Audax Easter Arrow to York 2013

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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