Archive for the ‘ Audax ’ Category

Audax 2016 – 600k – Skegness Adventure

After many chats with Dave, we decided that we needed another crack at a 600k ride. Based on our experiences in Wales, we decided we’d try something different, so went for the flattest route available. Ely and Lincoln were the original objectives, with the Humber estuary also being a candidate, but in the end, we decided we liked the idea of the fens, so picked Skegness.

Fortunately, we made it, but not with as much time to spare as I’d hoped:



Despite the flatness, the ride turned out to be somewhat of an ordeal. This was mainly due to the almost continuous heavy rain.

In fact, it was raining heavily when I was leaving at 9am on Sunday.

The hero departs

I had already decided to take full thermal gear, despite the promised 18 degree temperatures and the miserable start sealed it.

The ride to Dave’s was fine, despite the rain. However, heading through Windsor park, my right leg began to hurt quite badly. Fortunately, this was cured by rapid use of Ibuprofen. This would twinge every now and again for the first few hours, but then didn’t bother me thereafter. Note sure what it was all about.

I then had two other potential disasters related to my Lumicycle headlight. First, pulling over after the road through Slough, I discovered that the mount had snapped and the light was bouncing against my spokes. I had hoped a new arrangement with the mount had solved this problem, which used to happen every 6 moths or so, but clearly, it had just been over 6 months since my last replacement! Fortunately, I had decided the night before t pack a spare mount. Somewhere on the horribly bumpy and busy road through Amersham, I decided it’d be a good idea to take the light off until I actually needed it, to reduce the chance of losing the final mount. When I stopped to do this, I discovered that the light wasn’t working and I couldn’t persuade it to re-start. Because of the bullet-proofness of the Lumicycle, I hadn’t bothered to pack a replacement. Never leaving home without the Hope 1 again! Frantic calls ahead to my brother in law secured a spare light. In the end however, a few hours in the trunk bag for light and battery seemed to cure all ills, and it worked faultlessly for the rest of the trip. I did however, take the offered spare, having lost faith! It could be that attaching a new mount in the rain got some contact wet, that then dried out in the bag.

Somewhere after Dunstable, the sun came out and we were treated to quiet, smooth roads through the fens in the sunshine. This was definitely the high point of the ride. Then arriving at my brother and sister in law’s at Prickwillow, we were treated to a slap-up meal. Excellent.

Dinner at Ricks

This got us in high enough spirits to play down the cracking of thunder as we left. I’d even swapped thermals for shorts! This of course, is when the truly torrential rain started. I tried taking photos, but none really did it justice. The rain continued to hammer down as we passed through Wisbech and towards Long Sutton where we dived into an almost impossibly welcome McDonalds.

Blessed McDonalds

In fact, McDonalds turned out to be a great find on this trip. They are actually open 24 hours a day and you can see your bikes from your seat. Quick service too!

The A17 and A16 to Boston went pretty quickly in a pace-line. While there were quite a few lorries, they were all very courteous and the road was nice and wide for overtaking. We got to Boston thinking that we’d pretty much make to to Skegness, but over 20 miles on the bumpy A52 ground us down somewhat.

By this point, the rain had stopped, being replaced by heavy, wet fog.

Bike in fog

This meant that by the time we got to our “hotel” in Skegness, our clothes were still soaking.

Skegness hotel

It’s a testament to the space blanket, that I actually managed to get 30-45 minutes sleep despite soggy clothes and temperatures close to 10 degrees. A 3am arrival was slightly later than I’d hoped, but surely we’d make up time without the rain.

I woke up to a dawn over the sea at 4am and we pushed on while we had a hope of quiet roads. The small roads through the fens were nice and quiet, but rather rutted and bumpy. They continued to be poorly surfaced as we approached Sleaford, but the rush-hour traffic built continuously and it was with relief that we stopped for a slap-up breakfast.


The roads after Sleaford seemed to be much quieter, so we relaxed a little. Then, at the bottom of a small descent Dave kept pedaling over a very small ford. I saw Dave slide sideways a couple of meters ahead and decided to pedal faster rather than attempt to stop as t was already too late. Both wheels went out from under me for a fraction of a second. 20m down the road after controlling massive wobbles, we were completely focused again.

