Posts Tagged “cycling”
So it seemed like a pretty simple idea. Come up with a day route from Nottingham to York of at least 360km and then ride it in under 24 hours (with one little special rule that you had to control in the 22nd hour and do at least 25km in the last 2 hours) on good Friday. Should be easy enough shouldn’t it? I mean 2 of the team had ridden the hilly 400km brevet cymru last year in 21 hours in not brilliant weather.
So with January looking great for cycling we put in for 460km with a route that went Nottingham – Oakham – huntingdon – spalding – market Rasen – Willerby – Bridlington – Malton – Boroughbridge – York
Then March came around. Heavy snow and ice meant I’d barely been out on the bike (200 miles in 28 days is not much really) and it didn’t look like the weather was going to ease up for the easter weekend either. In fact the organiser offered the unheard of option of letting teams reschedule their ride for anytime before the end of April. We didn’t take up that offer.
Weather had started to look better in the week preceding, but we’d made contingency plans just to be safe. And then remade them as we learnt more about the arcane rules of easter arrows (separate post about those to come). So the 4 of us met up at Trent Bridge Inn for a hearty breakfast and the first of many receipts.
Getting out of Nottingham all felt good until we hit the climb at Harby where I discovered I couldn’t get into the smaller chairing. Oh well, mtfu and “shut up legs” seemed to work. But not a good sign for things to come
Quick atm control at Oakham and then off to huntingdon. Bit more rolling as we passed through southern Rutland. At this point mtfu didn’t work so it meant getting off and manually forcing the front derailleur across, not brilliant but at least I could spin up the hills. The wind was now starting to pick up and we had some drizzle in the air. Huntingdon was McD control
Now we turned into the wind and the flatlands of Lincolnshire. Mike after mile of straight flat road appeared. Blustery wind just off from the side meant that even attempting an Audax chain gang didn’t offer much assistance. Saw another possible arrow team heading in the other direction (later identified as the lost Waveney wanderers). I really started to feel the lack of miles on this leg. Not only was power lacking, but my stomach was cramping and knowing at itself, and despair was setting in. By the time we got to spalding I was in a bit of a state. Stupidly went for a sit down and coffee at a wetherspoons rather than the eating anything, and then wondered why I had a massive sense of humour failure about 8 miles out of spalding. Got talked out of packing and kept following the wheels.
About now we started getting the delights of sleet and hail, combined with some rather dropping temperatures. And then to top it off we started hitting some really bad surfaces. 2 of us punctured on the same pothole. Luckily we got some respite and coffee from a very charitable local.
Another humourless moment at Woodhall Spa was overcome thanks to the more experienced members of the team, and we ploughed on to market Rasen, and a surprise non 24 hour tesco. So we sort solace in a pizza place. A greasy 10″ margherita has never been so welcome. Now we set off for our Humber crossing. Due to the late hour we dropped onto the A15 for the last couple of miles of the approach to save the fun of route finding in Barton upon Humber. Crossing the Humber bridge is always fun even at night, and for once the wind had dropped off as well. Discovering a new shortcut for rejoining the A15 on north side was good as well.
The first service station at Willerby we tried refused us entry so we took our custom across the road, which involved some clamouring due the roadworks, but being allowed to sit inside for 30 minutes was well worth it. Suitably filled up on coffee and ginsta’s goodness we got out just in time to see another arrow team heading north with a cheery toot.
A rolling ride to the coast at Bridlington in the dawn light was a nice contrast to the night, even the road surface appeared to improve. Spent a mile or so riding along with a barn owl keeping us company for variety as well. By the time we controlled at Bridlington it was obvious we weren’t going to complete plan A, so plan C came out of the bag. Straight line to York, hopefully controlling at Stamford Bridge at 9:13 or before for our 24 hour control.
Quite a bit of rolling road of the Yorkshire wolds to get to Stamford Bridge, but with a tailwind for the first time in 17 hours we made the most of it. And a speedy descent of garrowby hill as well we made it to the coop for 9:09. A victory yoghurt was consumed and we headed into York for the breakfast meet up at the punch bowl.
So as I write this on the Monday I’m still in a bit of pain from some sore muscles, and there’s a little bit of numbness in my hands that I normally on get on 600s, but I expect that’s down to not having built up to this as usual (at 405km it’s the longest ride I’ve done in the last 8 months by nearly 200km). Hopefully the weather will stay nicer and I can capitalise on the fitness while it’s there.
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So deciding it was time to get back to some proper audax distance decided to head out for a 200km DIY audaxyesterday. Sub plot was to ride with the gentlemen I’ll also be riding an AudaxUK East Arrow with at the end of March.
This was going to be the longest ride I’d done since July (3 coasts 600km) given my abysmal August and end of year.
The weather was never looking to be brilliant. There was snow forecast for the Friday night and the temperature wasn’t expected to make it much above 0C. But the sunday was forecasting rain and winds, so we decided we’d rather brave a bit of snow and ice…….
To keep it vaguely sane we were going to use my Nottingham – Bourne – Woodhall Spa – Lincoln – Nottingham as it’s mainly decent roads. But with a slight detour to pick up one of our number from Bingham.
So Saturday morning came around and the steed was loaded up:
Snowy audax ahead
Roads to nottingham centre were a bit slushy, but they soon picked up on the main drags. We headed out on the A52 and settled in for a bit of a DC bash. Thought we’d cut through radcliffe for a bit of a break only to find it full of slush. All met up at Bingham (as is traditional, in front of a CoOp). Looking at the slush on the roads we decided we’d head for Grantham on the A52 and then pile down the A15 (anyone else spot the problem?). Made good progress along the A52 and got to Grantham in good time.
Took what we thought was the turning for the A15 only to find out we were heading straight for the A1. Yep, the mistake was not remembering just how far on the other side of Grantham the A15 meets the A52. A quick conflab over iphones and road atlas pages and we decided to just head down the A1 to Colsterworth. Only 6 miles, how bad could it be?
As tail end charlie it was a pretty tense 6 miles. The snow and slush meant there was no hard shoulder, and the drivers didn’t appear to be paying attention to the weather conditions. Thankfully the professionals in the big trucks were awake so we got plenty of room from them.
Happy to get off at Colsterworth and then a nice rolling ride to Bourne. Nice chat to a old chap while controlling, regaling us with stories of TTing back in the day, apparently he was capable of a 1:08 25, so definitely a step above us peformance wise. We didn’t hang about too much and headed off for Woodhall Spa
Just after the A17 crossing we hit a bad patch of road. Seemed like ages of carefully following wheel ruts and having to guess if it was just shiny or slippy. Noone went down, but there was plenty of dabbing going on. On particular puddle concealed a pothole about 6 inches deep, or so it felt as my front wheel disappeared. But the views more than made up for it. Bright blue sky with just a few clouds, and snow covered fields stretching off into the distance, and not even that cold. A bit more worrying creaking under the wheels and we were back onto reasonably sane roads. Got to Woodhall Spa and stopped in at Little Dorrits for lunch. They were happy to tell us that the Everyone rides to Skeggy 300 (Go on, enter here) organiser had been in touch to sort out control, so that’s the breakfast stop sorted for that ride.
Now came the slightly busier road bash into Lincoln. Few head winds along here, but mainly just rolling along at a decent pace. Quick stop in Lincoln for those who weren’t DIYing by GPS to grab a reciept and then pushed on for the final leg.
The roads from Lincoln to Newark were nice and clear, no real slush and no traffic. Was good to get to try out the new Cyo properly. Works a treat for those sort of roads, wider been that my old B&M Luxos iQ which is easier on the eyes. All was going well till the drop into Newark from Coddington when my front brake started making some very funny noises and didn’t seem to be slowing me down any. A quick stop in town showed a lot less pad left than I’d have liked, ie; I was braking metal on metal. Deciding that it’d be a stupid thing to change the last 20km with no front brake, I opted to jump on the train for Nottingham.
So I’ve still got the Audax jinx. That’s 3 out 3 for DNFs now, hopefully I’ll break this with the Rutland and Beyond next month.
