Diss’d Clare permanent 200km Audax (5th May 2019)

It was a challenge just to find a date for our May 200, with me running and Geoff going away walking in Spain. so regardless of the weather, it had to be this weekend.

Sally Kelly at Angel CafeAfter finding the Alferton to Skeggy ride so cold I was really hoping for a warmer ride, it was May, after all, so surely it should be warming up.

We decided on a local permanent, 200km. Calendar events are hard to find at the moment due to everyone trying to qualify for BPB. We have done many of Nick Wilkinsons routes so knew it would be a good one, what we didn’t expect was another very cold ride.

The route itself was very picturesque travelling through many beautiful villages, with lots of wide-open Yellow and Green countryside, as a calendar event It would have been perfect but today it was hard to find places to stop and warm up.

Just outside Diss after just over 50 miles we found the Angel cafe where we stopped for Eggs and Toast, by the time we left we had warmed up and was eager to get on our way, as we came into Diss I remember thinking the church looked quite spectacular.

After another 50 miles and a puncture that took us off the road for 30 mins we rolled into Clare desperate for a warm cup of tea, luckily we found the Town hall had an art exhibition on and was still serving tea and cake.

30 ish miles to go and a few small climbs up to Balsham to keep us warm then it was downhill all the way back to Cambridge. I never really like coming back through central Cambridge, it’s way too busy for a country girl like me, especially when silly bus drivers shout at me for no reason what so ever !!

Anyway that is number 8 of my RRty done, it’s much harder than you think especially when trying to fit rides in around life, in general, for a while I did wonder if I could be bothered to continue especially as I am missing my running so much BUT calender events are booked for June and July, my running legs promise to return after September and it must be time for the sunshine rides now !!

Daffodil Dawdle (31st March 2019 )

As we put the clocks forward and jumped into summer it was time for the first of my run/walk events with my friend Gina, the LDWA Daffodil Dawdle, a circular scenic route along the Waveney valley, starting from Stradbroke.

Gina and I used to walk these 18-mile challenges, but as we saw more and more people running or run-walking we got the urge to try that ourselves.

The day started well as I bumped into a friend on my way to registration, it’s always a delight to see the amazing Sandie, who will be doing her own challenge for the Air Ambulance in July. Race to the Stones, a 100km walk along the Ridgeway.

By 8.30 after a quick cup of tea, a loo visit and a chat with Jayne who was in the kitchen, as usual, we set off on our way.

The challenging part is usually following the route because it is not marked out, you have to follow a written route sheet so it can be easy to miss your place when chatting too much !!. In the old days, a GPX file was not available but luckily for us, they now include one which certainly helps.

We had no set plan just run when we wanted and walk when we wanted, depending on the terrain, it’s amazing how quickly time passes when you are having fun, we seemed to reach the first checkpoint in no time at all.

The checkpoints and food are amazing on these events, you can easily linger far too long, but after a quick drink and some lovely homemade snacks we set off for checkpoint 2 promising ourselves a longer stop then.

Sandie was sticking to a training plan on this event and we kept playing cat and mouse with her along the route, which was always encouraging.

Arriving at checkpoint 2 feeling slightly hungry we were not disappointed with the food, after a picnic lunch, loo visit and a chat with Paul from Cambridge Rambling club we set off feeling happy knowing we only had approx 5 miles to do.

We had a good strong finish and arrived back in Stradbroke with nice big smiles,4 hours and 46 mins after leaving (moving time was 4 hours 14 mins.)

As usual, the finish food did not disappoint, homemade soup followed by crumble and custard, I was delighted to see Cathryn from Cambridge too so we had a quick catch up before we all departed for home.

Maybe Gina and I will attempt the 26 miles next year !!!!

Everyone Rides to Skeggy 300km Audax (13th April 2019 )

This Audax was on my list of things to do as Geoff really wanted to do it last year but for some reason, we were unable to do it, I expect I was running or something !!  Anyway, I was determined we would do it this year even though Geoff seems to have lost a little bit of his love for cycling !!