After this, the rain started to slowly increase again (cue another McDonalds shelter). It would reach a point where I was sick of it, then it’d get heavier. This went on for hours, culminating in cycling down a very busy, narrow and choppy A47 with a river pouring on us.

In Higham Ferrers, a coffee shop ( I believe) owner rushed out and told us we could bring our bikes inside, round the back when they spotted us locking them up outside. The rain had turned torrential again at this point, so it was huge relief to do the faffing with bags and GPS under cover. Also, it allowed me to relax with the bikes secure. Waffle with ice cream, bagle and flapjack for the road were also all most appreciated.


It was around this time that I noticed that Dave wasn’t eating much. As I was packing away waffles and burgers, he was having soup! He was feeling nauseous when eating or even drinking water. No doubt something evil picked up on his bottle spout from the endless spray on “country” roads. This lack of nutrition was starting to give him trouble and he struggled to stay on my wheel to Milton Keynes if I pushed at all.

The ride through Milton Keynes was extremely pleasant on a network of small roads an good quality cycle paths. In the middle of this cycling joy was a beautiful lake where we took the opportunity for a quick rest.

Sleeping in MK

Tired in MK

Despite his bench kip, Dave was still suffering on the ride from Milton Keynes to Aylesbury, only slightly ameliorated by ice lollies. Aylesbury turned out to be a truly horrible town for cycling with crummy surfaces, fast but narrow roads and a massive amount of traffic. Not to mention scary roundabouts and dual carriageways. It was exiting Aylesbury that Dave and I parted ways. We were planning to do so further on, after the M4 crossing, but he was able to take a more direct and less hilly route back home, which made sense given his troubles.

It turned out that Dave actually got home 30 minutes before me, so either his ice lollies jazzed him up, he had been playing me since Higham Ferrers and saving his energy sitting on my wheel, or most likely, I was actually also in a terrible state.

As I got away from Aylesbury, the traffic calmed down and I ground out the final miles. I didn’t remember the exact route I had planned for the run in, expecting to be approaching Wokingham from the West, but actually coming at it from the East. It wasn’t helped by the fact that had confused the layout of Wokingham with Sandhurst or that there way yet another bout of torrential rain, hampering visibility and generally being miserable.

However, at last, I was back onto roads I knew like the back of my hand through Farnborough and back into Aldershot. At last, I rolled up to my front door, where my wife had stayed up to get a picture of me creeping in at midnight of Monday / Tuesday.

The hero returns

All in all, a great adventure, but really could have done without the rain and it being about 10 hours shorter.

And last, what Audaxing is all about, riding down a rainy trunk road in the middle of the night:

Audax 2016 – 100k – Norfolk Mardle

A bit like last time, I’ve been lazy and I actually did this ride in February.

The route took in a nice circuit of countryside South of Norwich:

This was the route of an Audax I attempted very early in my Audaxing “career”. That time (2011 I think…) I made a disastrous misjudgement with the weather and decided not to wear overshoes (which I had brought to Norwich). It proceeded to sleet & snow heavily and my feet froze. I ended up giving up and turning around in Loddon and going home (so ended up doing about 60km anyway) when the people at the control failed to stamp my Brevet card quickly enough. I remember it took a day before I regained all feeling in my toes. My brother in law actually completed the 200k version (The Old Squirt) on the same day, but I believe he sorted out his footwear better.

This time was much more successful and I made a good average speed despite it being pretty windy, with a headwind for the two quarters of the journey.

I could have gone non-stop, but I decided to take several stops for pictures of picturesque churches, and the Norwich City training ground.

Norwich City Church4 Church3 Church2 Bike Church1

The lanes were covered with a particularly fine mix of mud and poo. Check out the despicable state of the forks in the Norwich City picture.

Audax 2016 – 100k – Surrey Hills

You may notice that I actually did this ride on the 31st December 2015 (in preparation for New Year jolliness in the evening), but the Audax season is from 1st November. I was going to do a ride every month of the Audax season, but I can pretend it’s December – December.

I decided to venture roads I haven’t travelled for some time and planned a route to the dark heart of Surrey: This took in the hardest hills I know and I thought my legs could do with the challenge.

