Archive for the ‘ Audax ’ Category

Audax 200k – Windy Wiltshire

The torrential rain and gales abated a little, so it was the chance for the January ride.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4430781704

The forecast had been for no rain, but I packed coat and overshoes anyway and un-surprisingly, it started drizzling heavily 30 minutes in.

The ride out wasn’t too bad depite the headwind until abit of a low after Pewsey where I was going slow and got passed by another roadie. I tried to accelerate to stay on their tail, but there was nothing in the tank.

I worried about accessing the church at Alton Priors for the first Cycle Quest clue. However, despite the grass being sodden, there wasn’t that much mud and I managed to walk right roud the church.

The ride up the hill past the Alton Barnes White Horse was awesome with a monster tailwind, as was most of the ride to Hungerford, via a pub lunch and the second Cycle Quest clue at Ramsbury.

After that I was feeling the cross / headwind and getting tired, but I completed the ride in good time.

Alton Priors Church

View North from Alton Priors

Alton Barnes White Horse

Pub Lunch

Ramsford Cycle Quest Clue

Audax 200k – Oxford Floods

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4359974575

There looked like there was a gap in the rain warnings, so I decided to attempt this ride before getting into the Christmas season.

I kind of wish I hadn’t.

The rain was hammering down when I woke up at 4am (I wanted to make sure I was back home for a party at 4pm) and was still hammering when it was time to leave.

The roads towards Oxfordshire were very wet and I had to go through several large puddles. I was cold as well and I wish I’d put on thicker socks.

Then at West Hanney, there was a puddle so large I didn’t fancy risking it. I saw a Land Rover go through up to the wheel arches and there was no way round. I took a detour that was far longer than it needed to be, but at least it was fairly dry roads.

I had made an in-advisable routing choice for the season of a farm track between Coleshill and Watchfield. This was a terrible mud hole.

McDonalds at Watchfield was still serving breakfast.

Going back South I was battling a strong headwind. Then after the A4 more floods started to intervene. Near West End Green, there was another enormous puddle with no way round. I peddaled through very slowly, but in the middle, the road dropped away and I was able to only just save myself, but with water up to my knees. There was another wading incident near Fleet, but I figured I was so wet anyway it didn’t matter.

On a back-road I lifted a phesant out of a puddle, but I think it had been hit by a car and died anyway.

Audax 200k – Aldershot to Bristol via Salisbury

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4256491122

This ride was cold and wet. Also, it seems like I had to put in an enormous effort to go very slowly.

There were a couple of “path” sections, that might have been fine in summer, but were mud-holes.

Stopped for a sandwich at Old Saurum. This was a terrible mistake because I go so cold, I had to ride hard with all my layeres on for several miles to warm up.

Got terribly lost trying to get through Froome. It had just gotten dark and started pouring with rain, so it was very hard to read the GPS.

On the lanes transitioning from the Radstock to Bath cycle paths, the rain got heavy again. Resulting in more horrible mud, then having to put on my balaclava to keep warm!

Finishing on cycle paths was good, but some of the route into bath was not metalled, so, in combination with the earlier mud, the bike got truly filthy.

I went through my water much more quickly than I expected and had a headache for the last third.

Plumstead – Holkham Raid via Strada Bianchi

An energetic morning ride to Holkham Hall.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2220889646

It started out fairly cold and I was glad for full length gloves. The first half of the ride was into a mild headwind, but I had chosen small roads, so I had alot of shelter.

As well as the visit to Holkham Hall, I had spotted some Norfolkian strada bianchi on Google streetview and thought it’d be interesting to give it a ride.

The strada bianchi was a little muddy and potholed, but easily passable. It would have been better in summer and could be tricky if there had been more rain. There was an interesting climb, where the gravel seemed really slippery and I was struggling for traction despite the hill being only 5% or so.

Holkham Hall was several miles of good quality traffic free roads with quite a few other cyclists and runners out and about.

The coast road back towards Sheringham was quite busy, but I had a lovely tailwind all the way. A highlight was blowing away two competent looking cyclist on fixies on a hill out of Moreston Quay.

The climb up from the coast was very satisfying, as was being able to see familiar landmarks from miles off in the more rolling country near Plumstead.

I’m tarting to enjoy 70km rides very much. They’re a good challenge, but missing out the final 30k of a 100 where I always end up getting bored!

Parting shot of the Wells – Walsingham miniature railway.

Audax 2017 – 300k – Aldershot to Norwich

After a trouble free summer of commuting, I felt fit enough for a longer ride. I’ve enjoyed every trip to Norwich, so I thought I’d do it again, but with a couple of modifications. One to make use of the cycle paths through Milton Keynes (which Dave and I enjoyed on the Skegness 600k) and the other to avoid a rubbish section between Huntingdon and St Ives by using another cycle path.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1958664328

Average moving speed was slightly down on the two previous efforts (2013 & 2014), but the total time was similar to within 10 minutes. I think this was down partly to using the cycle paths, but also the fact that I didn’t have a massive tailwind this time.

I have been working on making my Audax kit a little more lightweight. The main changes are: new, smaller TT bars; Brooks Cambium saddle without suspension seatpost and a saddlebag instead of rack and rack top bag.

I prefer the aesthetic of the new stuff:

Old

vs New

Anyway, the ride.

Howling foxes woke me up at 4am, so I decided just to get up, rather than wait for my alarm at 4:45. I was toying with the idea of setting out with shorts and short jersey, but it was pretty cold, so I the end I put a long sleeve top on as well and took full length gloves. I’m glad I did, because out in the countryside the temperature dropped down to 6 degrees! Thus the rather picturesque mist over the fields.