The Travelodge at Alfreton was booked for 2 nights to make it all a bit easier, and as we traveled down I was excited about doing our 2nd 300km event even if Geoff wasn’t.

We set our alarm for 4.30am and had our egg sandwiches ready for breakfast, I still find it far too difficult to eat this early in the morning but managed half my sandwich before we set off for registration at Alfreton house, taking a banana with me to eat before we started the ride at 6 am.

Richard Thoday
Richard on his Penny Farthings

 

We soon realized it was very cold much colder than we had anticipated, in fact, according to the BBC it had been the coldest April night for 6 years! By the time we reached the first control point in Newark, I was actually wondering if I was going to be able to carry on but after a bowl of the best porridge and honey I have ever tasted I was ready to face the cold again.

Next control point was at Woodhall Spa and for a short while we rode with a small group from Derby Clarion, the time goes much quicker when you have someone to chat with, they had great riding skills too, taking it turns on the front,unfortunately after a while we lost them going up a hill.

Next control was at Skegness, rumor had it that we would lose the headwind here which would be a relief ,it was on our way to Skegness that we met the amazing Richard Thoday , riding the 300km on a Penny Farthing, we arrived at Poppies Cafe together and spent time warming up over a bowl of soup and hearing about Richards record breaking challenge in July, riding end to end on his Penny Farthing hoping to break the world record set in 1886

Sally Kelly at Skegness sign
Welcome to Skeggy!

 

We left poppies heading for the information control at Sutton on Sea, looking forward to the tailwind, first we had to stop and get a photo by the welcome to Skegness sign, then it was on via chapel St Leonard’s spotting the Butlins big top tent on our way,but no sign of the sea! Our route instructions said to write down the information found at the public toilets.

In Horncastle, I thought Geoff would stop for our receipt at the local Garage especially when I saw other riders there but he sailed passed and we stopped for a warm up in Costa coffee, I didn’t find the soup very filling at lunchtime so I took the opportunity and had a very enjoyable Sausage bap.

Only 35km to Lincoln and lovely to see the cathedral on the horizon, in fact, this stretch was the best bit weather wise, here we stopped at the local Coop for our receipt, added lights and another layer as the temperature was beginning to drop again.

Lincoln Sunset

 

Next stop would be Alfreton, the longest stretch at 65km, all rode in the dark, I actually enjoyed this night riding, the roads were big and wide never feeling truly dark, the sky had a glow to it, unlike in the countryside when darkness is truly pitch black! Feeling cold we stopped off at the Mac Donald’s in Ollerton for a hot drink, shortly after leaving here we bumped into Richard again on his Penny Farthing so we continued down the cycle path next to the A38 together, I enjoyed watching him manoeuvre the Penny Farthing along the bridge over the M1

At midnight we rolled back into Alfreton house 18 hours after we left.

While getting our Brevet Card checked and enjoying yet another cup of tea we discovered, 2 things our route sheet was an old one we had downloaded from the internet, for some reason we had not received the up to date information through the post. So no information was needed from Sutton on Sea and the first man back finished 6 hours before us and had been in the pub all evening!

While I would like to do a Summer 300 I am not sure I will be able to persuade Geoff so it’s back to 200 km for the next 5 months!

Horsepower 200km Audax (9th March 2019)

At last a calendar event, an opportunity to meet up with like minded people and soak in all the amazing Audax stories!

We arrived in Great Dunmow with plenty of time to get our Brevet Card and have a coffee, it wasn’t long before we were seeing familiar faces and chatting with other riders we knew from Cambridge. The talk was mainly about the wind and how it would blow us out to Snetterton then would be head-on from Snetterton to Newmarket before easing up again for the last leg home!

It’s all Bananas

At 7.30 am we all gathered outside ready to go, I love the way complete strangers chat away to you like they know you, Audax riding is so friendly, after the first few kms, the group starts to spread out as we settle into our own riding pace.

Our aim was to try and get to the halfway point at Snetterton without a cafe stop, and with the tailwind, we were flying along, as we came into Lavenham the church looked very grand and always makes me think wow! By 9:20 nick was stamping our brevet card, after eating a hot cross bun I had in my pocket we set off for Snetterton.

