I have to confess that it was with some trepidation that I approached the Isle of Wight Fiasco 100. This was less to do with any fitness concerns but rather an inability to source an essential part of my on ride diet.
As fellow members of the northern diaspora will be aware the continuing national shortage of Kendal mint cake following the floods early this year is a hidden national scandal. Thus my tried and tested nutritional strategy of Mint and Eccles cakes was thrown out of the window.
Common wisdom has it that a 100 mile ride was no place to experiment with a refueling strategy and so it was that on Thursday night I found myself trudging round the cake aisle in Sainsburys contemplating the humiliation I would face when I had to tell The Chairman, The Red Baron and Slice that I had to pull out of the event. It was then that my eye was caught by a cake that I had previously overlooked.
The Chorley cake. 286 calories of perfection. A delicacy packed full of slow release proteins and complex carbohydrates before such phrases had even been invented to market expensive gels to gullible cyclists. A packet of four Chorley cakes in my basket and I was back in the game.
The day started early with a 7.30am train to Portsmouth and a chance to parade our Fiasco finery to the envious commuters of Godalming. A quick ferry ride and I stepped foot on the Island for only the third time in my life. With the previous two being a day trip involving a spectacular argument between my parents on a disastrous family holiday in the 80s and a visit to one of the prisons I was hopeful of some improvement.
The hotel was found, our bags deposited and we were off to explore an Island to which the word “faded” can best be applied. An initial coastal hugging route led us past a worrying number of road closed signs. Undeterred we ploughed on only to find that the road was indeed closed with half of it having slipped into the sea and the remainder fenced off.
Reverse not being a word in the Fiasco dictionary, we scoured the area for a way through, eventually locating a perilous off road clamber around the building site. With a brief delay (exacerbated by fellow riders searching for some bubble wrap to protect those oh-so-precious carbon frames) the off road scramble was dispatched.
Spirits high, we continued on to a none too shabby lunch stop in Yarmouth and a welcome appearance of the sun. Refreshed we pressed on, the miles by now taking their toll as the banter noticeably dropped. The final stretch of the excellent route planned by the Chairman took in some brutish but thankfully short climbs and then we were back in Ryde with 86 miles and 2000 m of climbing under our belt.
I can only assume that the previous Fiasco trips to the Island had ended messily as the hotel had allocated us the disabled rooms in the deserted annex to the hotel. The sit down shower was however welcome after a day of toil.
A thorough exploration of the area within 100m of the hotel then followed and six pints of Guinness later the day was over for me.
We awoke bleary eyed the following morning and dragged ourselves out of bed and into the same sweaty bib shorts (The Red Baron excepted) for another day of riding. A pretty basic full English breakfast (no black puddings) was followed by ferry and train as we rendezvoused with Longy and Munzarelli in the cycling Mecca that is Rowlands Castle for a 50 mile recovery ride – topped off with two pints of recovery shakes in the Merry Harriers as we attempted to set the slowest 5 licks time on record.
A thoroughly enjoyable outing that I hope to repeat with many more of my Fiasco brethren next year.