Category Archives: Audax

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 !!

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 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 !!

Epic end to 2018

Happy to say 2018 ended on a high with a 200km DIY Audax followed by a 60-mile ride with Cambridge CTC, followed by the Ely NYE 10k run.

This was far better than the start of 2018 which saw me having a fall off my bike on Black Ice, this caused me a great deal of pain and put me out of action for many months… even now I still get a niggle in my side when running!

With some care, a few painkillers and lots of determination, I still managed to do all I had planned for and more in 2018, including Cambridge half, riding in Mallorca, Walking in the Dolomites, the Lap of Anglia, run/walking 18 miles, many 200km Audaxes, a couple of 150-mile rides and an epic 300km Audax.

The most amazing thing to me is that I have achieved all this while suffering from menopausal hell !!!!

My next big goal is to get through January and February without taking any risks in the bad weather and icy conditions which are inevitable !!!!

My recorded Miles for the year are (approx)

6,340 Cycling, 465 Running,151 Walking

I have many plans for 2019 so exciting times ahead…………

 

 

Another 200km Audax

Amazing mild weather for December so today we grabbed at the chance of doing a DIY 200km Audax.

Geoff did a great route which took advantage of the tailwind, which helped blow us home, he also chose perfect roads for the night time riding.

There is something special about riding in the dark, especially when most people are still asleep it’s also beautiful to see the sunrise.

Anyway, that makes three 200km Audaxes in 3 months and now I am wondering if I can keep it up for an RRtY, if so the next one has to be in Cyprus !!

Four Min Mile 200km Audax

As many people will know I love Audax riding, especially long Audax rides, I read all the write-ups about the various rides and admire the riders who do the super long rides which involve night riding, I often wonder just how far I could ride !!

My longest Audax is the Mildenhall 300 km which did involve a couple of hours in the dark but apart from that I have little experience of night riding.

Just recently I have started to ride with the Cambridge CTC, rides which I really enjoy, many of these riders are experienced Audaxers so I enjoy their company the stories they have to tell and soak up all the advice they give about long distance riding.

Nigel and Yasmin were planning to ride the Four min mile audax and while Geoff was out on a ride we were invited to join them, when he mentioned it to me I grabbed at the opportunity especially as I know no other women that like to ride long distance.

After the initial excitement wore off I realized it would be a hilly ride, as we went over the Chilterns not once but twice and  many hours would be spent riding in the dark so I would need a bigger saddle bag to carry a jacket and a better rear light, while I sorted the bag out I sent Geoff out on the hunt for the rear light

So the alarm was set for 5 am on Saturday 17th November and armed with our egg sandwiches for breakfast we met Nigel and Yasmin at the train station for the 6.24 train to Stevenage.

After collecting our receipt in Stevenage we were on our way just after 7 am, the outward ride to Oxford was lovely with perfect weather for the time of year. I especially enjoyed riding through Woburn and seeing all the beautiful autumn colors, we arrived at Iffley Stadium in time for Lunch, the choice of food at the cafe was disappointing but the stadium and Roger Banister memorabilia made up for the lack of choice.  The runner in me was drawn to the running track, shame I didn’t have my running shoes but I did have a little jog !!

An hour later and we were on our way again, deciding to take a detour down Oxford high street before heading back to Stevenage via Chesham and Welwyn Garden City. Having never been to Oxford it was a very impressive High Street.

The aim was to get over the Phoenix Cycle trail near Thame before dark, as the rumor was it had some bad road surface in places. I was very happy we got over it before dark as the surface in place was horrendous with cracks so big you could have easily disappeared down one if not seen.

Onward we traveled up and down, then along another cycle track that ended with a steep slippery narrow exit, Nigel made it out but the rest of us got off and walked and that is when Geoff discovered a Puncture, by now it was quite dark, which made changing a puncture very interesting, Geoff opted to change the tyre so didn’t have to look for the offending flint/thorn, after a good 30 mins the puncture was mended, with a helping hand from Nigel who had returned after noticing we were missing.

We were happy to be on our way again heading towards Chesham, and a much enjoyed Costa coffee. then it was more climbing and more downhills, along narrow twisting lanes, which made for challenging riding in the dark, a tip from Nigel was to keep my Garmin on the elevation screen so I could see what was coming. By the time we reached Welwyn Garden City my arms were aching from gripping onto my handlebars so much. 21km left to go back to Stevenage train station, better roads made for easier night riding and we rolled into the station and collected our last receipt with 30 mins to spare.

Not the best route for night riding and maybe better the opposite way round but then we would have missed the beautiful scenery around Woburn, but definitely a great calendar event to do.

All in all a great adventure with good company and it certainly has not put me off night riding.

( Thanks to Nigel for the Photos )

Saucy Suffolk 100km Audax

I had completely overlooked this Audax ( Thanks to my friend Sue for reminding me! ) so it was a last minute entry and what a good decision it was.

It was a fresh cold morning when we left home for the later than usual start at 9.30am, with fog lying in the valleys but the sunshine was forecast for later in the day.

Arriving at Debenham nice and early we had time for a coffee and a mingle with the many other riders all out to enjoy the predicted beautiful Autumn day.

The route was a figure of 8 so any new riders to Audax could do a shorter 54km while more experienced riders could do the full 100km. Tea and cake were at the church in Debenham at the halfway point, all money going to the local school, very good cake it was too!

A great ride on a perfect Autumn day although a few too many stops for us but that’s probably because we are used to doing longer rides.

Good to be back out on Annie after my short but sweet love affair with the Pinarello in Mallorca.