Aldershot was again surprisingly busy at 5:15, but I very quickly got out onto quiet roads and scenic towns. This is Henley on Thames.

I was starting to get tired approaching Milton Keynes and the Cambium was causing mild saddle sores. Taking the cycle paths was a nice break for the legs, but the paths were of variable quality, which didn’t help the sores or the speed. Here I stopped for my first food break in Willen Lakeside Park, where I managed to score an ice cream to supplement my sandwiches.

I decided to pack sandwiches for this ride because there were no McDonalds or Subways along the route. There was the potential of a fish & chip shop in Olney, but I quite like being able to stop in my own time.

The roads from Milton Keynes to Huntingdon quiet and rolling.

But again, I was getting tired and looking forward to the next cycle path section. This was very slow (though nicely surfaced) and involved walking, passing through the picturesque Houghton Mill.

I picked up a very tasty flapjack in the cafe.

After St Ives, I had thought to use the St Ives to Cambridge Busway cycle path. However, it added 10km to the ride and I was worried about time, so I plumped for the A-roads to Ely. In the end they were fairly quiet, wide and smooth, so I made good time without stress.

I was aiming for an early supper at a quiet spot between Ely and Thetford forest, deep in the fens.

After this, I got my head down and managed a solid session to Norwich, with only a short toilet stop. The road through Thetford forest and on to Watton, Hingham and Norwich is really excellent. The wind had definitely turned head on by this point, so this section was hard work, but I got in just as the sun was setting.

Of the new kit, the saddlebag worked as well as the rack top bag. It stayed more secure, but it seemed easier to jumble the contents. The new TT bars seemed just as comfortable while on them, but are narrow enough that I can get my hands on the top of the bars without twisting. The saddle was the only letdown. The saddle sores were only mild, but I was thinking about the saddle, which didn’t happen with the Swift.

The Swift causes me some discomfort in the buttocks when riding really hard (never happening on the 300k), which the Cambium doesn’t and the Cambium is very comfortable over commuting distances. So, I will work on the angle of the Cambium, and maybe even try the suspension seatpost with it.

Beautiful day to be on the road.

Aldershot – Bristol Cycle Paths

I’ve been wanting to explore long distance cycle paths a little more, rather than just focusing on going as fast as I can. I think it’s driven by cycle commuting for a while now and getting sick of traffic.

I put together a route from Aldershot to Bristol that took in cycle paths from Devizes onward: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1831840976.

The back roads to Devizes were all pretty quiet and there were some lovely views along the way.

I kept pushing on so that I could have lunch knowing the road section was finished. I felt like I was going really slowly, but the moving average of 16mph is a good 100k pace for me. This meant a late lunch at 2pm, but with a nice chance to relax by the canal and savour my sandwiches.

Unfortunately, this brute:

emerged from the reeds on the far side of the canal and started attacking me for my lunch. Fortunately, I got hold of a large stick with which to hold it off while I finished.

I know the Bristol – Bath cycle path well, but I wasn’t sure of the quality of the rest of the route, especially the canal tow paths. In the end they were pretty good, a little bumpy, but consistent and reasonably wide in most places. I’m pretty sure they would be passable with some rain, though some of the brick / slab sections could be treacherous.

I was able to keep my speed well above 10mph, apart from when I passed walkers (which there were alot of). This worked out well as I had been starting to get tired after the road section and the slower pace gave me a chance to recover before the smoother cycle paths.

The Bath Two Tunnels path was really interesting and worth a look. My only problem was that I was wearing sunglasses and didn’t notice that I’d somehow put my light onto full power until I saw a couple of people coming the other way with their hands over their eyes.

The Bristol Bath path was going to be a nice restful run-in, but being commuting time, I got into a race against someone coming up behind. Fortunately, a 5k time trial saw them off.

I arrived in Bristol with my legs feeling pretty fresh. My only ache was my calf muscle, which had cramped in bed in the morning!

Will definitely be doing this route again, though maybe picking another place for lunch!

Audax 2016 – 200k – Oxford Countryside

For the final ride of my SR series, I thought I would explore Oxfordshire again. A friend of mine (Matt) recently completed Ride London and has been steadily getting into his cycling, so I thought it would be good to get him along for an Audax. Dave also wanted to come along to bookend the SR series.

I almost ended up with no companions as the weather forecasts became more and more dire. However, once I told Dave the ride was “official” he said he had to do it and Matt took it as an opportunity to buy in a ton of wet weather gear. Good thing he did really, because the weather was pretty much as forecast, with continuous drizzle, interspersed with heavy showers. This is the reason that there are very few pictures because the stunning landscapes were continuously shrouded in mist.

The shonky weather meant we “missioned” round the route more than we would have otherwise, so ended up with very good averages and moving averages: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1351766528.

We had an interesting episode approaching Lechlade on Thames, where we spotted a bunch of riders up ahead, clearly in a race of some kind (they were turning at a marshalled “hairpin” to u-turn back down the road). We of course had to race them and managed to pass about 5 of them but were passed by one chap on the TT bars really going for it and for once decided to back it off with 120k to go. While we were among these riders and seeing some coming the other way, we came to the conclusion that they looked rather muscly for cyclists and also seemed to not be wearing enough clothes. I think they were part of a triathlon.

Our only major stops were, of course McDonalds, and the Wellington Farm Shop:

mcdonalds

bikes-2

My only problem was a particularly large pothole, which I hit badly. This shifted my left hood downwards and inwards, which meant the position felt strange and shifting and breaking were more difficult. I was tempted to try to fix it, but not in the poring rain. In the end I decided to live with it and we made it back in just over 9 hours.

victory