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From A Wedding To An Invasion!

We are commemorating a few historical occasions this weekend.

Firstly, in 1981 you may recall a couple of people got married, and it made a bit more of an impact on the mass media than two people getting married normally does. One presumes that wall-to-wall coverage of the Chas-And-Di-Get-Hitched Show eventually got to be just a bit too much and a bunch of runners went running around Bushy Park instead. They obviously reckoned that they didn't actually need a royal wedding as an excuse after that and have been doing it ever since.

Looks like Pat still hasn't got over the excitement of that big day!

Amanda is concentrating on the practicalities.

And here's Merilyn, who on recent form presumably thought it was 70 k, not 7!

I have a theory about how to get Diana (the shiny statue, not the dead ex-princess) into the picture, but it's quite tricky and the light isn't really good enough. You will note that none of our trio features here, because by the time they arrive, the pack is too dense to pick out individuals well and the light has got even worse.

Still, at least the threatened rain has held off, although it's chilly and very windy. Riding our bikes home, we have a strong headwind pretty much all the way!

Now something else you may recall, although not from personal experience this time, is that Jane Austen died 200 years ago this month.

Well a bunch of her mates clubbed together to buy a time machine and have come to visit her grave at Winchester Cathedral. We have stopped off on our way to Dorset with the intention that if the timing works out and the weather is ok, we will do a Tower Tour at the Cathedral, but it transpires that neither of those conditions holds so we don't. In any case, Winchester doesn't actually have that much of a tower. The first one fell down in 1107 AD and they reckoned it was because God was unhappy with them for burying King William II there. They doubtless thought it would be tactless to build a very big replacement.

So now we're off to celebrate the Roman invasion of Dorset in 43 AD, by future emperor Vespasian commanding the Second Legion of Augustus...

It seems appropriate, therefore, that we're staying at the Saxon Inn! (Well, apart from the fact that there weren't any Saxons around for several hundred years, but what has historical accuracy ever done for us?)

I'll drink to that. A pint of fine local ale by the name of "Otter", and if you look closely, you can see that the glass is etched with a picture of an otter!

There's supposed to be an evening fun run at the site, but the rain is bucketing down. We go along to case the joint anyway, but it doesn't look like much is happening and we don't hang around. We will later learn that they did a much reduced run just around a field, mainly for people who were camping and therefore damp already. We do not regret choosing a nice warm B&B for the night :-)

Fortunately, the next day the rain has stopped and the sun comes out! Lots of people in fancy dress - mostly Roman-themed, of course - and even the soggy campers seem cheerful.

Translations are helpfully provided for non-Latin speakers.

And they're off! Some races are led by a biker, this one is led by a centurion. Of course.

The legion follows!

Actually, if we're being technical, this is more of a cohort than a legion, seeing as a cohort was normally 480 soldiers and the results list shows 476 finishers. Obviously four of them must have been defeated in battle by the Britons.

They also have centurions available in XS size.

This is good. I've managed to get here and find the runners! There has been no information about the route other than that it's different to last year's, until yesterday somebody posted a rather low-resolution photo of a map on Facebook. Trying to figure out what to do and where to go has not been easy, so although this part looked straightforward, it's only now that I know for sure.

Unfortunately, the first part of the plan is also pretty much the last part that works...

I've programmed my GPS for "shortest route by bicycle", but it turns out that it thinks a river of mud is a cycle route. This also happens to be part of the running route, and so I have to keep getting off the path to let runners by. They're not going fast here, but they're still faster than me!

When I eventually get to the next point I'd planned, I really don't know if I'm ahead of Amanda or not. I wait a few minutes, but the people coming through definitely look like they ought to be slower than her, so unless she's had a problem, I've missed her.

Ok, next location looks like it's along a reasonable path, so off I go, but then suddenly it disappears into another muddy track. Right, this isn't going to work, so reprogram GPS for car mode and I'll stick to proper roads. Pity that means riding back up the hill I've just come down...

Yep, it's more people who look slower than Amanda. I ask the marshall here what distance we're at, so I can try and estimate Amanda's arrival time. He doesn't know! It was apparently about 16 miles into the marathon, but that doesn't help because the marathon was not the same as two halves.

I reckon I can't have missed her by very much, and start off following the race. However while this part seems quite cyclable, I can't really get a lot of speed up and I don't know what's going to happen later. I decide to play it safe and skip straight to a much later point that's back the way I came.

Right, here we are, and there are some fast-ish men coming through so I can relax and be sure I'm ahead again.

This is also the point where the official photographer is stationed. Somebody remarks that he's wearing the same trousers as earlier. What?! Well, it seems that in the marathon yesterday, he started off wearing plain grey trousers and had to change into a yellow tiger-pattern pair when people complained he looked boring!

And yes, my theory is correct! Here she is, and I've not been here all that long. I think there's a good chance I wouldn't have caught her if I'd kept on following after.

"See you at the finish, Darling!" and I turn to jump back on my bike.

Bugger! Front tyre completely flat :-(((

Well, I've got my repair kit and I'm lucky with finding the puncture site and the thorn that caused it quite quickly, but it still takes a good while before I'm ready to go again. Then it turns out that the return route is mostly uphill and entirely into the wind, which is getting quite strong.

From thinking I might be able to manage another stop before the finish, I'm now all but certain I won't be able to make the finish in time at all. That proves to be the case, much to Amanda's distress because naturally she thinks I've been run over, or got lost and been eaten by wolves, or something equally likely.

But I make it eventually and all is well.

By previous standards, a mere puncture is actually quite light damage. We've had a couple of occasions when proper workshop stuff was needed. It's lucky, though, that I had two CO2 cartridges in my kit because this bike has huge fat tyres that a single cartridge won't fill. Must buy some more!

This is what I missed, but there are still plenty of people coming in.

You know, we haven't had any cow pictures for a while. What an omission, hereby rectified.

And I leave you with some of the fine Dorset mud we brought back!

We will now have a bit of an intermission: the next race will not be until the end of August.

Until then, love to all,


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