As I expected for Surrey, the roads were in terrible shape (apart from Box Hill and the descent from Leith Hill, which used to be a trench) and there were loads of people out. Fortunately, many of these people were road cyclists, so I got some competition. Turns out I was on the slow side for a MAMIL, but I held my end up reasonably well given the continuous nature of my ride. First a group of 3 roadies managed to chase me down slowly over about 5km of rolling country. Then, after Winterfold (Barhatch lane out of Cranleigh) I spotted another roadie up ahead. I slowly closed him down until I caught him on the White Down lane ascent. He then managed to break me on the 20% ramp towards the top (I think maybe I should have used a slightly higher gear and stood on the pedals), but stopped at the top, where I continued. Finally, on Box Hill, about 1/3rd of the way up, I spied a light behind. I managed to keep out of reach to the top, though I think they managed to close down 100m. I have a feeling that the Box Hill pursuer was the same chap as I followed up White Down.

Box Hill was in rather nice sunshine (prior to heavy rain showers on my way down Leith Hill) and has developed a nice lot of random road graffiti since I last saw it. So I stopped to take some pictures on the descent.

Box hill 1 Box hill 2

Other random things that happened were the near squirrel suicide under my front wheel and being hit on the side of the helmet by something on the way out of Dorset. There was no one visible, but I may have spied the nets of a tennis court a way off the road, which was about the right weight.

I’m not sure of my actual total time, but I think it was about 4hr 30, which is abit slow for a 100k. I put that mostly down to the wind and narrow wet descents that I took very carefully.

I’ve also noticed that I tend to get hiccoughs after 100s. This is really annoying as I would fully expect exhaustion and sore legs (both of which I had) but not bloody hiccoughs.

Audax 2015 – 100k – Glorious Goodwood

I hadn’t been out for a social ride since the failed 600 with Dave, so I thought it would be good to organise something not too strenuous, where we could enjoy the cycling.

On a holiday to Bognor Regis earlier this summer (incidentally, the weekend where my old phone died), we had driven up the hill next to Goodwood racecourse. It seemed like a good cycling challenge, so I duly created a 100k around it:

All the planning almost came to grief when I got a cold on the Friday before the ride. I was feeling pretty crummy Saturday night, but decided I would start the ride and see how it went, against doctors (wife’s) advice. In the end, after a gentle start, I felt ok, so went through the whole ride. I felt abit weird Sunday afternoon.

Pretty much the whole ride, we had really strange temperature inversions. We’d be freezing in fog and mist, then go up a hill and feel warm gusts of air. My mirror and glasses would steam up, then we’d pop into blazing sunshine.

One of these sunny spots was the top of the Goodwood climb:

Goodwood hill

And closeup of our bikes:


You’ll notice my lovely lime green saddle in place of the Brooks. This is part of my lightweight scheme, which saves 500g over the Thudbuster & Brooks. Must say, the lack of comfort wouldn’t be worth it over more than 100k. Dave is still soldiering on with his broken front derailieur and tellingly, had it on the small chainring.

We started at 7am, which meant the outward leg on A roads was nice and quiet. Coming home, the roads were just starting to get busy at the point we popped off onto lanes through Selham and Lickfold. The final stretch through Milford, was busy, but bearable, because we were close to the finish.

In the end I think we went pretty quick, considering I wasn’t 100% and the amount of climbing on the route, just shy of 1300m.

Audax 2015 – 150k – Bike Delivery

Over the past year, I’ve been slowly re-building the Sirrus after it was rather cannibalized to create the Lynskey. I didn’t really have idea what purpose the bike would have. That was, until my dad started looking for a bike. After a few suggestions of folding bikes that he wasn’t up for, I had the idea that the Sirrus could be find a good home and avoid him having to spend money on a piece of junk. The added advantage would be that I’d have a bike at my parents house for raids into Wales.

I reckoned that a 150k ride to Bristol would be a good test of the machine and avoid having to put the rack on the car.

