Audax 2014 – 200k – Oxford countryside cyclequest

I’m trying to ramp up my Audaxing earlier this year and get some longer distances in before full summer. So, off on a 200km specially designed to avoid country lanes and taking in 3 British Cycle Quest locations.

It was very much a ride of two halves (though not that obvious from the speed graph):

The first 100k or so, I had a nice tailwind and no problems. As you can guess, the second half was straight into the wind and I suffered saddle sores and dehydration!

The water problems were strange. I didn’t feel particularly thirsty for the first half and only drank about a quarter of a bottle of water, then the thirst hit me and I got through the rest of that bottle and the whole of the 1 litre bottle in about 40km. It was the point where I was dreaming of having a cold coke that I passed a petrol station and decided I had to go back to stock up. Good job I did as I drank all the bottle of coke and another bottle of water I bought and still ended up feeling rather thirsty by the time I got home. Must ave been the headwind and heat of the afternoon.

The Cycle Quest took me to some rather nice locations:

Streatley golf course, where, unfortunately, I couldn’t find the answer to the clue and no one there seemed to know anything about signs in the car park.

Streatley golf course

Then Great Coxwell tithe barn:

Great Coxwell

and finally, the monument outside Fawley (as well as some curious horses)

Fawley monument

Fawley horses

If I say so myself, the route was excellent with very few bad roads aside from excessive traffic between Aldershot and the A33 in both directions. The sections that particularly stood out for me were the A417 from Streatley and the A338 to Great Shefford. Both sections were wide, smooth, pretty much deserted and had brilliant scenery. The only problems were a couple of closed bridges that required diversions. The first a daring sprint along the A33 dual carriageway and the second more A4 time trialling. I don’t usually mind dual carriageway riding, but the speeds seemed very high on the A33 and I was glad to get off it despite having a small hard shoulder to ride on. On the return route I though I’d try the same bridge again, hoping that the work had been finished. They hadn’t and I was annoyed that diversion signs only appeared about 100 yards from the bridge. However, I saw some cyclists coming the other way and clambering across, so I thought I’d give it a go. I made it, after much lifting the (rather heavy) bike over railings and pushing it over mounds of rubble with a couple of nettle stings for my trouble.

At this point, about 30km from home, with saddle sores and facing heavy traffic into a headwind I was feeling quite low. However, I got a break and was caught by a roadie at the start of the B3011 near Wellington Country Park. I managed to take his wheel reasonably easily and had a good pull over 10km at a pretty good pace.

Saddle sores are still frustrating me, but with the new saddle etc, they are now in a more manageable place, bang under my sit bones. Hopefully, a slightly thicker short pad will help solve this. I was particularly happy being able to sit on the TT bars for a good 10 minute stretch 160k into the ride.

Still much work to be done before I can think of big distances.

Faithful steed


    • welshcyclist
    • May 21st, 2014

    Saddle sores, are a real pain in the ……. , you know where! I’ve been wearing padded undershorts for years, and found I was still getting them particularly on warm days. Then having read blueonabike’s experiences on his trip from Argentina to Alaska, I switched to just boxer shorts. It seems, in my case anyway, heat was the problem. Just a thought, after a few years the nether regions toughen up, so perhaps no need for the padding, and the need is more for keeping the area cool? However, I’m limited to around 40 miles a trip maximum. Anyway hope you can rule out or not this. Cheers.

    • Cheers. I have been thinking for a while to try a ride without any padding. In fact, I did take some spare shorts with me on this ride that are just plain PE shorts. However, this time the sores seemed different, very much bruises under my sit bones rather than irritation, so I didn’t fancy swapping to less padding mid ride (also, heavily padded undershorts today felt good!).

      Maybe the “bruises” wouldn’t have developed if I’d gone for the no-padding option to begin with? I think it’s something I’ll definitely try on my next 100k which is just about long enough to feel these problems starting. If that doesn’t work, it’s back to saddle swapping (I now have 5 in my collection now!) and / or incredibly expensive Assos shorts which have good reviews about the padding.

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