Isle of Wight Randonnee 2012
Sunday morning is usually a quiet affair in the small village of Whitwell. When I arrived at 8.30 it was cold and raining, but the village hall was a hive of activity. Outside, gazebos were being erected with much scratching of heads, while inside cakes were being cut and wrapped and hot cross buns buttered. The checkpoint doesn't officially open until 9.00 am but already cyclists were setting off. Some wanted an early start to make sure they were back at the finish before it officially closed at 6.00 pm. Others were local speed merchants wanting to finish the 100k and be home for Sunday lunch. Its Randonnee day again!
Once again I was manning the cake stall. I'd even got a smart new gazebo to sit under this year, a welcome haven in the cold wet weather. All the hard work of cutting up and buttering had already been done, all I had to do was sell them. Its not hard to convince a cyclist that they need cake and I was soon doing a roaring trade. We seemed to have enough for a small army but it soon went and by early afternoon only the chocolate was left and that was selling fast!
The 6 people making tea and coffee were constantly busy – back and forth from the kitchen with tea pots, pouring it out then quickly washing the mugs so they could be used again. Steaming mugs were in great demand as hand warmers as cyclists arrived cold, wet and bedraggled. We could have made a killing if we had had dry socks and gloves to sell!
Anyone got any dry socks?
Wish I'd got mudguards!
It did eventually stop raining but it remained very cold. I was well wrapped up in about 4 layers but I never felt warm all day. The Isle of Wight is not supposed to be like this – especially not in May. One rider told me that he'd checked the weather reports and it was 3 degrees colder than it had been on Xmas Day!
There seemed to be more people riding mountain bikes this year which rather surprised me. A few years ago there were a lot of mountain bikes but these have been steadily replaced with road bikes. Actually some of the lanes were so muddy that a mountain bike was probably a good idea! There were a few more unusual bikes taking part. I don't know how this guy managed. His bike dates from 1900. The huge chainring must have made the many hills very hard work and the brakes must have made for some hairy descents! However he was clearly enjoying himself and happy to pose for a photo.
By the end of the day 1684 cyclists completed the Randonnee. This was a little down on last year's 2100 but quite a remarkable turnout given the weather conditions. Complex calculations by Jackie established that we had sold 738 slices of cake/buns/chocolate bars and made 862 mugs of tea/coffee. Not only did we supply much appreciated refreshment to weary cyclists but we were able to donate the £606.17 profit from the refreshments to Cancer Research. Another successful day!