As everyone else was setting off we were still putting the tandem together. A few minutes earlier I had had an urgent call of nature and had to queue. So setting off 5 mins late, but not too worried. After battling the headwind to Mortimer for ten mins, I suddenly realised I’d forgotten my brevet card. I blame the 3 hours sleep I got. The couple in the hotel room next to us thought that 4am was a great time to get intimately acquainted. I imagine they regretted that when we our microwaved porridge PINGed them awake 2 hours later!   :demon:

Anyway, Erica forgave me, even after, back in the car park in Grazeley I spotted that our S+S couplings were loose.  :facepalm: Fixed and back on the road all alone. Didn’t see a soul for ages. Doing sums in our heads about how fast we had to go to be within the time. Got to Hungerford with 15 mins to spare. I had a flapjack and Erica downed a cheese baguette in one bite. Nice to see Von Broad, Wobbly and others from the YACF forum.

On leaving the rear wheel was rubbing the brake a bit – must’ve been when I fitted the new pitlock skewer. Tweaked it a carried on. A few miles later, Erica got out of the saddle on a climb and we heard a metallic ping. Not nice, but could’ve been something in the road. An while later there was a tinkling noise from the back on the bike. OK, wake up, bikes shouldn’t go tinkle, right? Oh, broken spoke. Removed it, had a supportive chat with Von Broad and carried on with no more out of the saddle honking. On reaching Pewsey Velo, we discovered a second broken spoke, but they didn’t have the right size. It turns out that Rohloff hubs on 26″ wheels need 230-235 or so. They did try to help, though. I eased off the brake to allow for the wheel wobble, but wasn’t happy with completely disconnecting it. We spent the rest of the ride with a gentle rubbing noise coming from the back. We tried to ignore it.

I was mildly reprimanded for not having printed out this year’s route sheet, so it didn’t match the GPS track. But, as we battled the headwind and lumpy terrain approaching Bratton, my earlier brevet card blunder became a bit of a sore point. Grr, we’d be at the cafe by now if we’d left on time! I imagine the wind in my ears prevented me from hearing the worst of Erica’s insults. It was the lowest and toughest point for both of us, but after a good rest and eat in Bratton we were feeling a LOT better and happier. The return to Hungerford was lovely riding, probably mostly because of the long views and tailwind, so we could actually chat a bit. We missed a turn in Burbage due to enjoying the conversation too much. The blonde lady in pink who we yo-yo’d with got ahead of us again, but no big deal.

Back in Hungerford a bit ahead of our 20kph estimate, but service was slow and we left a little after the 5pm we’d planned. A bit more clothing and lights on, ready for the hills. It was a lumpy section, but somehow we didn’t feel as wreaked as earlier. We passed Wobbly around Winterbourne and enjoyed several speedy descents, especially into Bradfield. The Hope Vision 1 was pretty good, but at speed I was still worried about hitting unexpected potholes with two missing spokes in the rear. The final flat bit was much appreciated. We were getting a bit cold, but didn’t really want to stop so near the end.

As we approached Grazeley Erica’s gloved struggles with the satnav buttons finally caused her to emit a loud expletive. Unfortunately at that moment a group of earlier finishers rode past calling a friendly “Well done”. We must’ve seemed very unfriendly. Sorry about that!  Then we too missed the final turn. Not to worry, we’d made it, and with just enough time to drive back to the pub at Winterbourne for a much-appreciated meal.

Many thanks to the organisers and helpers for making everything else go so smoothly!


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