The Rutland Weekend 300k Audax, Saturday, 21st June 2014
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It starts at Baldock Station’s Car Park, just off the A1(M). The station car park is £2 per day at weekends and all-day parking for £1 nearby. The 300K starts in time for early trains from London and Cambridge, due just before 7.00. I'll be setting off to ride it too, as soon as those trains have arrived, but I will stash the brevets somewhere for latecomers.
Within a few hundred meters of the start, you are on quiet rural roads and with the exception of a few short, unavoidable interludes, you spend all day on roads that are very empty by the standards of those who live in the South East, and with generally better surfaces.
The route through St Ives and on to Oundle is mainly gently rolling road, there are caffs in St Ives, with the first commercial control in Oundle. On the loop north of Oundle it gets hillier. It's very like a slightly flatter Cotswolds, but the just-as-pretty villages are not yet weekend residence only and most have a pub still. There are three hilly chunks on the northern part of the route.
The next control is by Rutland Water at Edith Weston. If you can bear the change of pace, the section round to Whitwell is a great alternative : it is tarmacked and takes you past Normanton Church, which was rebuilt at the water's edge when the reservoir was constructed, and over the dam, giving some great views. It cuts the distance by a little, but you will ride slower.It goes through Cottesmore and past Belvoir Castle, dropping down into the Vale to the large village of Bottesford. You return to the Rutland Highlands on Terrace Hill, while rated 1/10 in the book 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, it gets an Ordnance Survey Chevron. The switchbacks continue most of the way to Oakham and then resume south of Rutland Water, making these sections quite tough
The switchbacks end on the climb after you ride under the highlight of the return journey, the Welland Viaduct, near Harringworth, which is one of the finest railway structures in the UK. Back through Oundle for the last commercial control. There is not much in the way of food options after that, so it's the place to stock up, though the route does go past a 24 hour garage in St Neots (with station nearby if you know you will miss the last train from Baldock)
This time round there will be no formal Arrivee, it will be catch me at the pub, The Orange Tree, or post the brevet off. There are other food facilities and late night takeaways in Baldock, but if you are a slow rider make sure you have some supplies for the end.
If you miss the last trains or are too knackered to drive home, there is a Days Inn 2 miles north and a Premier Inn 5 miles south from Baldock. There is also a Travelodge a mile or so along from the Days Inn, but it involves the A1, which is potentially lethal late Saturday night on a bike.
I will be closing out entry about three days ahead of the ride (I must GET postal entries by the previous Saturday) and not taking EOLs, as the opportunities I have to do the paperwork are limited.
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