With having to fit a big ride around other family commitments, it meant that it was either 7th or 21st Feb. With the forecast for 7th being good a few days before I decided to get it over and done with, just two weeks after the last century.
Having learned a few lessons from century number 1, I chose a smaller more convenient lock for the bike and had a fuelling strategy. I got out of the door just before 7 and followed the route on my Garmin.
The route I chose was one I had done 18 months previously. The reason for this was lack of time for route planning and familiarity. Keeping to roads I was familiar with meant I was mentally prepared for what was coming every step of the way. This is important if spirits get low later in the ride.
The ride starts off flat and easy. 5 miles in however I realised I hadn't eaten the breakfast I made myself! Not to worry. It wouldn't be long before I could stop at a shop and get some extra sustenance.
As I headed further inland the narrow country lanes were littered with ice patches. This was generally not a problem as I could just move to the other side of the road. The first 'moment' though was when I was riding up a hill and had a car coming the other way. I had to slowly wait for him to pass and move to the opposite gutter and ride in the running water to avoid sliding off my bike. As I moved across, the back wheel slipped but I maintained control. Phew! As the ride progressed and the temperature increased the ice disappeared.
Having climbed several hills, I was finally at the highest point of the ride, Brightling reservoir. I stopped for my second food stop and had a wee before continuing. Knowing the route, I had a long steep descent coming up followed by and very steep incline. Being a stubborn bloke, I wouldn't dare use my granny ring on my triple chainset so the lowest gear available to me was a 39x23t. I was huffing, puffing and grinding my way up the hill.
After another long descent, it was back into a climb. This time it was a longer more gradual climb and by the time I got to the top, it was a right turn to start heading east. Once I reached Flimwell, it was a short southerly detour down the A21. I stopped at a petrol station and with the thought of a quick coffee and a snack I was feeling good. However, the vending machine was out of order so I consoled myself with a chocolate bar.
Back onto less busy roads, I arrived in Peasmarsh just past the halfway point and was ready to stop at the Cock Inn for lunch but it didn't look open so I carried on. As I left Rye and entered East Guldeford I saw a cafe and considered stopping there for lunch. Instead I decided to press on to Camber and thought about having fish and chips instead. However, the prospect not being able to sit in relative comfort eating fish and chips in the cold was not a good one. Camber was my most easterly point and the only way back west was to go via East Guldeford and Rye. This meant I could stop at the cafe I'd passed. As I turned into the cafe car park, which is next to a farm shop, I saw signs saying it was closed. Luckily, the farm shop did food so I went inside and ordered a bacon bap and a much needed coffee.
Back on the road I now had a tail wind and as I headed into Rye Harbour the riding was fast and easy. Heading back onto roads the wind was still behind me as I flew along through Winchelsea Beach and into Pett Level. Next up was the climb I was dreading. Chick Hill is a 25% climb which is a challenge at any time but more so 75 miles into a ride. With a not so low gear I was grinding away at the pedals and cursing all the way. At the top it levels off before a very gradual climb up to the A259.
I entered Hastings briefly before heading downhill towards Westfield. I stopped at a convenience store and bought some water, and another snack. It wasn't long before the last proper climb of the ride, back into Hastings from the north on the A21 again. I then headed to Crowhurst which has a series of fast descents before a short climb out of the village. Skirting Hastings for the final time it was downhill before heading back home via Bexhill courtesy of a tailwind.
The ride finished at 102.1 miles and I hit a magical 25,000 miles since I started cycling in 2010. That's the same and circling the Earth!
I was suffering a little knee ligament pain during and after the ride. I think this was due to pushing too hard a gear. I don't think I'll do the same next month.