By Jason & Kate
I had ridden the Hampshire Hilly Hundred twice before. Kate, having just reached double figures for the number of outings on her new road bike, did not know what to expect. However, neither of us anticipated the number of participants taking part on the day which I believe reflects the continuing growth in popularity for cycling and also an unseasonable hot day for the time of year.
As we finally arrived at the event car park we saw riders with numbers greater than 4000, which explained the long delays into the venue and large queues of riders waiting to start the ride. The queues were full of good natured cyclists of all ages and abilities and as we edged towards the start we swapped cycling stories, realising that many riders had travelled far greater distances than us to take part in the event.
We finally started the event an hour and half later than we had expected and this greatly fuelled our initial cycling speed. On reaching the first feeding station earlier than anticipated we realised that this was not sustainable and eased back into a more manageable pace. There were strong headwinds but the real challenge was the last quarter of the ride, which cruelly harboured the majority of the day’s ascent.
We finished the event in a shorter time than we anticipated, it was a great day out and fantastic to get some significant miles under our belts. Certainly it was the longest that Kate had ever ridden in a day, but the relatively flat terrain of The New Forest had been kind to us and we are were left with no illusions that the challenge of the Pyrenees Mountains will be significantly greater.