All the photos from the event can be seen here.
The Farnham Charity Bike Ride is an annual event that has seen it’s popularity and reach grow year upon year. With well over 1000 riders it has become a seasoned institution in the cycling calendar and differentiates itself from many of the other sportive events in the calendar by being so completely child friendly. It’s not unusual to see children of the age of 4 or 5 participating in what I would consider being a challenging route for one of such a young age.
There were 4 routes to choose from, 16, 25, 50 and 75 milers.
This year, having just bought the Langster, and being short of time due to football sign-up day, I decided to do the 25 mile course on the single speed as a little test for myself to see how I could cope without gears. The route itself is not unhilly, and in fact has a pretty good climb within the first 3 miles from Farnham town centre all the way up Crondall hill.
As soon as we set off I could tell I was going to enjoy the ride. The longer distance riders had departed an hour earlier, but even so there were a good few hundred riders doing the shorter routes, and as you would expect, many kids. It was great to see.
I was slightly weary of Crondall hill as even with gears it’s a lung opener for sure, but somehow on the Langster, whether it’s because I was pumped up with adrenaline, or it’s just the nature of the bike, or perhaps the fact that I’m OK from a fitness level perspective at the moment, but I seemed to fly up it. Well fly up in my mind that is. Later analysis would show that I actually went up it in a Personal Best time which I can only put down to the fact that I didn’t have any gears to drop down to, and therefore just had to push my way through.
Once up Crondall lane we passed left towards Well and onwards to South Warnborough and into the north west Farnham countryside with the rolling hills and quiet country lanes.
My mindset was almost like that of a TT and I simply just pushed and pushed. The Langster is really responsive and I was really surprised how comfortable it was to ride too. It was a joy.
There were a couple of short hilly sections where the tarmac was quite gravelly and sticky, and at times it felt like trudging through treacle, but I kept pushing through and at no point did I feel like the single speed would cause me to get off and do the walk of shame. I could however tell how hard I was working because I was dripping with sweat, far more than I do on the Roubaix, despite the cooler conditions of the morning.
I skipped past the 2 refreshment stops. Given the distance and the time I thought it would take me to complete the course, I didn’t feel I needed a stop, and I think I was proved correct on that, although it was great to see the stops there for all the families and the longer distance riders to take advantage of.
Before long I was approaching the end of the course. There were a couple of sharp turns, that without brakes on the drops caused a mild panic as I had to sit up quickly and had to apply the not hugely effective break system (I was riding single speed not fixie) that kept me on my toes, but there was Crondall lane once again and the very fast descent back into Farnham.
When I finished (in just under 1 hour 15m) the Garmin was only reading 22 miles. Somehow I has missed the Bentley turn off and omitted 3 of the miles that were a small loop. I’m slightly frustrated with myself for having missed it, and can only put it down the my focus on pedaling, but to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and so it hasn’t detracted from the experience. In fact I have already seeded the idea in my mind of doing the 50 mile route next year, on the single speed. That could be a lot of hard work, and a lot of fun.
Finally it only remains for me to congratulate the organisers on another complete success. Finding a balance between an all-inclusive bike ride event, which can accommodate riders from 4 to 80 is no mean feat, and it’s done in a way that doesn’t compromise anyone. It’s a clever formula and precisely the reason why the event continues to grow and grow in popularity and support. Thanks also to all the volunteers who gave up their Sunday to marshal the routes, man the feed stops, and ensure everything worked like clockwork start to finish. It’s a true testament to everybody’s hard work and dedication and they should all be applauded. And not to mention the not insignificant amount of fundraising that the event provides for local charities and causes. It’s great to see.
Very finally, here’s the Strava recording of the ride. I can highly recommend downloading the route and having a potter around the route. It’s a lovely lovely ride.