But on the upside, it looks like I’ve still got some endurance left in the legs after the long lay off. 46okm for the Easter Arrows doesn’t seem to scary a target for 2 months away. And it’s boding well for getting up to full speed for London Edinburgh London at the end of July.
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So I’ve arrived in 2013 not quite as fit as I’d hoped I would be due to various reasons. Thought it’s not all bad, I can still bash out 20 miles in about 70 minutes without keeling over, and a better paced 60ish miles in 4 hours. But it’s a bit of a way from there to London Edinburgh London.
If time were no object I’d be fine. But I’m a reasonably busy job, an OU maths degree on the go and a lovely wife who’d much rather not be abandoned (and who’s agreed to me spending 116 hours on a bike, with a possibility of needing a lift from the wrong end of the country, so you can see why I’d like to keep in her good books :).
Work is only 2.1 miles from my front door, so I’ll have to be creative to get as much benefit out of the ‘free’ training my commute offers. So I’ve worked out 3 out and back loops of 10, 15 and 20 miles depending on where I turn. These aren’t the nicest of cycle routes, but due to leaving the outskirts of Nottingham I do get some nice traffic light free stretches so I can settle into a rhythym. I find it’s this ‘unobstructed’ route that’s the best for training, stop starting through traffic isn’t the greatest for distance training.
As I’m in work for 7am, this is going to involve a lot of 05:30 alarm calls. Luckily, I have shower facilities available at work which makes life a bit easier. On the downside I only have a Carradice Barley for luggage and no rack mounts on my current bike (and not necessarily keen on the idea of P-Clips), so I’ll have to occasionally swing back past the house to pick up a rucsac of stuff to take into work. And there’ll still be the occasional need to come straight home for some reason
So for the next month I’m going to try to use the commuting loops to build up a nice steady 80-100 miles Monday-Friday, and then try to get in at least a 50-60 miler at the weekend. I’m going to try to keep these at about 75% max HR if I can, as I think I still need to work on a solid base. And then head off for a 200km DIY by GPS at the end of the month hopefully to see if everything’s according to plan.
Then hopefully February will be a little lighter and I’ll start throwing some hills into the mix. LEL isn’t that hilly (or at least the northbound route wasn’t – Northbound LEL Diy) but I find hills slightly better for building up power and speed than other methods. Mainly because it’s less boring and I’m more motivated to do it :). So I’ll resurrect and old round the houses route in Nottingham that picks lots of short steep climbs, and probably look into reusing some of the Peak District rides I’ve done over the years.
But on the upside, I managed to get my entry in on Saturday morning. So that’s the first hurdle cleared.
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So that’s 2012 over and done with. Bit of a mixed year for my cycling. Overall my mileage was down this year to 4926 miles, giving a weekly average of 94.73 miles which isn’t too shabby. And looks even better when I remember I had 2 months with absolutely no mileage:
So nothing at all for September and October after my crash in August on the Mid Peak Super Grimpeur and an expected dip in May when I had some time off the bike to enjoy a wedding and a honeymoon :). December was a bit crap as well with a chest infection, a does of the Norovirus, ice on the roads and plenty of time celebrating. And despite claiming to commute to work by bike a lot the number of rides a month doesn’t really bear that out (though I tend not to log the direct 2 mile ride home if I’ve got to be back sharpish):
Audaxing wise it went pretty well. Finished off my RRTY attempt in February, got an AAA badge, completed a Super Randonneur series, and got a Randonneur 2500 as well.
So 2013 then. Already starting to make plans. The big ride this year is of course London Edinburgh London but I’m planning a sensible training/build up to it. Current thinking is:
January – DIY 200km just to get back into the swing
February – Rutland and Beyond 100km ECE’d to 200km.
March – Easter Arrow to York. This will be a bit of a change as it’s a Team event, which is a bit unusual for Audax. 3-5 riders form a team, sort a 24 hour route which finishes in York and then ride it. At least 3 members need to finish for it to be a success. Should be fun. And I’m not ruling out another go at the Dean either
April – Not sure yet. There’s nothing of the 300/400km and hills variety I fancy having a crack at, though there may be a few more awaiting with the next copy of Arrivee. Which means it might be a DIY bash around the Peak District.
May – Probably an ECE’d ride to the seaside on the Everybody Rides to Skeggy! from alfreton up to 400km
June – I want to do the 3 Coasts 600km again as I think that is a good trial for how long I’ll be able to push for on LEL. The terrain’s vaguely similar so it’ll be a good idea of if I can push a full 600km in 28 hours before resting, and if I don’t there’s the great hospitality to fall back on. And then for a final hill fix before the taper, I’m going to have a bash at the Pendle 600, 10AAA points across 600km of Northern England’s finest hills.
July – Nice and easy tapering, and maybe some TTing, but nothing too strenuous before the 28th
August – I want to have a go at the Old 240, but the date may be problematic.
After that I’ll come up with some more ideas.
Now to work out a training plan for that lot…….
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At the moment anyway. Had slightly longer off the bike than I’d planned, and it’s being extended by City Link’s inability to perform the sole core duty of getting parcels from A to B. However, somewhere in the country is a new front wheel which means my bike will be rideable again. Luckily it’s a nice Dynohub build, so just in time to save me a fortune on batteries across the winter months :).
Going to try and take it steady and build up a decent base over the winter. So lots of long 75% max HR rides. This will take some willpower to keep it all under control. I always find it hard to relax enough on some hills to keep it down, when I’d rather push on at the same speed. Must also make sure that commuter racing red mist doesn’t descend, the temptation to reel in the person in front (or more likely stopping them from getting too big a lead) is ever present.
Going to be doing a fair amount of core and flexibility work as well. I noticed when I started doing more stretching for a knee injury earlier in the year that I did feel better after a long ride. And it seems to be fairly common advice to build up the core for performance and comfort. Neither of these things immediately jump out at me and say “DO ME”, so I’ll have to find a decent plan that I will follow and keep up with it.
Hopefully that should get me back up to speed for January, and then I’m going to start pushing the distances up a bit earlier this seaon. This should make sure I’ve got an SR in the bag before London Edinburgh London. Would really like to be able to do LEL in long day stages with a nights sleep each night. Not so worried about the hills on this one as I was with Mille Alba. While none of them will be ‘easy’ with that sort of distance in the legs, there’s nothing I can remember that was gratuitously steep.
But anyway, here’s hoping that City Link work out what it is they’re meant to do as Saturday is looking good for a shake down ride!
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So I’ve not touched the bike since I got it home after my off, mainly because a fortnight after that trip to A&E I managed to break a big toes whilst washing up. But now with the new AUK season 8 days old, I’ve decided I’d better fix it up. A new shiny front wheel shall be ordered from Big Al at Wheelcraft to keep the wonderful rear wheel he built me company. Am planning on something with a Dynohub to save having to cart so many batteries around, and to reduce the reliance on bag drops and plugs on longer brevets. Not sure what light to pair it up with, thought a Cyo would be a shoe in, until I saw the Luxus with it’s built in USB recharging option.
As the accident put the kibosh on my RRTY attempt I think I’ll take it easy until 2013 and not push for silly long rides and just work on getting a decent base in, and possibly some speed work.
Next year is looking like a good year for some long rides. I’ve got permission and the time off work booked for London Edinburgh London, which will be the key aim. Would like to have got a full SR in before then to make sure the fitness is up, and a couple of extra longer rides wouldn’t go amiss either. Have broached the subject of the Super Brevet Scandanavia 1200 as well, and it’s not been shot down completely. Also the Pendle 600 might be on the cards as it looks like it might coincide with a trip to the Lakes anyway, and that would satisfy my climbing craving.
And in a slight regression I’ve started pounding the pavements of Nottingham again in a bid to keep my fitness up till my wheel arrives, though I am planning to keep it up over the winter in case it’s as bad as last year for getting out on the bike. Just need to get a few more miles in my legs before trying some of my older Nottingham running routes
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Wednesday saw another trip up to marple, this time for the Staffs Peak Super Grimpeur. After last times debacle I reckoned not cycling TO the event was a good idea, so accepted a lift up there. But the plan was to do the ride and then cycle back home making full use of the 14 hours allowed for a 200km BR audax.
