The plan for today was to ride the Peculiar Old 200 audax. It’s a 200km ride starting in Darlington. The route goes north to Sedgefield, west to Middleton-in-Teesdale, south to Masham and then north again back to Darlington.
The forecast a few days ago looked decent. As it got closer to the weekend, the forecasters started predicting a cold wind from the north. “I don’t mind that” I thought, “it will make it challenging, but that’s part of the experience”.
As I was driving down to Darlington first-thing this morning the forecasters on the radio said to expect sunshine and showers. It started to rain as I approached Newcastle. It turned to sleet as I passed Gateshead. By the time I was passing Durham it was snowing.
I don’t know how many riders started the event, it looked like 50-80 to me. As we set off, the weather wasn’t too bad, but after about half an hour we were riding through snow, which gradually got thicker and started to settle on the road.
I wasn’t expecting snow and didn’t have the right clothes. My feet and hands got very wet and very cold. Generally speaking I don’t like giving up on events like this, when things start getting difficult I usually invoke rule 5. However, today riding through snow with numb hands, numb feet and no prospect of getting properly warm and dry for at least another seven hours I thought “this is shit, I want to go home”. So I did.
After a bit of faffing about deciding how to get back I spotted another audaxer’s bike outside a café in Ferryhill. My fellow cyclist was getting picked up and had no room for me, but he showed amazing kindness by coming back for me in his van. I holed-up in the café while I waited for him; two cups of coffee and some beans on toast were just the ticket.
The frustrating thing about bailing-out was that today’s ride was meant to be part of my Randonnee Round the Year – that’s a 200km ride every calendar month for a year, and this would have been month six. I’m pondering whether or not I can squeeze a 200 in before the end of the month, but even if I can’t it’s still OK. I cycle because I enjoy it, and today I wasn’t enjoying myself. There are more important things than streaks, and re-starting my RRTY will just mean a new challenge. Yes, I could have forced myself to carry on but I just didn’t feel the need to. Putting-up with being freezing cold isn’t my idea of endurance.
I think a lot of people bailed today, there were lots of familiar faces back at the start. I expect some will have finished (or may be still about to at the time of writing!) – the sun did eventually come out so I hope they had a good time. The Peculiar Old 200 looks like a great route, I hope to be able to complete it another time!
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Since I’ve seen a lot of people with frostbite this winter, I approve of your ignoring Rule 5 and going home. It is hard to brake and shift without fingers.
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