Hardwick X-stream (Bucks) – 15/2/09

This event is only about 16 miles south of Milton Keynes (home) but due to the time of year a cycle journey can be far from ideal. It was my first attempt at cycling here but fortunately the thaw had started after a fortnight of ice or snow cover. For several miles of the cycle journey the fields were still covered in snow but the roads were clear. Nearer the venue and down into the Vale of Aylesbury, the snow was almost absent.

For eight years I had passed the village on the A413 on the way to work, usually given a lift but never ventured inside. The village hall was the meeting up point which was obviously used as a school given the tiny chairs. The course was held on Manor Farm on the edge of the village. At the briefing we were told that due to the height of the stream, one of the crossings was being aborted, reducing the course by about 1/3 mile to less than 6 miles. I was not sure how many crossings and ditches there were but the conditions were likely to be heavy.

I was soon finding the going tough after the long cycle ride. The course was mainly around the edge of fields but included some significant leaps over ditches and jumping into the stream not knowing the depth. The first was approaching two feet and the second maybe three feet. A guy was alongside me on the second crossing and used me to keep his balance. Once out of the stream it took some distance to release the water from shoes and get back to some normality.

Running uphill along the perimeter of fields was especially slow but luckily the last two miles were easier and more downhill. Given how slow I was running and tired I was feeling, I thought my time was going to be nearer an hour but was surprised it was only 46 minutes. As for clean-up, we only had a few taps in the village hall. The organisers Bearbrook Joggers provided much needed hot drinks and soup if nothing else suitable before the long return cycle journey. The last few miles were not normally difficult but I was feeling especially exhausted and with a mile to go sustained a puncture. Even walking was tiring but once home and after quickly refueling I seemed to recover.