It was all looking a bit wet, grim and windy when we turned up in Marple. That seemed to have put plenty of people off, as only 17 out of 44 entries started. It slackened off a bit while we had a quick coffee waiting for the start. At set off there was only a slight drizzle so I ditched the waterproof and off we went up by the canal locks. Soon we’d cleared marple and were up on the tops with a stunning view all the way across Manchester to the west with some blue skies mocking us in the distance. Settled in to the rhythm of the day with a fast descent down to Kettleshulme and then settling in for a long climb out. The ride up from Errwod Reservoir up to the A54 was alongside a very full River Goyt with plenty of smaller streams in spate on either side. Plenty of surface water showed that there’d been a lot of rain overnight in the area.
A great drop down the road to Glutton bridge, though slightly sketchy with a lot of gravel having been forced onto the road with the rain and lots of puddles with no visible bottoms. Climbing up to the traffic lights I could feel my right foot slipping on the cleats so I stopped to take a look to find that the bolts had both come loose. Quickly tightening them up I tried to catch up with Bob and Pete from Derby Mercury who I’d been riding with, but I’d not got the cleat back on in anything like the original position. So I had a quick sit down on a wall just after Longnor to sort it out properly.
The next few climbs felt great and I was really getting into my stride. This really reinforced the belief that my previous failure had been down to my inability to deal with heat and my hopes were high for getting in the 200km ride I needed for August for the RRTY. Dropped through Wetton and picked up the signs for Wetton Mill and the first control. Dropping down a nice wooded road trying to take it carefully with the water, gravel and other debris. Came round a corner to find a white BMW coming uphill doing the same. No problems, I’ll just tuck in a bit and we’ll pass each other. Except I hit some gravel and the front wheel went, I tried to throw the bike the other way and ended up bouncing off the car and going back over and landing on my left hand side, scraping down the road for a bit, with at least one big bang to my helmet.
All over so fast that I’d barely registered it as I stood up. The driver had stopped and was jumping out as well. A quick stock was taken and I appeared to be able to stand and move everything so most of the classic cyclists breaks seemed to have been avoided. But I did have a lot of blood pouring out of my left knee. Unfortunately my front wheel was beyond repair and the handlebars didn’t look too healthy either.
I hobbled down to the control where the controller kindly offered to run me and my bike back to Marple after the field had passed through. I scrounged a cloth from the cafe and went into the gents to clean some of the blood off. Then discovered just how deep the cut was and how much debris there was in there. So quickly replaned with the controller to head back to Marple via an A&E department. Buxton minor injuries unit fitted the bill and I was quickly ushered in. The flap of skin was declared non-viable so was cut off, and a couple litres of saline and judicious tweezer usage got most of the rest of junk out. But I was given a weeks dose of antibiotics just in case. Got back to Marple in time to catch the field finishing and tuck in to the spare sandwiches
So I’ve new handlebars and front wheel to buy. I was thinking of getting a dynohub wheel later on this year but not sure if the pennies will stretch to that at the moment. And I’ll move my planned month off up to now as there’s now no RRTY pressure to get a ride in.
So here endeth my 2011-12 audax season. Not too bad in hindsight as I got another super randonneur in, and extended it to an SR25 or whatever it’s called. Plus picked up an AAA award as well.
So a month off and then I’ll start prepping for next year. More AAA, another SR and the big challenge will be the 1400km London Edinburgh London.
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So the plan looked good. Get the first train from Nottingham to Cromford. Then cycle the 50km from Cromford to Marple in 2-2.5 hours. Then complete the Mid Peak Grimpeur 100km. And ride back to Cromford to get the train home. Hopefully getting home for an early night with tea and AAA points galore……..
Well, that came nowhere near to happening. First problem was when I realised the ECE leg to Marple was actally 57km, not the worst thing but it added to the pressue a bit. Then as I started climbing Via Gellia I suddenly remember that the Peak District has hills, which made those extra 7km particularly worrying as I was on a deadline. Not doing too bad by the time I got to Buxton, but started to flag a bit up Long hill, though thoroughly enjoyed the drop into Whalley Bridge. Got to the Costa near the start about 15 minutes early and got to finally eat some breakfast.
Rolled out mid bunch through Marple and onto Glossop along some nicely rolling roads. Snake Pass was a long drag up to the top with a wonderful descent to Lady Bower reservoirs only spoilt slightly by a set of temporary traffic lighs which I wasn’t quite fast enough to make it through. Good climb up along Bamford moor and up to the Stanage car park before a great free fall down to hathersage. The pool cafe was nice and speedy as well so I grabbed a cob and a coffee, and got back on the road. Though as I stood up I should have paid more attention to the cramp attack I got, first time in a long time I’ve had that on a long ride…….
Things started to go a bit wrong on the long climb up to the gliding club. Suddenly I’d lost power and was finding it hard to event turn over my lowest gear (ok, not that low at 36″, but still). Ended up having to stop and have a couple of minutes slupd over the handlebars before pushing on. Got to the pub for the info, and could tell my brain was starting to go as I began panicing about finding my brevet card in the Barley, never once thinking to check the usual spot in a jersey pocket.
Pushed on, but as soon as the route turned onto Horse Lane from the A6 I could just feel the legs weren’t happy. Had a 10 minute break sat on a wall in some shade watching other riders pass by, and then had another go. 100m further on and I could tell it wasn’t working properly. Knowing that I could head straight down a flattish A6 to Cromford and be at the station in 40 minutes pretty much sealed the deal, especially as I realised that as much as I’d enjoyed the descent of Long Hill on the way to Marple, I was going to have to climb it on the way back, So, I turned tail and headed for the train.
Looking back I think my main problem was the heat. This year I”ve not had much experience of riding in hot weather, and looking back I think this was much like how I was feeling on a 200k to Luton from Nottingham in 2011. This year i’ve been running on 1 bidon of sports drink/ribena and 1 bidon of coke (heh, it works for me). Thinking that I need to switch to ‘thinner’ drinks when the temperature heads north, probably moving back to water and Nunns (which would have stopped the cramps). Further proof of this was the funny looks I got as I spasmed in my seat with cramps as the train rolled through Derby.
I also need to make sure I bite off bite smaller chunks. The 3 sections of my rider were all rideable by me individually, but because I’d put too much effort into stage 1 I couldn’t move onto stage 2+3. It also shows that just because I’ve done a 300km with 5 AAA points (Yr Elenydd 2012) it doesn’t translate to doing a 100km grimpeur +100km ECE as there isn’t the time spread to allow relaxing on the first leg.
Also I’d put myself under some extra time pressure by needing to be back home by a certain time. I might have pulled it back if I’d have had an hour sit down inside somewhere.
Oh well, it’s put the RRTY under a bit of pressure as my only other ride option this month is the Staffs Peak Grimpeur in 3 weeks time, so that’d need turning into a 200, and it’s the hilliest of all the hilly Marple Grimpeurs. Will need to have a ponder, though I could be the only entrant hoping for cooler weather for it :)
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Can’t have been that bad as I’m sat at work with no real ill effects apart from having eaten lunch, and then gone out to buy another one as well…..
Keeping an eye on the weather forecasts in the week running up to the event it had been looking like a pretty good weekend, with the only fly in the ointment being stron Easterly, which meant that what was pretty much an out and back run on an Eas-West line was going to be 50% into the wind…
Rocked up on Friday night and got a taster of the care and attention we were going to enjoy from the Organiser and his helpers over the weekend. £5 for all you can eat catering was certainly going to be a good deal.
6am start on the Saturday, looking nice and bright outside. As the ‘peleton’ wound it’s way out of Mytholmroyd we got a sudden heavy downpour, which set the standard for much of the rest of the day weatherwise. A quick busstop control and another at fast grab at Castleford bus station and we were out into open country. The tailwind certainly sped us along, and we were sat in the Boathouse Cafe in Bridlington at 158km by 12:00!
Speedy turnaround of beans on toast and we set off into the wind. Working through and off with Bob from VC167 we made good pace to Malton where we skipped the tearooms in favour of a faster turnaround at a petrol station. I couldn’t hold on to the pace so dropped back a bit and after a few miles of soft pedalling pushed on a bit harder. Another stop in Thirsk for a sit down and forecourt snack.
