This was a group ride organised by my local bike shop BikeULike (who built my bike) cycling from Portsmouth to Stonehenge in time to see the sunrise. Meeting at the shop for 1am, via Southampton to meet some more people, then to Salisbury, before a final sprint to Stonehenge.
Stops were planned at 24hr McDonald’s for many breakfasts and a chance to warm up! Final stop was the Weatherspoons in Salisbury for a proper breakfast.
I had wanted to be organised, have everything ready in advance and get a early night, but of course it didn’t happen. I got into bed early to get some winks and got up at midnight to sort out the bike and the last few things… all a bit of a rush/panic to get out of the door on time.
This was going to be a challenging ride for me, I rarely ride in groups, the distance of 100km+ would normally take me all day and the pace was the top of my normal average speed. But I was determined to do it this year, having slept through my alarm the year before and missed it! Ingrid was also assuring me that it would be OK and there would be some slower riders…
Meeting at the shop, we hit the road with no rain, a lot of excitement in general and nervousness from me. The pace was good, and I could keep up with group at the start although any form of hill saw me falling to the back. With quiet roads and good weather we made good time to Southampton, though unfortunately the rain started to come down while we were having first breakfast (apple pie 🙂 ). Then with the full group of 12 we headed to Salisbury and the next McDonald’s.
I had very little idea of what I was riding through, as I was focusing on pedalling as hard and fast as I could to keep up. And really didn’t have time to take any photos. The roads were lovely and quiet and the rain only last about an hour and half. Every hill saw me sliding down the group and start to fall behind and chasing tail lights through the night. I had made sure I was completely self-sufficient so I didn’t have to worry if I lost sight of people and I didn’t want to hold people up. I was really starting to struggle and need a break when luckily we had our first puncture which allowed me to catch up and breathe, and have some cookies and water, before we raced on some more…
I was really starting to struggle and was getting a little emotional about the ride when we reached the second McDonald’s. Never been so happy to see the golden arches, time for second breakfast of bacon and cheese flat bread and tea! Chance to rest and move the legs in a different way gave me some energy for the next sprint to the stones.
There were some epic puddles/flooding on the roads which were fun to ride through, for me. I love my waterproof socks! There were more hills in this section of the route and started to fall behind some more, some of the group were lovely and stayed just in sight so I had tail lights to chase. I was really worried about people missing the sunrise but we all made it 😀 Had to walk the last bit as it was muddy and the tyres had noooo grip at all!
It was amazing to get to the henge and be able to walk around the stones (the solstice is one of the very few occasions when you’re allowed inside the fence right up to the stones). They are sooooo large up close and the weather behaved and there was an actual sun rise! It seemed really busy but apparently was quieter then other years. We walked around the stones but couldn’t see what was going on in the middle. Got some photos which are included but really just enjoyed making it there (pretty much) in once piece.
The final bit was back to Salisbury, and I was seriously struggling at this point. My knee had started to go, although the other knee and in a different place to problems I had on my Pennine Cycle Adventure. But with 10 miles to go it was a slow chase back but the sun was shining and someone had got a slow puncture and I had some time to catch up each time they had to pump it up. But boy was I glad when we got to Weatherspoons and I got more tea and third breakfast 😀
After the brekkie and chill I caught the train home and had to fight to keep my eyes open and not fall asleep…
- Distance covered – 113 km
- Moving Time – 7 hrs 21mins
- Average Speed – 15.3 km/h
- Maximum Speed – 47 km/h
- Ascent – 1010m
- Descent – 966m
That was a cracking ride and showed me that I can ride harder and faster then I think… But not all the time. I really enjoyed the challenge but boy did I sleep when I got home. And I can’t believe everyone else cycled back!
Thank you everyone for waiting for me and Ingrid for organising and leading the ride.