Due to the tailwind, we made good time to Snetterton, arriving at 11.40, making it a very enjoyable ride but as we turned into Snetterton circuit we got a taste of what was to come. At Tyrell’s Restaurant, the service was quick and efficient, as we ate, we thought about the howling wind outside and watched as other riders set off into the wind.

40 mins later we ventured out into the wind, the wind so strong we could barely stand up straight. As we set off I thought once we get out of Snetterton and back onto the roads it would ease up but I was wrong! The strong head/ side winds continued all the way to Newmarket and were the most ferocious winds I have ever experienced, I learnt quickly to observe my surrounding look for gaps in the hedges and keep the bike in a low gear, it was mentally exhausting and at times out my comfort zone!

The religious experience

Just over 3 hours later we made it to Newmarket, by this time I was dreaming about a cafe stop out of the wind, so my heart sank a little as Geoff turned into the BP garage, but we soon had food and a receipt for our Brevet Card. We also found other riders here too, including Nigel and our quick stop turned into a 30 min stop as we chatted away.

As we set off again we realised much to our delight that the wind had dropped and we had less than 50 km to do, after spending most of the ride on our own it was nice to see other riders too and the time passed quickly as we played leapfrog along the way, getting a blast of Nigel’s music every now and again also lifted my spirits.

Before long it was dark and I got the chance to try my new Volt 800 light out, I had bought it as an extra light to use with my volt 400, mounting it on my handlebars so I could turn it on and off as needed, it worked really well and I felt much more confident riding in the dark, the roads were reasonably good so our speed did not slow down due to the darkness.

We had 3 choices for the final return to Great Dunmow , the main road, which could be busy, the valley road which may contain potholes , or option C which was slightly longer , originally we (or should I say Geoff) had plotted out option C but was enjoying the ride so much we decided to keep to the main road, with the others, in hindsight we wish we had taken the valley road as the main road was quite busy and we had plenty of time so think the valley road would have been more enjoyable.

Finally at 18.40 we pulled back into the St. Mary’s Centre at Great Dunmow, to be greeted with soup, rolls and tea, as usual, I felt quite “high” from such an achievement and enjoyed the banter with fellow riders, while discussing the ride, we discovered that a few others had actually been blown off their bikes by the gusts of wind, but thankfully no damage had been done.

So that’s 6 out of 12 ! and surely the good weather is now on its way, April’s ride is a 300 so that will be an interesting tale !

Cambridge Half Marathon

Where the months disappear too I just don’t know but somehow it was March and time for the Cambridge Half Marathon.

After recovering from my biking injury that had prevented me from running for most of last year I was looking forward to doing some running training ready for the Cambridge half, what I didn’t allow for was the continued menopausal hell ! and the fact that biking was the only thing for many months that made me truly happy !

After the Freethorpe 10 I really struggled with my running, everything became a chore, apart from riding my bike,then I decided enough was enough I wanted my life back so I gave in went Doctors and started HRT, suddenly I had my life back,I was sleeping through the night,I stopped hating everybody,(well almost everybody ?) but most importantly I regained my bounce, the zest for life and my confidence.

Finish line in sight

With only 4 weeks till the half marathon there was not much time for training but with a few 8 milers and a 12-mile slow jog along the coast, I went from thinking I would never do it, to thinking if I could bike 120 miles then I could run 13.

On the morning of the half marathon, Gina and Richard met me at Geoff’s and we wandered down to Midsummer Common hoping to find many of our friends who would be running, as like past years the atmosphere was amazing and it wasn’t long before the excitement started to build.

As I had no idea how my run would go I decided to run on my own, well as much as you can be on your own when surrounded by 10,000 other runners, just one reason why I love this event so much.

Before long we were all gathered into the starting pens, easier to keep warm this year as we had all been encouraged to wear an unwanted top that could be discarded as you set off, all items would then be collected and donated to the homeless.

Reunited with my glasses

The weather was cold with some drizzle, perfect running conditions, for some silly reason I made the decision to run without my glasses something I never do and it annoyed me the whole way round, I can see well enough without them but it just didn’t feel right and for this reason I just don’t like any of the free event photos as I just don’t look like me !

