returned from Southampton so we all sat down to chicken pasta which Vivienne had cooked. It turned out Aaron & Lewis are Arsenal fans like me, so along with Vivienne we sat down to watch the football. Alison came in to say that the dishwasher was now leaking so we went to bed. The others had an early start in the morning for their ride, so I would clear the house up in the morning. It had been a long and eventful day!