Suffolk Coast and back 200km Audax (21st Sept 2019)

At last, the 200km Audax that would complete my RRTY and in what promised to be the best weather conditions you could wish for.

Geoff stayed over at my house as it was easier to get to Carbrooke from mine when the alarm went off at 5 am my first thought was no more early starts in the cold winter months ahead. We arrived at the start in plenty of time, which was a good job as Geoff had a problem with his iPhone/Wahoo mounting on his bike, thankfully he soon had it sorted and we set off with the other riders at 7.30 am.

The rising sun was a bit annoying as it was straight into our faces but I soon had a much bigger problem, for some reason my Garmin lost the route and as usual Geoff who always likes a fast start was off like a rocket, fiddling with my Garmin and trying to keep up was just too much and I soon lost sight of Geoff and the Group he was tucked behind.

When I reached a junction and had no idea which way to go I decided I had better phone Geoff, just as I was explaining that I had lost my route 2 guys came by  I asked Geoff to wait and I would follow on behind. A few mins later we were reunited and I thought I would reload the route at Diss. Geoff continued to ride like a bat out of hell and I soon lost him again and for a few mins I actually thought about turning around and finding my way back to Carbrooke , then the same guy as before came by me and I just decided to follow him although a while later I had a quick panic when I suddenly thought he might not even be doing the audax, anyway after a brief chat and me explaining my situation he was happy for me to follow him to to the first stop in Diss, where I found Geoff happily eating a cheese scone and drinking his milkshake !!!

Geoff seemed to be in such a hurry that I barely had time to eat my scone and certainly no time to reload my route or even finish my cup of tea …..by this time I had found my cycling legs,it always takes me a while and we made our way to Orford in the lovely sunshine, with it being such a lovely day the cafe was busy but it was nice to sit and enjoy the scenery and have a chat with a couple of the other riders including the Guy from Stamford that had saved my RRTY.

From Orford, it was 90km to the next info point, we stopped 3 times on the way, at Snape, Harleston, and Wymondham so Geoff could get drinks, The pub at Harleston was especially nice, in fact, the whole route was very scenic, with lots of lovely Churches along the way I was disappointed that I didn’t stop and take more photos especially of the setting sun but as my Garmin never re-found the route I was very wary about letting people out of my sight.

I loved the last 16km from the info control, I may start off my rides steady but I always finish strong, I enjoyed chatting to the 2 guys who Geoff had been chasing at the start, seems they are 6 months(I think) into there RRTY and always enjoy riding together for company.

Anyway, all ended well and in case you are a Garmin hater, my problem was user error, in my panic to re-load route while cycling and trying to keep others in sight I loaded the wrong route !!!!

Mildenhall Festival Randonnee 200 (24th Aug 2019)

August was going to be a busy month and trying to fit my 200km Audax in was always going to be difficult, the timing was never going to be perfect. Last year we rode the Mildenhall 300 and enjoyed the route so much that it was decided we would do the 200 even though it was only a week after finishing the Lap of Anglia.

Weather conditions were perfect, the kind of day I have dreamed about while doing the last 10, 200km Audaxes, I just hoped my tired legs were up to it! We arrived nice and early with plenty of time for a cup of tea and a chat, we were also meeting up with Ms G who was joining us on her first 200km Audax.

I was expecting a nice gentle start but Geoff had other ideas and went off like a rocket, then my Garmin froze leaving me no way of knowing the route and putting me in turmoil not knowing whether I should stay with Ms G or chase Geoff !

I decided as Ms G was a confident rider I would chase Geoff then reset my Garmin at the first cafe stop, my legs were still tired after the previous weeks 500 miles but I did catch Geoff and just about managed to stay with him. My Garmin was easy to reset once stopped at wally’s cafe, I now felt much happier knowing I had the route to follow but it was certainly a very stressful start.

We all left Wally’s cafe together but it wasn’t long before Geoff was pushing the pace again,  we arrived at the Angel cafe 97km from the start with an Avg speed of 15mph by this time I was ready for my beans on toast.