Rolled back through some nice rolling country roads, the toll bridge from Linton-On-Ouse was interesting with it’s wooden topping. Was quite glad not to have a car sharing with me, as the weight woulnd’t have been a problem but all I could think of was cartoon style planks launching me over the side.
Extra layers and lights went on at Castleford before an urban run back to HQ. Coming through Sowerby Bridge’s nightlife was a bit of an eye opener, and the climb out on Hollins Mill Lane was an unexpected little grimp as well. Rolled back into HQ bang on 10, having recorded my fastest ever 200km (~8h) and 300km (12:07 (yes, I did notice it coming and was sad enough to be paying attention)) so the headwind can’t have been that bad. Made the most of the available food, and gladly took the couple of beers that were offered as well. Then off to find a bit of floor for a bit of kip.
Having plenty of time in hand I decided to make the most of it. So Sunday I set off at 6:00 again into a light drizzle……
It took me about 9km to get lost as I stupidly followed the wrong pink line on the GPS unit out of Todmorden, and only realised when I saw the roadsign for Hollins Lake and thought “I’m sure that’s the last control”. Oh well, only an extra 20km and luckily the retrace to Todmorden was with the wind at my back. Largish climb up and over the watershed to Burnley and then a drop down to Whalley before things levelled out for a rolling run across above Preston. And then a bit of urban cycling through BlackPool for an info at the North Pier, where I though I ought to take at least one photo at one of the coasts visited:
Bike at Blackpool on the 3 coasts audax
Can’t say I was too sad to leave Blackpool as the driving was of a pretty low standard. But the flat coastal run to Glasson docks soon cheered me up. Felt like being closer to home in the Fens. The Lantern O’Er Lune at the docks were quick at serving up the obligatory Beans on toast and I didn’t dally there too long.
Now came the part of the ride that gives this version of the route it’s AAA points. It was also about here that my front mech decided that it didn’t enjoy shifting down onto the smaller chainring. Thankfully there wasn’t too much gratuitous steepness so the expletives as I forced my way up some of the steeper bits weren’t too loud. By now the wind was behind us and the weather had improved so we got some marvellous views off the tops. Followed by some great descents on the return to Whalley.
Retraced the route we’d taken out from Tod in the morning, and then I got to follow the route I’d mistakenly followed earlier on in the day. Grabbed a car park ticket at Hollingworth lake as the visitor centre looked shut and I didn’t fancy the pub (well, I did fancy the pub, just not queuing there). Dropped back to the valley and then started the long grind up Blackstone Edge. Nothing too horrendous on the gradient, but it was just a slog with 590km in the legs. But then we dropped onto Cragg Vale for 8km of downhill rest, and were back at HQ. Finished at 18:15, so a bit slower than saturday, but still good going for hills and tired legs.
The organisation of the event was brillant thanks to Chris and his team. The routesheet was clear and easy to use on the road, and on the sofa when I was doing the GPX tracks. Accomodation available before, during and after the event for those who needed it, so it made the logistics a lot easier as we could head up on Friday night for no extra cost. And as much food as you could eat was a great feature, certainly got my moneys worth on toast and pasta over the weekend.
So that’s a 2nd audax goal for 2012 achieved as well, as I’ve now got one of the shiny new Super Randonneur 2500 awards for doing rides of 200,300,400,600 and 1000km in one season. And as a bonus all the events have been AAA.
Hopefully the legs will recover nicely before 8th August when I’m off to the Peak District for one of Peak Audax’s Marple Grimpeurs, the Mid Peak 100 to be precise. Which hopefully I’ll ECE up to 200km.
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So I’ve now got this years Super Randonneur award sorted, and as a bonus it’s AAA as well (Dean, Yr Elenydd, Brevet Cymry, Mille Alba) so that’s one target out of the way for the year. Now to convert it into one of the shiny new SR2500′s or whatever they’re actually being called with a 600km ride. And I’ve decided to keep it all AAA as well. So that left the only the 3 Coasts 600km as the only real calendar event left for me to consider this year.
Looks like a good route, and I like the idea of cycling right across the country twice in under 40 hours. Plus we get to see the sea a couple of times which is always nice. A proper sleep stop, food included and a number of proper controls as also a big incentive.
Not had to plot a route for a while as I’ve been a bit spoilt with organisers offering good quality gpx tracks to work with. But it doesn’t take that long to work throught the route sheet on the laptop, and here’s the result:
The legs are of slightly strange lengths, but each ends at a control. The length was based on how long I had to work each one out.
They can be downloaded here:
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 1
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 2
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 3
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 4
Hoping that some of the fitness from Mille Alba has hung around, though I’ve just had a week off the bike with some knee pain, but different knee pain from before MA. If it has I think I’ll be trying for an earlier finish on the Sunday so I can get a train back to Nottingham that evening. Should be doable if I only grab a short sleep stop.
Now I could just do with getting back on the bike without some knee pain. New shoes have been purchased so should be broken in by then. Don’t know if I’m brave enough to try breaking in a new saddle in a fortnight though….
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Well stories like this are one of the main reasons – http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/communities/heaton/2012/04/21/tyneside-vicar-s-death-sparks-changes-to-heaton-road-72703-30809512/
No fault from the driver? For overtaking where it wasn’t safe to do so? For not allowing enough room when overtaking a slow moving vehicle? Assuming that speeding is the only offense a driver could commit that would endanger another road user?
Coroner David Mitford is a bloody idiot:
- If Mr Strong had waited 2 minutes, Mr Malleson would still be alive.
- If Mr Strong had looked ahead to see what was happening on the road ahease, Mr Malleson would still be alive.
- If Mr Strong hadn’t forced past while the road was obstructed, Mr Malleson would still be alive.
I make that at least 3 actions of Mr Strong that killed Mr Malleson. But as usual, as he killed him with a car nothing happens.
And the helmet issue is a red herring, cycling appears to be the only form of road use where I’m meant to wear a piece of supposed protection which won’t protect me properly in the event of someone else’s fuckup. Do we blame the victim when a original mini is crushed by a larger vehicle? Surely the mini driver could have upgrade to the latest greatest 4×4 with a safety cell? Which still wouldn’t have protected them, so why are cyclists singled out for having to mitigate YOUR fuckup.
 – note for the apoletic idiot driving silver Peugot FE03OWH on Mansfield road on the 9th July, the legal minimum space to give to any road user when overtaking, is 3 feet, not 8 inches.
Update: This link – http://www.stop-smidsy.org.uk/case-study/reverend-michael-malleson-died-after-being-knocked-road-narrowing-heaton-newcastle-301111 – has been bought to my attention. And it appears that we now let the police decide on who’s at fault. Erm, I was under the impression that that was a job for the coroner and the courts.
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Now that Mille Alba‘s over I’ve been thinking back over what did and didn’t work on that ride, and what I want to change or do better for London-Edinburgh-London next year.
Saddle – Worked for most parts, but I think I need one that tapers in quicker. Main rear end parts appear fine, but I’ve got some small rubbed spots on the inner thigh that I’m basing this one on. So this is definitely some I’ll be swapping out before LEL, though probably after a 600 at the end of July to give me time to break it in. Debating between a Brooks (which seem very popular), or a thinner version of my current San Marco.
Bike – I would like something with a sligthly longer top tube as the current one feels a bit cramped. And I would like a slightly ‘suppler’ frame (steel or titanium probably), but this is all dependant on money. I don’t feel as though this is a make or break issue though, so if I can I will, if not no problems.
Lighting - My main front light, a B&M Ixon is starting to play up (appears to be a switch issue), but when it works it was fine. But riding with people with dynohubs and Cyos has made me jealous of the amount and quality of light they were enjoying. So if money becomes available this is where it’ll go before spending on the frame. Will also mean I don’t have to lug around USB battery backs for the GPS as well.
