Thursday, June 28, 2012


June 17th 2012
A couple of months ago Paul suggested that we ride the Summit 65 as our pre-Alps trip fitness goal. The route as the name suggests is 65 miles (80% off road) and is based in Berks/South Oxfordshire. In simple terms the riding takes in the best the Chilterns has to offer with an abundance of relatively short but steep single track climbs and descents. The area in question has some of my favorite local trails and I new I had to give it a go.
I managed to persuade Nick to ride with us. In has own words he is a ‘diesel engine’. Not necessarily the fastest but he can keep going for mile after mile. Just the sort of person you need around for when the going gets tough to help provide encouragement and inspiration. I’ve ridden 65 miles off road before and I new it would be a tough ride. Paul seemed determined to guarantee a tough ride by attempting it on a single speed (respect!)
The Summit 65 circuit provided for two routes 65k (45m) or 65m. Both consisted of the same 30m outbound route to a feed station at Christmas Common. The 65m route added a 20mile loop on the Ridgeway to Bledlow Ridge and back to the feed station. The final section was 15m back to the start via Ibstone. On closer inspection of the route map it appeared that I’d previously ridden most of the planned route just not altogether or in the intended direct. Total Accent for the 65m route was indicated as 6600ft.
We were blessed with fine weather for the event. Sunshine and cloud and temperatures up to around 18C. After registering at around 8.00am in High Wycombe we started the ride with a group of around 30 rides at around 8.30am. Riders continued to depart until around 10.30am. We were advised that the registration office would stay open until 5.00pm for our completion. Given the length of the ride that provided 8 ½ hours to complete the event.
The first 30 miles to the feed station probably presented the best riding conditions of the day. After the first steep ascent the pack of riders conveniently split and we were left riding with a group size or around 10 riders spaced within a minute of each other. Conditions were surprisingly dry and the riding on offer was fantastic. Manageable climbs and great descent sections. It was a well planned route, every climb rewarded with a great Chiltern descent. We all enjoyed the route immensely. Unexpectedly, the fun was spoilt for me when, at around 27 miles, I was hit by cramp in my legs. It’s not something that I'm used to and it was not pleasant. It took a while and I managed to slowly limp to the feed station. It’s fair to say that I was concerned to be faced with another 35miles when my legs were already demanding that I ease off. Nick and Paul provided great encouragement and we all concluded that my best hope was to consume as much cake and banana as possible before setting off again. For my part I was determined to give it go but realistic enough to conclude that I might have to retire at some point.
Fortunately, the next 10 miles of Ridgeway riding were quite flat and dry. Paul acted as pacemaker and I tried to keep an even pace and not load up my legs enough to set the cramp off. I’m sure the food and fluid I’d taken in helped considerably. We were lucky enough to scale Bledlow ridge on the road. But the resulting and long decent was a complete mud fest and in places we had to push downhill! It was by far the worst section of the ride and we all suffered. Riding or walking just took a lot out of our legs. Latter in the day we established that it had had the same effect on most riders some even being forced to pull out. Not long after the mud Paul also started to suffer from leg cramps. Oddly this came as a relief to me. I no longer felt the odd one out! It became quite amusing as intermittently one of us would yelp, fall off our bike and roll around on the floor cursing until we able to stop the cramp. Paul devised a novel solution which involved walking around in circles. Something akin to a misplaced druid in search of stones!
We made it back to Christmas common feeling tired but optimistic that even if we had to push the remaining hills we could complete the 65mile route. Paul’s single speed performance was immense, Nick was quietly churning out the miles and if anything getting stronger! I was pleased to be there and relieved to be firing on 3 cylinders.
The final 15m to Ibstone and back to Wycombe were no easier then the 50m that had proceeded. A combination of mud and fierce climbs made the going tough. In general Paul and I would ride a hill until cramps made us fall off… we would then push to the top. Nick would hit the granny ring and keep on grinding to the top. All of this resulted in us getting to the top within a minute or so of each other. I’m sure we were all spurred on by the fact that it was the home run although my body failed to respond with the same enthusiasm.
The good news is that we all made it and arrived back at precisely 5.00pm.

Data Taken from my Garmin on the day:
Total distance 65m
Total Accent 6600ft
Average riding speed 9.2mph
Total riding time 7 hours
Total Time to complete 8.5 hours
Highlights of the day:
  • Finishing it
  • Paul completing it on a single speed (respect!)
  • Nick still riding hills with determination and strength after 65m
  • Some great Chiltern descents
  • Great riding company
  • Very well organized and way marked route
Issues on the day:
  • Nick loosing his Garmin 800 (ouch)
  • Cramp for Rob and Paul (ouch)
  • Having to push up some of the accents (slog)
Rob: Cotic Soul with RS revelation.
Paul: Cotic Simple – single speed with carbon fork
Nick: Cannondale Scalpel with funny carbon chain stay and Lefty thing up front.


dozer said...

Well done chaps!
All our preparation has been done on Friday nights :-)
Not sure how riding round on a single speed rigid bike is good prep for the Alps though? Unless Willy is taking that with him?
We will have to get over to the Chilterns this summer at some point.
I would like to point out I don’t get cramp often, so eating and drinking lots does help.
Hopefully nous will catch up next week?