Once on our way again it became clear that Geoff had totally worn himself out and for quite a while I was very concerned, it was a long 24km to Wymondham but my lovely friend Jayne met us there with Cold drinks, cake, and painkillers for Geoff, we rested there at the market cross for a while, I was happy to see Ms G still going strong but suffering slightly with her eating.

Once again we all left together and mainly stayed together all reaching Swaffham in one piece, Where Geoff devoured 2 bowls of ice cream and a double espresso! Ms G was still having trouble eating but she managed some teacake, needless to say, I devoured my Tea and cake.

I love the ride back from Swaffham to Mildenhall I remember it well from doing the 300 last year, Geoff had got his second wind, and Ms G was going to finish her first 200km so I could relax and enjoy the last 50 km, another grand day out on the bike and only one more 200 to get my RRTY.

Suffolk Lanes Extravaganza 200km Audax (20th July 2019)

In 2016 we rode the 100 miles of Suffolk Lanes Audax and enjoyed it so much we thought we would do the 200km as part of my RRTY, the weather forecast was for thundery showers but this was not going to put us off.

Not quite such an early start which is always good for me when riding on a Saturday but as we arrived in Bildeston at 8 am we were greeted by a heavy shower of rain, luckily it had blown over by the time we started at 8.30.

I reminded Geoff about how he hates starting off at the front and how its best to let the faster guys go tearing off first, a mistake we made on our last Audax, so we hung back for a few minutes then had a good start alongside Fixie Mick Ady and Jayden all from my TTT rides and Simon from Cambridge CTC.

For us, it was a very fast start as Geoff was determined to keep up with Fixie mick, at one point I almost lost them. We stopped at traffic lights and while I was helping Simon out the lights changed and the others were off like a bullet while I got caught by the lights again, then I had the dilemma of should I try and catch them or hang back with Simon, in the end, I decided to try and catch them. Just when I thought I would never catch them I found Geoff waiting at a junction for me and before long we were back in the group. Making it to Halesworth and the first coffee shop with an avg speed of 16mph.

Everything was going smoothly, in fact, I was very impressed with Geoff he certainly rides his Fixie much better than his geared bike! Then just before we reached Orford, I got a puncture, which meant we lost our little group as I told them to go on because we could hear the thunder in the distance. It took 2 attempts to mend the puncture as we discovered one of the new inner tubes had a split near the valve, by this time the thundery shower had blown over and we realized we would never catch the others up.

Shortly after getting our card stamped at Orford Geoff got his first puncture followed quickly by 2 more, luckily Simon who is an expert on puncture repair helped us out, combined with the help of a car driver who happened to have a track pump in his car !! We never did find the problem, although it could have been the cheap inner tubes, anyway, it was solved by using a liner in the tyre where it kept puncturing.

After all this Geoff had lost some of his enthusiasm but once we reached Framlingham and re-fueled we continued on our way with Simon, finishing the ride with no more dramas !!!

Interestingly it was the highest avg speed for Geoff on a 200km so he definitely does better on his fixie, due to the faster pace I only took one photo, at Orford, the rural route was  beautiful especially Orford Castle which is the only castle I saw out of the 3 we were meant to pass on the route !!!

This Audax was number 10 out of 12 for my Audax RRTY, next month it will be the Mildenhall 200km ….. after I have done the Lap of Anglia. 

Clare to Bury challenge and LDWA Wolsey Waddle

Back in May, Gina Jayne and I did the 18 mile Clare to Bury challenge, We almost missed out on this event, it filled up so quickly we had to go on the waiting list and I suspect it was a case of who you know not what you know that secured us a place !!