Luggage – Carradice Barley worked well as normal, again with a dry bag toe-strapped on top to hold a full mountain weigth waterproof in case of the predicted weather. Will try to cut down the amount of crap I carry, as I’m sure I didn’t used everything in there. May add a small top tube bag or bar bag to make eating on the go easier, I can reach jersey pockets (unless wearing waterproof), but everything ends up bruised or bashed, or there isn’t enough in there.
Navigation – The Garmin worked well most of the time. Powering it had a few interesting moments, though I think that’s down to my new TeckNet battery being slightly too intelligent and cutting power once the unit’s charged. If I get a dynohub it’s a shoe in for LEL, if not I might consider an Etrex or something that takes AAs. Will be getting a routesheet holder though as it helps out when the OSM map isn’t 100% clear enough. Resetting the tracks every 250km helped as well.
Footwear – On days 2+3 I started suffering from pretty bad hot foot, having to take time off the bike to take shoes off rub my feet. 2 weeks on and I still have some slight numbness in certain spots. Pretty certain this is down to shoes that aren’t particularly stiff and not having a decent insole. So an urgent purchase is a new pair of much stiffer shoes with a good footbed, or a chance to put a good quality one inside.
Fitness – not too shabby if I do say so. My main problem is the very steep hilly sections, which take me a long time to get up and then a fair while to recover from. Thankfully having riddent a bit of LEL it isn’t as steep as Mille Alba, the worst bit is probably the long drag over Yad Moss each way, though after 500km everything feels steeper :). Will just carry on with RRTY for the rest of the year, a few more AAA events and maybe throw some speed work over the winter to raise my average up a km/h or so.
Sleep – Reasonably surprised how I was function on about 7 hours sleep over the weekend. Don’t think that would necessarily scale up for another day or 2. But as I said above LEL should be more conducive to a higher moving average which gives more time for sleeping. I’ll also try to have rested better the fortnight beforehand.
So my priorities are:
- Shoes – will sort before the 3 coasts 600
- Light – Gone back for warranty replacement, hopefully back for the 600
And the rest will just follow hopefully.
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And finally the time to ride this came around. Not really the best time for me, having had 4 weeks off the bike due to a knee injury and a honeymoon, I managed to get in 130 miles the week before and then a couple of short commutes in the run up to keep the legs turning over but nowhere near the miles I’d planned.
Just for reference, the official GPX routes are:
Leg 1 : http://ridewithgps.com/routes/821123
Leg 2 : http://ridewithgps.com/routes/821143
Leg 3 : http://ridewithgps.com/routes/821158
Leg 4 : http://ridewithgps.com/routes/821163
The drive up to Inverkeithing from Nottingham on Thuirsday wasn’t the most inspiring or relaxing way to start this enterprise. Horrendous weather all the way up the A1(M) didn’t exactly fill me with confidence, but did reassure me that lugging a full 3-ply mountain Gore-tex jackets as a backup to my normal lightweight shell was a good idea. With the traffic and what-not, I didn’t get to the Scout centre till about half 7. I grabbed my bunk in the dorm, where all that was left was upper bunks. Picked up the paperwork, medal and jersey (so no pressure there to finish it) and settled down with a couple of plates of pasta bake to carbo load before an early night. Thank the $DEITY that I bought ear plugs and an eye-mask.
Rolled out my bunk at 6 to start getting everything ready for the 7am start. Discovered a missing nut on a rear mudguard stay, but after the fun on the Brevet Cymru I had a spare so sorted that before the off. Bang on 7am we headed off out for the first leg:
- Mille Alba Leg 1a Elevation graph
Nice rolling start, mainly in a largish group to the first control at 32km. Then some more rolling through the drizzle as we headed along the side of the Tay estuary. Lots of nasty wash off on the road in places, but luckily everyone was good with shouts for gravel and I haven’t heard of anyone coming a cropper. Got caught by a camera here, though not at my best:
Me on Mille Alba, taken by David Martin
I don’t believe that I felt as bad as that photo makes me look, though combined with some of the later ones as well I’m starting to get the impression that I’m probably not the most stylish looking rider on a bike, thinking more Bag o’ spuds.
Got to Newport-On-Tay and thundered across the Tay road bridge. Was a bit strange with the cyclepath running straight down the central reservation between the carriageways. Got the to far end and had to use the lift to get down, I got confused about which doors were the one that shut so someone else had to point it out. Went for a nice tour along the back of Dundee docks to find the way out of town, and started ascending
The first proper control hove into view at Forfar after a quick circuit of the one way system. Angus CC were manning the control and doing a stunning job. Hot soup followed by jacket spud with cheese+beans did the job, and the tea pot seemed to be in continuous circulation. Stocked up with some cereal bars and banana for the next leg from the ample supplies.
From here it was upward towards Cairn O Mount, that rather obvious spike in the elevation graph above at about 150km. This was a nice wake up call. Had to stop after the first major section to take off wet weather kit and helmet as I was overheating. At this point I discovered that somehow the retaining pins for my front brake blocks had gone AWOL!!! Luckily braking forces them against the stops, and I’d noticed when I’d applied the front brake and leant backwards pulling them the wrong way. Not an amazing discovery on a ride this hilly (what goes up slow, comes down fast), neither was discovering that the spare packs of blocks and pins were 100 miles away at base rather than in my Barley. Decided the best course of action was to get over the top and see if I could find anything at the next control in Banchory. Finished the climb to discover a stash of Haribo kindly left by the organise, and then got ready for a descent only using the rear brake.
Luckily Banchory has a nice helpful bike shop, Banchory Cycles who sorted me out. Now started the long climb up Glen Shee. 50 miles of continuosly uphill gradient! First stop off was Braemar where a small curry/pizza takeaway was awash with Audaxers filling up on the necessary lard for the climb. The braver riders were having a curry or Jalfrezi Pizza, I played it safe with fish and chips.
To stop the Garmin dying again at the 320km mark I reset it here, so it’s time for another elevation graph:
Mille Alba Leg 1 section b Elevation graph
Leaving Braemar it was straight back into the climb as it rose up to the Ski station. But once over the top we had a fast downill section all the way to Perth 40 miles away. When I say fast, moving average from Braemar to top of climb was ~16kph, and that rose up to 24.2kph all the way to Perth!. Another takeaway control in Perth (see Audaxing is good for your health, it’s just the enforced diet that isn’t). Not sure what went on with the graph as I don’t remember descending to 200m below sea level.
Yet more rolling road back to base. We joined up with the route out at a roundabout, the small grupetto I was in kept gong but I did hear of some groups starting a second loop before they realised. Back to Fordell and the helpers made sure we were fed and watered (including beer if wanted!) before retiring to bed.
6:20 alarm call for a 7am depart on day 2. Made an attack on the mountain of breakfast stuffs on offer, including the first of many cheese and mushroom omlettes. Out the door for 07:10 so not too bad there.
Mille Alba Leg 2 section A elevation graph
A very windy ride across the Forth road bridge started off this stage. Then a slightly confusing route through Edinburgh and down to the shoreline before escaping through Musselbrugh and up onto the hills. Quite a bit of flooding along these roads, got more blase about riding through as the route went on. Stopped for a 2nd breakfast in Glifford before the main climb kicked in. Some tought 17% climbs and we were on the tops in sunshine. A fast run down into Berwick and then we turned.
And so did the ride. A rolling road straight to Galashiels into a headwind. At this point I gave in, put the headphones in and got through the section with some loud rousing tunes to turn the pedals over to. Not helped by having my only 2 route finding errors on this section. 1 meant about 2 miles climb backup a hill, and the other I worked around by TTing (for a certain value of TT) along a main A road. Galashiels marked the halfway point at 532km. Another manned control providing all the home comforts and crewed by Audaxers who knew exactly what was needed and could cope with people barely coherent.
Mille Alba Leg 2 Section b elevation graph
Unfortunately we kept the same heading as we left Galashiels, so we got to enjoy the wind a bit more. Yay. Along the banks of St Mary’s Lock till I got to Cappercleuch where I was too late to grab a tea from the village fete. Turned right ready for a large climb and ran into another group so we ‘teamed’ up for the next hilly section past the reservoirs. Quick info control where we got eaten by Midges while we found a weight limit and then to Biggar for a sit down and food. First chip shop I’ve been in that hasn’t got any chips, so settled for just a piece of fish. Looked like it would be quite a lonely place to control after we left as the chippy had appeared to be the only place open, and that locked up as we departed.