Sirrus Mk3

Because my dad isn’t really a keen cyclist, I built the front up as high as possible and used a Shimano XT rear mech for a really low bottom gear. I also thought he might appreciate the qualities of the Rivet saddle. The TT bars are not part of the build for my dad. I threw them on at the last minute because I saw the forecast was for a decent headwind the whole way.

The route I based around back roads, which I thought would be a change from the A-roading we did for the (failed) 600. The interest point was that it took in a hill (after Aldbourne) that I always take to be the half way point between Aldershot and Bristol. It stands out because there’s a copse of trees perched on the top and often at night I saw specks of headlights high up in the darkness and wondered what it’d be like up there. Well, now I know.

Copse on hill



I had done 3 days of commuting on the Sirrus before this ride, to make sure that it would hold together (and because I was waiting for a new sprocket of the Lynskey). However, the setup clearly wasn’t as finely honed as I’d normally have and I suffered cramp in my thigh after about 50k. This got to it’s worst by Hungerford, where I started raising the saddle. I ended up with it 1.5 inches higher than when I’d started and the last 20 miles went pretty easily.

Hungerford was also the point I had some very tasty sweet and sour balls next to the river.

IMGP2178 IMGP2179 IMGP2177

Despite the thigh cramp, I had a successful couple of races with roadies.

The first was a long slog from the A34 to Hungerford where my thigh was at it’s worst. I turned into a road just ahead of a chap on a pretty good looking setup. I expected him to blow past me and then I’d have a chance to take his wheel, but after putting in a small effort so it wasn’t too easy, I looked in my mirror an he was about 20-30m behind. It pretty much stayed like that for the next 15km! I would pull away at any point where I could employ the TT bars and on the steeper hills, but then would have slight hold-ups (bus coming the other way, traffic lights etc) and he’d be back at 30m. It seemed like such a small distance and our speeds were so similar, that he could have put in a small push and gotten onto my wheel, but he never did.

The second race was alot less dramatic, but made me feel good. In Yate (150k into the ride that was actually 160k) a roadie on a carbon bike was sitting ahead of me at lights. I thought I’d get a small tow for a km or so before he dropped me, but in the end he was really slow and I breezed past him and he disappeared in my mirror on the first hill. Result!

After the saddle raises, the bike worked well for me. I was really glad I had put the TT bars on because it would have been really hard work into the wind and my hands would have been ruined because I would never have been able to take the weight off them. I also ended up in the middle chainring most of the time because the large is (and always has been) too large and the cassette range is big enough now to cater for most hills.

I’m coming to the conclusion that 150 and 300k are my favourite distances. Both a good days out. 300k is a huge distance, but is pretty much waking up to bedtime. 150k is really relaxed time wise, I can drop off the kids at school, prepare and get to my destination in time for an early supper. You don’t go that far in a 100k and 200k is unhelpfully in-between a big day and an easy day. Maybe this will change if I get faster and/or maybe there will be some longer distance that hits the sweet spot as well.

150k still felt like a long way and I still struggle to conceive of it being a quarter of a ride (or an eighth if you’re talking PBP/LEL). But then again, after getting to Bristol, I couldn’t think of doing it again, but now I’m very happy with 300km in a day. We shall see.

Audax 2015 – Wales Raid – Dave’s rememberings

Roughly in order from our departure until my abandon:

  • The Kite when my jockey died
  • Looking at every cyclist from Stratfield Mortimer to Thatcham as a potential donor of bike parts, with or without their consent
  • A miracle – finding a bike shop with just the right part open to 6:30? on a Friday, which then morphs into a tea (with milk) and coffee producer and then it’s a bike shop with a toilet and showers for customers (
  • The first blue bell woods
  • A hare going from left to right
  • Looking down on the orange lights of towns below us
  • The first part of the night when the Moon was still strong
  • Riding on the right hand side of the road
  • East German approach to getting the best from athletes
  • A Cadbury factory
  • The landscape gardener who wanted to be reincarnated a prostitute
  • A strangely lit up hill just on the border with Wales
  • Girl in the panini restaurant putting extra cheese in our toasties on hearing of our audacious adventure, a terrible burden to carry over the lower slopes of Mt Gospel but essential for some of the high altitude work we had to do.
  • Thinking we had done the ridge between the mountains and the estuary before it had really got going.
  • You shouting out encouragement when I KOM’d that ramp
  • Knocking a man over with the combined force of our bike lights (we stopped to check he was ok)
  • Hallucinating that hedges were walls in a corridor and a donkey emerging from a porch

Audax 2015 – 600k (failed, reduced to 500k) – Wales Raid

My first failed Audax for a while. To be fair, I decided to start hard on my quest for Super Randonneur with a 600k through Wales. In the end, I made it back to Bristol, completing 500k and thus my longest ride to date:

Again, Dave was up for the foolhardiness, so joined me on the adventure.

