May has arrived, and with it two unmissable local outdoor events, the first being the Randonnee: the annual 100k bike ride around the Island. I’ve spent the last couple weeks talking up my plans, so when I woke to heavy rain this morning I was way too proud to bail. Any day is off to great start with a ride on the chain ferry, which was pleasingly closed to cars for the day. (It doesn’t bode well that I’m pointing in the wrong direction in this pic.)
It was a wet and windy ride to Bembridge, with the inevitable hoards of club cyclists zooming past amidst talk of gear ratio and carb-loading. The crammed football club was a welcome first pit stop and I wolfed down a brownie (but later regretted not filling up on proper calories. Maybe those lycra guys speak sense…)
A little let-up in the rain on Brading quiet road (and a few altercations with a 4×4 who hadn’t got the memo) and a tea and cookies stop at Whitwell, where we set some guys off in the right direction after they found themselves on the 100k route, having only signed up for 55. The bikes were two-deep on every fence, but with so few girls on the ride there was no queue for the loos. Result.
There’s no denying this is a hilly ride, and the coastal stretch along the Military Road slows down all but the most hardcore. By Rolls Hill I was weaving in fatigue and those guys on my tail weren’t behind me for long. But by the time we’d reached Cowes sea front I’d found some last reserves of energy for a victory lap through the town, with all the other muddy and knackered two-wheelers.
Another year, another Randonnee. No doubt next year we’ll be at it again. Meanwhile, there’s the second big outdoor event of May to look forward to next weekend…