Not much climbing and we were soon up on high looking at the approaching lights of Edinburgh, before we dropped down to see them disappear and then come back up. Chain decided to come off on this section so I got split from the group while I faffed with it, but caught them on the descent into Edinburgh. This was good fun with decent gradients on clear roads with good sightlines even at nearly midnight. A bit of threading through industrial estates and we were back on the Forth bridge. Soon back to base where the helpers sorted out all the food. Back a bit later than planned thanks to the wind, but still allowing for a couple of hours sleep.
Getting out of the top bunk 3 hours later was not a fun way to start the morning. Body and Soul needed some hard loving to get them moving with anything like humanity.
Mille Alba Leg 3 Elevation chart
Thankfully we started off gently along the Firth of Forth with a partial circuit of the Stirling ring road. Somewhere on the run in to Stirling I’d started hearing a louder than usual creaking noise from my left shoe, but had decided to ignore it, now looking down I noticed that there were rather more splines showing on the BB spindle than I’d like to see. Thankfully a hollowtech can be sorted with a couple of allen keys, though a tired audaxer finds it hard to remember to undo ALL the bolts before pushing the arm back on so resorts to bracing the crank against a lamp post and giving it a kicking!
Eventually it was all sorted before a steady climb on the road to Comrie I’d been told this was one of the wonders of Scottish audaxing, and while it was very pretty another unrelenting headwind didn’t instill it into my good books. The descent into Comrie was good fun though, and food at the cafe reset the spirits. Bit more of a windy struggle along the banks of Loch Earn and the we turned up Glen Ogle. This section of the ride I knew from visits without the bike, so I’d always fancied a go up this nicely graded climb, unfortunately I forgot about the 200km to go after the climb but had fun on the way up. And then more fun on the long swoop down to Killin. Soon came the bottom of the climb up to Ben Lawers, which looks innocent enough:
Ben Lawers climb start
But it soon rears up through the woods. And then keeps going once the trees run out. It’s a long steep drag up to the reservoir, it’s the obvious spike on the graph at about 80 miles. This climb didn’t do much for my “sack of spuds on a bike” look either:
Me Climbing Bew Lawers by MartinB
But I made it up the top. Had to have a break as by now the Hot Foot was getting so bad I needed a foot rub. Descent down the otherside was phenomenal, though the gravel and sudden drop on one side did keep the speed to sensible numbers. A regroup and refuel took place at the Bridge of Balgie Post Office/Cafe, where we were treated to a wonderful cyclists special of soup and cream tea, marvellous.
Rolled out along the beautiful Glen Lyon and a bit of a mainish road bash to Aberfeldy. The sun decided to make up for it’s absence over the last couple of days by coming through strong and hot, and the fora decided to join in with a pollen chorus which meant a quick attack of hayfever for me. Stopped for starters in a rather nice eatery in Aberfeldy before starting on the climb out (the nice steep line at about 100 miles). Then a nice rolling road to St Davids, only one slight navigation error along here as we were chatting and enjoying the road and sailed past a turn. Amazingly we’d actually gone wrong uphill, so retracing was painless. Though I needed another stop to sort my feet out.
St David’s was an oasis of an AUK run control. Shoes were barred, so I got plenty of rest and air for my feet. The food came hot and fast. Am now a convert to Macaroni Pies, just need to find somewhere in nottingham that makes them and I’ll be set. As well there was a mechanic service available for those little niggles, unfortunately internal frame motors weren’t available.
A few more hills and a fast run in through the outskirts of Dunfermline and we were back at Fordell. Finished? Nope, there was just the matter of a small 70km finishing loop to get to official BRM distance. Thinking it was better to MTFU and GiD, after another omlette and tea it was back out into the cold night for a final loop:
Mille Alba Leg 4 Elevation chart
At first this felt like a bit of sadism on the part of the Org, but once we were out of the towns and up on the tops it was a delight (though I may have questioned someone’s parentage on that sharp spike just before Falkland). Dawn came as I hit 25 miles so I rode the rest in the daylight. Looking back it would have been a nice loop to have ridden in the daylight, but I was worried about loosing time or puncture eating into margins if I’d left it till then. I managed a sudden spurt on the last section as I realised that quite pointlessly I could finish in under 70 hours. And as that seemed to make my legs feel lighter, that’s just what I did.
Finished just before 5am on the Monday morning. And celebrated with a bottle of beer and a fried egg sandwish, and a stagger to bed.
Stats for the ride:
Official distance – 1017km
Distance Ridden – 1042km
Total time taken – 69:53
Time Riding – 46:43
Overall average speed (official/Ridden) – 15.3/14.9 kph
Moving average speed (official/Ridden) – 21.75/22.3 kph
I managed about 7 hours sleep over the weekend at fordell, with most of the rest of the time not moving being spent eating or staring into space at controls.
This was an excellent introduction to the 1000km distance, and also to cycling to scotland. A lot of this was down to the huge amount of effort put in by the organiser and the 60+ helpers he had organised to look after us on the way round.
I learnt plenty over the weekend, and have some ideas on how to improve on my distance riding, but those can come in another post.
The only people who don’t get a thank you are the midges, who despite only coming out to play for about half an hour over the weekend did this little number on my legs:
My legs post Mille Alba, bloody midges
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Well, the AAA man has spoken and Mille Alba is now officially rated as a 12.5AAA event!
So that’s more climbing than doing the Dean, Yr Elenydd and the Brevet Cymru 400 back to back. Knowing how knackered I was after each of those, this is going to be a fairly tough ride.
Not really done much training unfortunately as I picked up a knee injury just after the BC400, for which the physio recommended some stretching and some rest. Luckily the rest came naturally as I’ve just got married and we decided to have a relaxing honeymoon in Positano, so plenty of sitting on the beach for rest (though the steep streets were probably not the best idea).
Went out this morning for the first time in 3.5 weeks and managed 75km without too many problems, so hopefully it’s going to last in a couple of weeks. Will be following the ride reports from this weekend’s helper’s ride with great interest.
Training for the next 2 weeks will remain light. Will try to get a couple of 100km rides in, but don’t really have time to get anything longer in and recover properly.
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In keeping with this season’s idea of trying a few hillier audaxes I’d dropped an entry in for Yr Elenydd. This is the new version of the long running Elenith event under the stewardship of a new org (John “U.N.Dulates” Hamilton). I never rode the original, so this was all going to be new to me. Just from the outline it was obvious this was going to be a bit of a challenge, 305 km with 5000m of climbing out and back across the middle of Wales, including the Tregaron Mountain Road with it’s reputation for some seriously steep sections.
Weather forecast was for a cold start, brightening up through the day with some very light showers before getting colder in the evening. On that basis I decided on spring weight 3/4 bibs, SS top with arm warmers and winter gloves to start with. As it would turn out, this wasn’t a great idea.
Set off was 6AM from Upton Magna village hall. We were let off in 3 bunches to avoid too much of a bunch on the initial lanes. The ride started off nice an benignly so I could get some heat into my legs. There’d be a quick briefing about a ford at the off, unfortunately I’d misheard and ploughed through the first one expecting it to be shallow, cue 2 soaking feet (I’d decided to leave overshoes off till I needed them). Oh well, they’d keep till the first control I thought. Soon things started heading upwards and downwards, but nothing too horrendous. Then the rain arrived, in slightly larger quantity than I’d been expecting. Again I thought I’d leave off putting the waterproof on till the control…..
First control was at Shobdon airfield, which meant we got to eat beans on toast looking over this lot:
View from Shobham control on Yr Elenydd
Tried to do the best I could for my feet with napkins, hand towels and the hand drier in the gents. Finally put on the overboots and my rain jacket and headed back off out. The big shock on this section was seeing the amount of snow on the hill tops, this was worrying as I’d not been expecting that and was a bit scared about the affect on temperature as I was dressed a bit skimpily. The rain kept coming but with some of the bigger climbs appearing that was soon ignored. Crossing over into wales with a little more fanfair than on The Dean (they even had flags!). First big climb was up past the Fforest inn, not too bad though I was shown up by the gentleman on Fixed who pulled away up the hill nicely, then followed by a nice fast drop into Bulith Wells for a free control, catching up with another rider towards the bottom. Almost went for a CoOp cash machine receipt till I remembered that they don’t put the location on them any more, so went for a Snickers instead. All of which was a bit pointless as the Org happened to be in there on his way to the next check.