We all met at Clare country park and got the transport to Bury ready to start at 10.30 am, we usually do LDWA events where you have to find the way from a route sheet although I always have the route on my Garmin which really helps if we go wrong. This time though the route was going to be marked so we didn’t have to worry about route finding

The route was definitely undulating and it was often hard and rutted underfoot, but the Suffolk countryside was beautiful and the checkpoints and refreshments were always welcome. Towards the end, my feet did start to hurt a little so I was more than happy to see the finish line, once again I was amazed at how enjoyable this run/walking can be and we were soon planning our next goal !!

Which turned out to be the LDWA Wolsey Waddle, at 20 miles this would be our longest run/walk to date, just a shame that Jayne could not join us.

On the week running up to the event, we had many e-mails about route changes which left me feeling apprehensive but on the day it all worked well, the route sheet as always was well written and easy to understand and of course, we have the Garmin just in case !!

The route was lovely although surprisingly boggy along the River Orwell, so we were forced to walk this stretch as we didn’t want to slip on the Algae. The other surprise was finding all the Elephants in Ipswich.

The countryside was truly at its best with many fields of beautiful golden corn which all seemed to have a splattering of poppies and wildflowers thrown in and of course, an LDWA event  would not be the same without the wonderful food and cheerful marshals at the checkpoints, I especially liked the glass house although if it had been a warmer day we may have boiled inside

The other great thing about these events is seeing all the people I know, and this time a real surprise was seeing a dear friend I had not seen for what seems like years !!

The ground was kinder to my feet this time and I had no problems with my feet so I was relieved although I must still sort myself out with some wider trainers.

As always great food at the finish, and I bumped into Justin Smith a runner who I follow on Twitter, his blog makes an interesting read too.

So what’s next with the running, once I get this Audax challenge finished I have the  George Munday 10km, St Neots Half and a 26-mile run/walk.

Solstice Sunride (22nd July 2019)

I have wanted to do a night ride for some time now and I always thought we would do the Dunwich Dynamo, then Geoff discovered the Solstice Sunride, the logistics of this ride made it very appealing, you start in Cambridge at any time you want with the aim of getting to Lowestoft for the 4.30am Sunrise. The only cost is for transport for you and your bike back to Cambridge.

The plan was to get up on Saturday do Cambridge Parkrun, potter about for a few hours, then aim to start the ride around 6.30pm, after a late afternoon snooze, needless to say, the afternoon snooze did not happen, I put it down to excitement !!!

We started the ride with 2 fellow lappers, Julie and Darren and had a most enjoyable ride out to Mildenhall with them, passing 2 more lappers  Stephaine and Brian, on the way, it’s amazing how you recognize people by their riding style. Julie and Darren then went off to visit family while we carried on to East Harling and the halfway stop.

As we had made such good time to Harling social club, we stayed for longer than we usually would, but by 11 pm was eager to be on our way, so after adding a few more layers of clothing, and checking our lights we made our way out into the night.

We expected to be much slower on the second half of the ride, but our eyes soon became accustomed to the dark, by this time the roads were quite empty, so it was an awesome experience to be riding at night on roads just perfect for night riding, with Matt Darey blasting out from Geoff’s Bluetooth speaker.

After a while, we passed by someone at the side of the road putting on a jacket, as we sped past I thought I know that man !! Shortly after Aphid, another lapper caught us up at a junction, the 3 of us continued the ride together, by now we were well ahead of schedule again so we made our way to the 24hr Mcdonalds at Gillingham arriving at 1.25 am.

After a hot drink and chips, we continued on our way 45 mins later with just 10 miles to go. Usually, when you arrive somewhere at 3.15am you would expect the place to be deserted but due to Lowestoft having its new 24-hour First light festival it felt quite amazing to be pedaling down to the pier dodging tons of people.

We spent the next hour hanging around waiting for others to arrive then we enjoyed a bacon roll and coffee while we watched a beautiful sunrise before catching the transport back to Cambridge, wishing we were riding back !!!

Totally awesome ride with a route perfect for night riding but neither was prepared for just how cold it gets during the night on the East coast with an N/E wind…….

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 PBP. 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 traveling 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 6am

Richard ThodayWe 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.

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.

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 maneuver 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!