29th Doset Coast 200km by Mark Brooking

Sunday morning dawned dry & bright as I headed for the start of my 29thDorset coast. This edition started from Wareham Quay where a welcome cuppa was enjoyed whilst filling in the brevet card. The weather forecast had severely depleted the field. At the exact time of departure the first flurry of snow arrived.

The first leg around Poole Harbour took place into a strong north easterlybreeze in white-out conditions. It was a sweltering 2 degrees C. I had worked out that to stay warm I had to keep moving to minimise the wait for the Sandbanks ferry. Info at our hotel informed me that it left at 10 minutes to the hour. I arrived just in time to see it leave – the times I had were from the other side !!!!

A small group of us gathered by the cold controller to wait for the next crossing.
Passing through Studland where the rest of the family were breakfasting I was tempted to call it a day and go for some more breakfast. One of the attractions of the ride are the stunning views – at this point there were none. Then the sun came out. Poole was clearly visible under its blanket of snow and the road ahead was clear and dry. I decided to head for Weymouth and see how it went.

Some of the down hills were hard – into the wind. The flat bit was hard – still into the wind although headed in a different direction. Made it to Weymouth with an hour in hand for some hot food at the usual cafe on the front.The first blizzard happened on the first real climb up Abbotsbury Hill (17%). It was blinding stingy stuff that gave me a good excuse to walk up. At the top the sun came out; this time it was Weymouth that had vanished under a grey blanket.

The section from Bridport to Axminster has always been a stiff one. It took me an hour to do the last 10km to the control. It was snowing so hard that I overshot the turn to the control at the school where I was as ever well looked after. There were three other riders here, the last man on the road arrived shortly after me. Outside huge snowflakes swirled around – it was impossible to tell where the wind was blowing from. Donning a full set of dry Gore-Tex I left as the control closed, then the sun came out and it was a wonderful clear afternoon with views of snow dusted fields all around. Half way up the notorious Sector Lane climb I had to take some of the rain gear

off.

It continued dry & bright until the highest climb of the day up past the Spyway Inn to Eggardon Hill. I could see the heavy grey bands of falling snow scudding across at the top – if I could time it right I would be in the space between the swirling snow. It worked until Martinstown, 3 miles from the Haven at the Top O Town cafe. I started to melt in the control spreading puddles over the already wet floor. I was Last Man in. Plum Sponge & custard hit the spot. I realised that I would not be enjoying a four course feast in the Hotel as dinner stops at 21:00. SHAME !!!

The last leg turned into a slow time trial. A fine still evening, as the sun slid below the horizon and the heat from the front light melted the crust of snow that had formed on it. Because Dorset Coast 200km has BRM status there is no additional time for the extra 7km on the route. Time was running out and I came whizzing into Wareham at “evens” (mph not kph). Finished at 21:12, three whole minutes in hand so no real need to rush!!!!

Back to base where a wonderful cold platter was waiting for me. I consumed it in a hot bath. A perfect end to a day that can only be described as interesting.

See all of the Audaxers there next year – after all it will be my 30th!

Mark Brooking

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