5 minutes warmth in the CoOp we headed off. Rolling route out along the A483 (A road bashing is completely different in Wales to what I’m used to in the East Midlands). In Beulah we turned right and started up a smaller lane. This started to rise steadily through the woods with some good twists and turns, until it opened up to reveal this:
Tregaron Mountain Road approach
Which is just the sort of road you dream about riding on an Audax, but I knew what was coming at the end. After a few ups and downs we arrived at the next checkpoint at the foot of the Devils Staircase, which announces it’s presence with a nice little road sign:
Foot of the Devils Staircase
This ramps up nicely to 25%, then 2 hairpins before easing off to an easier 10% or so. Unfortunately I was caught out on the main ramp when my front wheel lifted and I decided I’d rather bail than topple. Then the road keeps going. This it the Tregaron Mountain road. There’s 3 major climbs each of which is a major struggle in itself. But the reward is a hugely fast swooping descent down into Tregaron when the ladies of the Tregaron Bowls club were waiting to feed us.
I was glad I’d stuck with just a soup as the climb started almost immediately we’d left the control. What goes up comes down, and this was a good swooper on decent surfaces to Pont-Rhyd-Groes (bridge of the ford of the cross), and then we started climbing. This all went fine till we turned off onto the B4574 and the gradient ramped up a little too quickly for me. A quick break with a hot cross bun and back on it. Over the top and we dropped into another perfect valley:
Home of the Cybermen
This wasn’t as tough as the Tregaron road, but it felt like it just kept going. And then round a corner I suddenly realised there was a big climb to get out of the valley, but once done meant we’d crossed the highest point on the ride. Another great swoop down good roads. I’d seen the video of the gent who’d had a high speed interaction with a sheep, and with the little fluffy buggers scampering across the road I can see that you could quite easily come a cropper. This section also not helped by a reasonably strong headwind either.
Cake and coffee in rhayader and back on the road. On this section I came very close to throwing my Edge 800 into the nearest hedge (though it’s more OSM’s fault). The road on the map isn’t in the right place, so the unit kept trying to route me down every unpaved road it could find to get me onto the track, and I couldn’t find any way to override this behaviour. Some dragging of roads on OSM is on my list of things to do this week. No nasty climbs on this section, but a lot of graded A road climbs.
Next control was an oasis of warmth at Wheelwright Inn. Good stew and Apple Crumble revived the soul. Walking out into a heavy cold downpour soon removed that feeling. All that was left now was a climb over Long Mynd, just what we needed after 250km. But try to the Org’s description we then had 20km of descent/flat back to the hall to ease the legs. This section would have bee slightly more pleasant if my Ixon IQ hadn’t kept deciding to switch modes randomly. 30mph on a dark descent is not the moment for your light to go into less than full beam mode.
Got back to the Village Hall dead on 10, so 16 hours overall. Pretty happy with than as it’s about the same time I took for The Dean, so being efficient at the controls does pay off. The finish also came equipped with cake, Pasta and soup which was marvellous. And finally getting my feet dry and warm again was wonderful.
Definitely hardest single day in the saddle so far, but it’s one I’ll certainly do again.
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So it was time for the year’s rides to start getting a bit longer, and I had a strange hankering to actually get some points for climbing hills (a couple of rides have had enough “up”, but the orgs didn’t want to scare people off with AAA‘s). The Dean has always had good write ups, so I decided a trip down to Oxford was in order.
Shared the obligatory cheap Travelodge family room the night before. Even braved the Holiday Inn bar for a couple of pints, though at £8.50 for 2 Guinness’s it was a little steep for my liking.
Even restricting the beer didn’t stop the next morning being a very foggy start. Loaded the bikes up and cycled the 150m to the start, where the Brevet cards were being handed out in a very efficient manner. The usual high octane start of an audax occured when the org announced “It’s 6, you might as well go” and we gradually decided to head off.
The first stage was nicely rolling to Stow-on-The-Wolds, though a lot of the nice scenery was obscured by some pretty thick fog. And it was a bit nippy out. I had to stop to dig the full finger gloves out from the barley and then wrestle them on with frozen fingers. We climbed out of the fog a couple of miles before the control and a glance over the left shoulder showed us climbing out of a valley filled with fog. One of those moments when I really wished I had a small camera to carry on audaxes.
First control was forecourt stop at Stow. Fortified myself with a milky bar and a larg cappucino. Decided to load up the next section of the route, and managed to calm the rising panic as I realised that somehow I’d managed to only load sections 1,3 and 5 on to the Edge. So I was missing half the ride, and didn’t even have the fallback gpx track that I’d thought I’d put on for emergencies!! It was also at this point that I rememebered that the 3 copies of the routesheet I’d printed out were still sat on my desk at work, double d’oh.
Thankfully audaxers are nice people and I found people to follow on almost all of the remaining sections where I needed. The next section had the occaisonal patches of fog, but it was disappearing. Things started to get more rolling on this section. Though nothing too horrendous. Some of the descents on offer were a bit nervewracking for a nervous descender like me.
The next control was Newent. A plate of beans on toast to refuel the engines. By now it was a proper sunny day so moving took a bit longer that expected as I warmed up. The next section had a few more hills, but wound through the Forest of Dean, so there was plenty of shade and fairly quiet roads. My only problems here were that using OSM maps my edge kept trying to route me down the trails. The final drop down into Chepstow was a good fun, and then it was joining in an audax picnic at the side of Tesco’s petrol station to enjoy a feast of their finest sandwhiches.
Bit of a steep climb out of Chepstow, but then onto the cycle path over the Severn bridge and back into England. Rolling for a bit, but then the section reared up to the Somerset Monument. This was a bit of a challenge after a 100 miles of so. Managed to grind my way up to the top and then it was a reasonable roll into Malmesbury where the square was full of cyclists. The traditional visit to a CoOp gave another sandwhich and recipt, and we retreated to the Market Cross to eat.
The next section had a couple of steepish struggles up past the Marlborough Horse and the Hackpen White Horse, an info control that we’d all been waiting for (and I was told not to use that joke again on the day). Started to get cold again, there’d be a very cold patch in an unexpected dip in the road, and was a bit of a shock to come across those descending from Hackpen hill. Started to get dark along this stretch, but managed to make it to the next control at Membury services without having to get the full night kit out.
Seemed strange to be controlling on a cycling event at a Motorway services, but they had coffee and inside chairs so I wasn’t complaining. Rumours abound that Hugh Grant was spotted filling his car up, but I didn’t see anything.Wrapped up warmer here and put the new batteries in the lights for the last section. Got on some fast wheels here who knew exactly where they were going, and a good pace was kept up. Glancing down at the GPS I noticed we were whizzing along sections at 28-30kph on the flat, probably why my legs were hurting a bit. A nice flight through Oxford and we were back at the Peartree services, completing the ride by buying red bull and crisps to eat on the forecourt.
Overall time was just a smidge under 16 hours (12:05 hours moving). So a little slower than I’d wanted, but I felt great at the end. Remembering how I felt after the ride to skeggy last year (and how badly I’d felt a month earlier trying a 200) I was impressed how I felt at the end. Looks like getting the miles in is starting to help. Didn’t feel too bad the next day either which is good. Hoping this is a sign of a bit of form, hoping it holds on for the next ride which is Yr Elenydd in April, 300km and 5AAA!!!
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I was contacted by a rider looking to plan a long distance charity ride in memory of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster. With his permission I’m posting up parts of his email, along with my answers. Hopefully they’ll be useful to others as well. And if you’re thinking of planning something similar then please get in touch. Work and cycling mean I may not be able to give you a perfect route, but hopefully I can help you through the technicalities or offer some suggestions on roads
So on to the email:
> Im pretty new to cycling, having started properly in October last
> On April 13th, 14th and 15th, I’ll be riding from my home near Norwich
> to Liverpool, via Sheffield to raise money for Hillsborough
Sounds like a good ride for a good cause. I’d offer to meet you for the section across lincolnshire and nottinghamshire but I’m booked in for a 300km Audax in wales that weekend.