My favourite run at home is an 8 mile route which I run quite often,so the first 8 miles was easy enough, as expected the support from around the route was amazing, even nicer when it’s from someone you actually know, the water and gel stations were well manned and easy to get too, nice to see everyone aiming to get the used bottles into the bins, with the promise of them going for recycling.

Around the 10 mile mark I noticed the 2.15 pacers, I decided I would try and keep with them, by mile 12 I was struggling a little but was just in front of the pacers, then a call out from Geoff spurred me on,then,down the final straight a call out from someone else I knew made me stride out for the finish line,which I crossed with a time of 2.14, at this point one of the pacers tapped me on the Shoulder and told me he had followed my calf’s for a few miles and what fine calf’s I had, later I thought I should of told him they were cyclist calf’s.

I received my medal from one of my fellow Ladybirds which made the whole day just perfect.

Cambridge Shipping Lanes 200km Audax

February the month I hate most, having done 4 x 200km Audaxes we decided we just had to fit in a February one. We decided on a permanent event, Cambridge Shipping lanes 200km then we could choose when to ride it, unfortunately, weather stopped play on our preferred date so we were left with only one option, 16th February, the day before my Valentine 10km run, not ideal but it had to be done.

Luckily for us, the weekend forecast was clear mild and maybe even sunny.

Sunrise

We left Cambridge at 7 am just as the sun was rising, something I still find awesome, we thought we would try and get to the halfway point before stopping for food.

The route was very rolling and took us through some beautiful villages including the historic Lavenham, by the time we got to Hadleigh at 11 am I was feeling quite hungry so we stopped for breakfast at Huffers, we keep trying to cut our break times down on these rides but it was still 30 mins before we were on our way again.

Another hour and a half of lane riding followed by a nice fast stretch into Shotley and we arrived at the Shipwreck pub on the peninsular, neither of us were really hungry or needing a break but it was so lovely we decided to have coffee and cake while enjoying the view. 30 mins later we were on our way home, I always love the halfway point!

We or should I say I got the first puncture as we were cycling through the Royal Hospital, a very interesting looking place which is not a hospital as the name suggests! I thought it must have military connections as once you have lived on a military base you can spot them a mile off! A lovely man came to help bringing a track pump, he also told us the history of the place, how it was now a private school, had naval connections and how originally it was where all the naval orphans were sent to live.

Looking over to Felixstowe

Once on our way again, Geoff had a close call with a cat, who refused to move out the middle of the road then a deer almost took me out, the speed they run at was quite frightening, before long the sun was setting and the night time riding started.

Still a novice at this night time riding I tend to slow down a little and take my time especially when the roads are full of potholes, But we made it to Sudbury with no major mishaps, here we had our obligatory Audax Macdonalds stop, 30 mins seems to be our standard stopping time!

Just after Great Thurlow Geoff, had a visit from the puncture fairy, he was not happy especially as it was now dark, but with a bit of patience and using the spare tyre we were soon on our way, only for him to hit a hole further down the road and puncture again! This time he really was not happy, I recalled that in the write up I had read about the route, we would soon be at Balsham and it was all downhill from there, so I tried to comfort Geoff with this news but he was having none of it.

Running bling

Once we got going again my mind fixed onto the downhill into Cambridge and I am happy to say the roads improved and it was a fabulous ride back into Cambridge,interestingly the only hassle we had from other road users was from a Double decker bus as we came into Fulborne, for some unknown reason he had his hand on his horn behind me and all the while he was passing,we thought it could have been because He thought I should be on the cycle path!

I always expected February to be the hardest month for doing a 200km Audax but the weather was very kind and now I am almost at the 6-month point of no return for an RRtY….. I just have to keep Geoff interested and at home!

Btw the Valentines 10km run was the hardest run ever, my legs just did not want to work but I got my bling !!

Freethorpe 10

It’s the time of year when I am not sure if I am a runner or a cyclist. I tend to run more than bike as it’s a lot safer for starters and after my fall on black ice last January I am not taking any risks on my bike this year.

