First 100 of 2022 (& Squares)

For the last couple of years I have tried, each month, to do a 100 mile ride. Weather and other commitments have meant this has not always been possible, last year I was unable to do a 100 miler in January, but this year with The Tour 21 rapidly approaching I am determined to get at least one 100 mile ride each month. Whilst I don’t think June and July will be much of a problem, as I ride to raise that £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia with The Tour 21 team, 100 Mile (or 163 Km) rides will be the norm, but as this week progressed my January 100 was looking doubtful.

We had organised a group ride, as we do most months, decided on a route and everything was in place, but the continuing cold weather meant a forecast of 1 degrees C on Saturday, and not that different on Sunday. Up until Friday night the ride was in doubt, but as we awoke on Saturday there was no frost, and whilst cold it was just warm enough to ride. At 9:00 am a group of 8 of us, including Mike Hopkins (who rode Last years Tour 21), left the EWE & LAMB in Bromsgrove and embarked on our journey.

In the morning we travelled out through Droitwich, our first few miles were difficult though. An accident overnight had closed the M5 diverting traffic on to the roads we were taking. Rather than a steady 17 mph we struggled to hit 10 mph top speed. Once out of the traffic we were in to the hills, the whole ride covered 6490ft of climbing, with two thirds of that coming in the first 50 miles to Ledbury. Normally with climbing you can expect to recover your average speed on the down hill sections, but with narrow muddy roads to negotiate we struggled to recapture the averages we would have liked. We aim for 50 miles in 3 hours, our 50 miles to Ledbury took 4 hours.

We always make note of the good coffee shops for lunch, knowing where you will stop is a vital part of the route plan. The right Coffee shop in the right place ensures you refuel properly in comfort without anxiety. We stopped for lunch at COFFEE#1 Ledbury, somewhere we’ve stopped before so we knew it would be a good coffee and good food.

The afternoon was flatter, wider roads, we covered this in our normal 3 hours. 6 Miles from home we were met by Andy and Loz, who got on the front and guided back through the now dark lanes to Bromsgrove. I’m not sure if their motivation was helping us over the last few miles or the drinks at end of the ride at the EWE & LAMB, but either way after a long hard day it was nice to have four fresh legs to help us through the last few miles.

Distance rides give an opportunity to visit new places, to ride roads you’ve never been on before. The training APP Veloviewer splits the whole world in to approximately 1 kilometre squares and each time you log a ride on Strava it identifies your new squares. ‘Hunting’ for squares makes sure you always try new routes to get those elusive squares to build a grid as wide as possible. My grid before this ride was 32 X 32, now I am on 34 x 34, a grid of over 1000 square kilometres. In the picture below each red square shows where I have been, the blue my biggest run of consecutive squares in a grid, the white where I am yet to ride.

Zoom out on the map and you will see all the rides I have ever done. Trips around Anglesey, Isle of Man, and Isle of White with Andy, My JOGLE ride with sister Lis a few years ago, and a birthday adventure with my friend Ali last year from Glasgow to York. I have squares in Canada, America, Mallorca, but in France I have only 70 or so (around Geneva and Annecy from a holiday a few years ago). By the time I finish the Tour De France route I will have over 3000 (with a few in Denmark, Belgium as well). Each day it will be good to see my journey of squares knowing that if I reach my target each of those squares will represent £10 raised for Cure Leukaemia.

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