Event: 17 March 2013
Location: Downside Common Village Hall, Cobham, Surrey
Hell and high water hits the Surrey Rumble, but there are still smiles all round from riders who complete the route, thanks to top class organisation and, in the finest British tradition, lashings of tea and cake.
The weather forecast didn't look promising on the morning of Sunday 17 March for the sixth edition of the Surrey Rumble organised byTwickenham CC.
The morning dawned grey, wet and cold but that didn't deter a few hardy riders who turned up so early for registration they had to wait for it to be set up first! Soon the village hall at Downside Common in Cobham was buzzing with riders signing in, drinking tea, preparing themselves for a wet day ahead and having last minute adjustments made to their machines by staff from Giant Twickenham.
This friendly early-season club-run event has a maximum field size of 400 riders and usually sells out within couple of weeks. This year was no different but it was clear in the morning that full turnout was fairly unlikely, and as expected at least a third decided it was too wet and cold.
Soon everyone was off into the now steady drizzle. The Rumble routes (short 57 miles and long 77 miles) are not too hilly and most of the climbs are early on in the route, the main one being over Whitedown. What goes up must, of course, go back down and the descent on the other side of Whitedown , which is tricky in the best of weathers, was going to be treacherous, requiring warning signs and a couple of marshals. The rest of the roads were saturated by the now steady rain and soon both the mobile mechanics from Bike Whisperer and the broom wagon were busy with mechanicals and rescuing riders too cold to be able to fix a puncture.
The checkpoint at Fisher's Farm at Wisborough Green, 28 miles in, was a welcome sight for riders on the long route, soaked to the skin, some concentrating so much on keeping warm by pedalling hard that they missed it, despite the marshals pointing the way. Those that made it in were revived by hot tea and cake and were soon on their way again, having had their rider card stamped. Only another 28 miles to the next checkpoint at Manor Farm Craft centre through soaked country lanes and pouring rain. More mechanical help call-outs, someone has to be rescued because his crank has broken.
Seale checkpoint comes as a big relief as from here it is only around 20 miles to the finish and there is hot tea and encouragement from Twickenham CC marshals, and cake, baked by Janice and her team and somewhere warm to sit, including a fire to dry wet gloves and warm chilled fingers.
Home straight now and the worst of the weather hits. It’s so bad that texts and calls start coming in from riders who have gone straight to their cars, deciding not to finish and record a time. Those that make it back to HQ are being slowly revived by food and Ann's delicious cakes, they sit glued to their teacups, some shivering, puddles forming on the floor beneath them. But they have smiles on their faces, they have done it! For some it is their first sportive. What a baptism it has been, by water, not fire.
Quite frankly, anyone that rode the Rumble this year deserved a medal!
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