> Up until now Ive been using an Edge 500, but today I’ve just ordered
> an Edge 800.
> So all the mapping stuff is foreign to me (I’ve not even used courses
> on my Edge 500 due to some bugs).
It’s a bit of an aquired taste, it’s taken me a while to get used to.
> I’d like to ask your advice on a few things if you don’t mind?
> 1. Do I need to shell out for maps, or can I get by with OSM?
You should be able to. I tend to us OSM for almost all of my routes. The problem is that they’re only as good as someone else has made them. When I’ve encountered patchy areas I’ve had to decide whether I can get by with a little note, or would be better off with the Garmin maps I got in the bundle.
> 2. What do I need to do to get OSM set up (I have some spare micro SD
I use the pregenerated OSM img files from http://talkytoaster.info/ukmaps.htm which also has instructions to install them. It makes some of the later steps faster if you install them on your local machine as well as onto the micro SD card, that way when you’re playing with the route you don’t need the edge plugged in, and you’re not slowed down by the USB connection either.
> 3. What is the best software / website to plan my route and then
> transfer to the Edge 800?
> 4. What is the best process to do so?
Going to do both of these together as they fit together:
For a long route I find that Google Maps set to walking mode is the easiest way to get a basic route. For instance your basic route looks like this: http://g.co/maps/y66f2
I’d then look at the route at a large scale an pull it off of obviously main roads (this depends on how happy you are on big main roads, I’ve cycled bits of the A1, but don’t really like doing it for long stretches. The street view is good for this as it gives you an idea of whether the roads a Dual Carrigeway and if it’s got a cycle lane or wide shoulders. So with yours I’d be avoiding the A17 across lincolnshire as it’s not pleasant in car let alone on a bike - http://g.co/maps/mwrjg
Also I’d check how much city/town cycling there is. Going through a big centre can be stressful and slow, so I’d rather skirt round.
Then I go through at a higher magnification checking what the smaller roads are like. Google has started routing down some fairly marginal trails recently and a bit of street viewing can prevent a trip up a mud track in the dark.(http://Bikehike.co.uk can also be good for this as it shows the OS map of the section of google map you’re looking at, so it’s easy to spot footpaths and bridleways.
I’d then use one of the online tools to convert a google map route to a GPX track. I prefer Google Maps Cuesheet - http://winthefight.org/cuegle/
While that tool gives you the option to send a route straight to your Garmin, with OSM that might not be the best option as any slight differences in the map will confuse the routing on the device. The way I prefer is to take the GPX file and import it into Garmin Basecamp.
In Basecamp make sure you’ve selected the right map, and then right click your track and select Create Route. If it asks you how many points to use, try about 100. Then comes the fun of finding the oddities, this is a post explaining how I do it - http://napalmgram.co.uk/wordpress/index.php/2011/04/12/converting-gps-tracks-gpx-to-routes-for-garmin-edge/.
Eventually you end up with a nice route which you can then send to your Garmin
Its sounds a lot of work, but it’s a couple of hours and it saves a lot of time when you’re actually on the road
> 5. Anything else I should be aware of?
Make sure the bike fits you well.
Practice with the GPS and routing a lot before you rely on it. There are a lot quirks, so get it wrong when you’re not relying on it.
Keep eating and drinking well throughout the days.
Take it steady. If you’ve got the HR strap for the Edge it comes in handy as you can make sure you’re not pushing yourself too much. I find that about 65-70% of max HR is a level of effort I can keep up for a long time.
Get a rechargable battery pack to keep the Edge running for long days (the battery normally only lasts ~10 hours, I’ve got one of these – Tecknet 5000mAh USB rechargeable pack
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Having fixed my drivetrain problems I decided it would be a good idea to get some hilly riding in before the Dean. With some decent weather forecast for the weekend I decided that heading for the Peak District was good idea. Not been out that way for a couple of months as I’ve either not had enough time or have been worried about getting caught out by the weather.
I worked out a cut down route based on last years ill fated first attempt at a DIY by GPS that should fit into the 5 hours I had spare. But in a fit of very un-audax thinking I couldn’t be bothered to get a virtual brevet for it, so this hasn’t been officially proven, but autoroute OKs it.
The control points I ‘used’ were:
- Jaggers Lane, Darley Moor
Autoroute gives this as 100.6km on shortest distance around that lot. The route I took round them looked like this:
It’s a reasonably quiet route. Even the main roads out of Nottingham are reasonably quiet. Rolling roads to Belper and then the proper Peak District hills kick in. Birchover Lane is a very steep little number, I ended up have to walk about 2 meters of it as there was just no traction to be had. The descent from Bichover through Stanton Lees is very fast, but some of the corners are very sharp so be careful. The climb out of Darley Dale is a bit of a struggle, the signs reckon 20%, but that’s if you don’t get the line wrong on the hairpins. Once that’s over it’s a nice rolling ride back to Nottingham.
I made the route 1650m of climbing from my Edge 800, which should qualify for AAA points. But until someone submits it to the AAA man there’s no guarantee. The profile looks like this:
My ride of it went pretty well considering I’m still trying to find my legs this year. The only bit I had to walk was as mentioned above due to lack of traction. That’s pretty good compared to last years attempts. I’m still slow on the climbs, but that can hopefully be improved. Looking forward to getting over to the Peak District a bit more this year, now I’ve got some reasonable pace on the flat I can get over there without wasting too much time. And I’ll give that DIY from last year another go, just to make sure it gets ticked off.
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Been experiencing increasing amounts of chain slippage and shipping over the last month or so. But I’ve been putting it down to muck and grime rather than anything else. It eventually got to the point where the bike was pretty much unusable and I had to cut a ride short. Had a better look and various drivetrain components had obviously seen better days. A quick order was placed with Spa Cycles who kindly overnighted me the required bits, and this morning’s ride to work was a wonder of slick shifting, quiet pedalling and solid engagement.
Chainring after 7500 miles
Think the image above shows the fact I should have done it well before now quite clearly. The silver ring is the new one from Spa and the black one is the worn FSA one that’s done ~7.5k miles. That’s some fairly major wear to my eyes.
At least I can now stand on the pedals with confidence again. Was starting to worry about having to the whole of The Dean sat in the saddle!!
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So after the debacle that was the 2012 attempt at Rutland and Beyond I was in need of a final 200km audax to round off my RRTY attempt. So some quick playing around with Google Maps and I came up with a 200km using the following controls:
It may come up slightly under distance on google maps or AutoRoute as I actually started it from my front door slightly to the north of nottingham city centre, but it’s not far off so picking a slightly different starting point than Google’s definition of Nottingham will bring it up to scratch.
A little dragging of the route off of main roads or known awkward junctions I came up with the following (taken from my ride gpx, so ignore the slight directional anomaly into the suburbs of Derby, the Edge 800 doesn’t have the ability to compensate for idiots yet.):
Reasonably fast run out to Ashbourne with some lovely low hanging mists over the fields. Got there slightly too early for any of the Cafes to be open so had to hang around for a bit. Slight muppetry at tutbury as I blindly followed the GPS to end up climbing the same piece of dual carrigeway to find a cash point for a physical PoP. The passage of Burton-on-Trent was interesting, though I did like the long climb out, but I’m a bit strange like that. Back on to quieter roads going between Leicester and Loughbrough. You can tell the weather’s improving as I sat on the pavement in Oakham to eat sandwiches, wouldn’t have been doing that a couple of weeks earlier. From there is was pretty much a straight run back into Nottingham on familiar roads, nicer to do them in a bit of light than it was on the the January 200 the month before.
Everything validated nicely. Which means I can now send off the bits to claim this:
Which nicely rounds off my first 12 months of Audaxing :). I’ve got rides entered for the next 6 months, so now to see if I can build up enough of a head of steam to keep going through next winter as well.
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