The headline on the BBC website read ‘Buzzard continues cyclist attacks’.
The article continued: “The death of a buzzard in Devon last week has failed to halt a spate of attacks on cyclists.
“A buzzard was killed last Wednesday after it dive-bombed a van on the A3072 at Brandis Corner near Holsworthy.
“But over the weekend, three cyclists taking part in an Audax long-distance cycling event were attacked, and one of them even had his hat stolen.
“Experts believe the bird is the mate of the buzzard which was killed and is continuing to defend their nest.
“More than 20 cyclists reported attacks prior to the death of the first buzzard, with many having holes gouged in their helmets.”
At the first control, at Bude, Drew arrived bare-headed and indignant. Not only had the buzzard stolen his hat, but it was his lucky hat, the one he’d worn around several Paris-Brest-Paris events (last time on a triplet; before that on various unsuitable machines). Ten minutes later, a rider turned up bearing the hat, soiled but otherwise undamaged. It didn’t help Drew finish the event.
Quite a lot of people didn’t finish. One chap entered very late and in a panic. He arrived at the start to the sound of grinding shoe-leather, having forgotten to reconnect the brakes, and announced he’d never ridden more than fifty miles before. So to manage 150k on the day wasn’t bad. Another rider tore a ligament in his knee and went to hospital. Mechanical problems, physical problems, and the time limit, accounted for others. The Tavistock duo on their brand-new, just-out-of-the-box, back-to-back recumbent tandem trike didn’t even expect to finish, though they got further than many - and completed a (flatter) 1000k event a few weeks later.
Devon DA were out in force, because there was a new Southwest Super Randonneur award to go for.
The route went from Exeter, via Bude, Looe, Fowey, Longrock (near Penance), Newquay, Bude (again), Tiverton, Yeovil, and finally returned to the city via Seaton. There were only a couple of ‘serious’ hills, though the nature of the terrain meant that not much could be called flat. We had to cope with queues of traffic through St Austell, and busy sections of the A390. Other than that, the route followed quieter ‘A’ & ‘B’ roads and lanes.
Of the thirty-two entrants, twenty-nine started, and fifteen finished. Not a brilliant result, but some had their reasons, as above. The fastest got round in under 35 hours, not that we mention times in Audax. The slowest had 30 minutes to spare.
I have to thank Peter Hansen for his help and encouragement. John Morse’s help was invaluable, and he rode the event. Mareve Hansen, Liz Chapman, Anne & Dave Carrivick, and Andy Ferris all helped with controls. John Thacker did sterling work sending the riders on their way, and dealing with the brave souls who reached the finish.