Category Archives: Biking

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. 

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 !!

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!

Cypriot 200km DIY Audax (17th January 2019)

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!!!

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…………

 

 

DIY 200km Audax (29th December 2019)

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 (17th November 2018)

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 )