My running suffered due to my fall, as my side/back hurt every time I ran so I spent all of 2018 taking it easy.

Determined I would start 2019 with my favourite running events, I entered Freethorpe 10, Valentines 10km and Cambridge half marathon hoping I had kept some level of fitness from biking, surely if I can ride 134 miles I can run 13 miles!

Gina Linda & Sally at the start

Gina Linda & Sally at the start

Having just returned from Cyprus and having ran no more than 10km for around a year,I thought I had better do a longer run. So last week I set out to run 8 miles with a friend and much to my delight not only did I enjoy the run but finally after a full year I had no pain or discomfort.

Freethorpe 10 is quite an undulating route for someone that lives in the flatlands, but that adds to the enjoyment, today the weather proved more of a challenge, as not only was it cold but it was also very windy, especially on the more exposed parts of the route.

Then there was the dilemma about what to wear and I had to get the colour right. luckily I made the right choice with short sleeves and gloves, not that they stayed on for long!

Sally with her medals

Finisher Sally

I started with my friends, then after a mile we all settled into our own running pace, running our own race, happy to meet again at the end. Always good to see Geoff at the half way point with words of encouragement.

The route was well marshalled and they were great at shouting out words of encouragement. as I expected miles 8/9 were the hardest for me, especially as they were straight into the wind.

Anyway I was very happy to finish in 1 hour 43, with not even a twinge from my side/back, a few more longer runs and I might just be ready for The Cambridge Half on March 5th.

Cypriot 200km DIY Audax

As well as wanting to escape the greyness of England we thought it might be a nice idea to continue with our 200km Audaxes by doing one in the Cypriot sunshine.

Geoff found it quite difficult designing the route and it was soon decided that it would have to be an out and back with a few loops to make up the milage. In the end we settled with a route that was 204 km.

After 3 days of rain and storms, the worst they have seen for 20 years, a good weather day was predicted so we submitted our DIY Audax entry and hoped for the best ,we woke to clear skies,it looked the perfect Audax weather day.

Stunning views

We left at 7am just as it was getting light, the first loop through Paphos was a little irritating especially on a bike I was not used too, a cleat that was proving hard to clip in and the morning work traffic.

Once out of Paphos though we enjoyed the ups and downs of the coast road which bought many wonderful views as we passed Aphrodite’s birthplace .

Stalking the Army

Then on our way to the Episkopi we had to make our first detour due to the road turning to sand, great for mountain bikes but not lovely Canyon road bikes.

The climb up to Episkopi was made more enjoyable by the fit military guys running up the road,it was impossible to catch them !

Then it was on to Akrotiri where we had to make another detour when the road just disappeared into the salt lake.

Finally we made it into Limassol via the very busy dock road here we stopped for some food and to prepare for the ride back.

We started by meandering through Limassol’s busy city roads, the kind of riding I hate but we made it safely out the city thinking it would be an easy ride back along the roads we had come.

Where did the road go!

Most of the return journey was uneventful, just one detour due to another road turning to sand, more military Guys to chase up through Episkopi then a lovely sunset as we cycled back along the coast road by Aphrodite’s birthplace

Just when we thought we were home and dry, travelling at speed along the newly serviced road between Paphos airport and Paphos the unthinkable happened and Geoff had a fall !! There was a good gap between us and suddenly,I just realised Geoff was down,by the time I reached him he was back up but bleeding heavily. It soon became obvious that most of the blood was pouring out his nose,so once I sorted that the best I could,we decided to continue into Paphos,then stop and decide what to do. Luckily no damage was done to the bike.

Funnily enough the next suitable place to stop was a MacDonald’s, the other customers were quite shocked by Geoff’s appearance,we were asked if we needed any help but as his face only appeared grazed and his nose had stopped bleeding we decided to continue and finish our Audax.

So with the detours it ended up as 134 miles In13 hours 29 mins with one puncture and we are just hoping that Audax will approve these .

I was highly impressed with my Canyon bike not one ache or pain after all those miles .

The following day we paid a visit to the Doctors’s/ hospital where a broken nose was discovered!!!