The Cambridge Pork Pie 2018 — Weather Update
I sent this email out to all riders at midday on Friday 16 March:
Just a quick note to let you know that, yes, the events tomorrow are still going ahead.
We have been watching the weather forecast closely and trying not to get caught up in the Met Office's panicky desire to avoid another 1987. The Norwegians (yr.no) are far more practical about these things and are predicting the possibility of snow flurries, but not much else. We'll see what weather there actually is tomorrow.
What I can tell you with some confidence is that it is going to be cold and it is going to feel colder with the breeze – this will be a full-winter-wear ride to keep warm and that is not an overstatement. This is going to be a ride where you will need to keep warm from the inside as much as the outside – for most of the ride that will mean riding à tempo to keep warm from muscle-heat, and then conserving that heat by getting out of the wind when stopped, preferably indoors.
Experienced year-round riders will know this, but if it's your first time out in the cold then please heed this advice and ride to keep warm, even if that means splitting your own group into fast and faster riders. Personally, I would carry an extra layer (down jacket or similar) as well, just in case I was forced to stop for a few minutes to fix a puncture.
The Pork Pie has convenient stopping places with cafés (i.e. warm refuges) in Oundle at 55km, then Oakham at 80km, and Melton Mowbray at 105km. On the return, there's not much until you get back to Oundle, but plenty of climbs to keep you warm from the inside. After that, there's Huntingdon at a further 35km, then St Ives another 12km up the road and just 16km to get back to arrivée, where we will endeavour to finally warm you up. And pubs should be well-open by then, too.
For the Spring Dash, of course it's billed as "a ride of two pubs" and both are looking forward to seeing the 100km riders, so that's The Tally Ho at 35km and The White Horse Inn at 75km – and conveniently there's Bicicletta café con vélo halfway between the two. You should have little problem keeping warm on that event, only the long downhill from Balsham might prove problematic, unless you pedal yourself downhill all the way.
I rode the route in similar cold and windy conditions a few weeks ago, so I know roughly what you'll be faced with. I didn't have snow, but I was faced with ice-risk conditions and saw only one patch of ice that was easily passed with care.
In making your own decision whether to start the event tomorrow, you should only take the risks you are comfortable with; you are responsible for your own ride; audax is a fast tour, it is not a race.
Unless there was an unbroken layer of snow on the ground, I would be happy to start tomorrow, because the route to Oundle is very flat and after St Ives it is all on good roads for a couple of hours, so plenty of time for any snow to be cleared by the passage of traffic. If by Oundle I decided it was not getting any better, I would stop for a cup of tea, turn around and come back – 115km for the day and a feeling of accomplishment – "never mind, Carruthers, the weather was against us." If I pushed on but was unable to keep warm, the next useful place to abandon would be Oakham, where there's a station. And then Melton Mowbray itself, which has direct services back to Cambridge. But that's just me – you will need to decide for yourself.
If you did make it to Oundle and decided to turn around and make it a short day, text me (07500 787785) and we'll open up arrivée as early as we can (as soon as the morning booking is clear) so we have hot soup and cake waiting for you – otherwise we're going to be sick of eating all that cake ourselves by the end of next week, but our neighbours would thank you! ;)
If you feel that 200km in the cold would be too much, but you would still like to ride, I am happy to transfer you to the Spring Dash 100km event – either email me, or turn up tomorrow and ask at the desk. The Cambridge Spring Dash starts at 9am, so a little more time for any snow (if any at all) to clear; two pubs and a café to warm up in, and you'll be finished before dark.
If you feel that you definitely won't ride tomorrow, based on the weather forecast, please let me know, so we can cater appropriately.
And finally, just so you know, I have been asked by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to do a short interview at 7.10 tomorrow morning about this event and long-distance cycling in general, so if you can't make it, you can listen in :)