The original plan was to leave Dave’s house at 3pm on Friday (after a nice long lie-in), cycle straight through the Night into and through Saturday, hopefully arriving at my parents house in Bristol for a quick sleep after 24 hours or so, then press on into the early hours of Sunday back home to make it easily within the 40 hours time limit for a 600k (15kph average).

In the end, we arrived in Bristol after 31 hours (about 22:30), which was pretty much bang on 15kph. I couldn’t go through another night with no sleep, so decided to abandon, especially as my knees were in abit of trouble. Dave pressed on, but had to sleep in a field and bus shelters eventually arriving back home at mid-day on the Sunday.

Despite not making our time limit, there were some great moments.

Chow mein in Wantage:

Wantage chow mein

Meeting an ultra distance runner in the middle of the night somewhere near Tewkesbury. He said he was running to Lands End, but we neglected to ask him where he had started from. I can only assume John O’Groats, though Dave suggested Tewkesbury. Almost immediately after meeting him (and his escort car), we saw a “road ahead closed” sign. As usual, as cyclists, we decided it couldn’t apply to us. After several miles and more and more “turn back or be doomed” signs, we were starting to get worried. Finally we arrived at some very convoluted roadworks ans thankfully spotted a “pedestrians” sign:

Bridge repairs

(don’t know about great, but memorable) The police car that tried to wreck us, pirate style. It was parked in a layby facing us, but it was the wrong side of the road. We both assumed it had pulled over to the left, not the right and were really confused when we tried to go to the left of it, that we suddenly ended up on stones and grass!

The descent of the mountain pass to Newton was freezing, but extremely exciting, followed by the (again excellent) Weatherspoons enormous cooked breakfast.

Ice cream in Hay on Wye.

The magnificent view from the top of Gospell Pass:

Gospel Pass

and crossing the Severn Bridge at dusk:

Severn Bridge

The main low points were: realising at Newton that we were in big trouble with time;  getting very cold (to the point of ringing my wife to find train stations) on the descent to Rhayader) and the 24hr petrol station at Leominster, where the man in the window asked me “would I like sugar with my tea”. I said “yes”. He handed me a black tea and a packet of sugar. I enquired about milk. The chap looked really surprised, had a little wander round the shop and then said there wasn’t any. So, black tea, when I REALLY needed a good cuppa at 4am!

So, what went wrong?

The planned route was 630km, rather than 600. Dave suffered a mechanical (all the bearings fell out of the jockey wheel in the rear mech, something I’ve never seen before) near Mortimer. We fortunately managed to find a bike shop that was open late, so could get a replacement, but this added 8km to our route. I also made a mistake in navigation after Leominster (maybe tea deprived), which took us to Knighton via Ludlow, rather than direct. This added another 12km. So in the end the full route (as Dave discovered) was 650km. If this had all been factored in to the Audax time limit, it would have given us another 3 hours on our time limit.

We didn’t build a buffer during the relatively flat section to Wales with a tailwind. Our average was 18.5kph (factoring in the extra 20km of mechanical and navigation error). This should have been well above 20kph. The moving average over this section was 23kph, so we probably stopped too much. Whether we could have made the rest without stopping that much is a moot point.

Our speed through the night (and much of Saturday) wasn’t helped by it being cold and wet. We would stop at a petrol station, get cold, put on layers, get even colder with a descent, then boil going up the next hill, stop to take layers off, then get freezing again on the next descent, with added wetness from our sweat. Cold seem to be a problem on these long rides, as we’re not generating the heat with high speed riding. It seems that in temperatures where I’d be warm in a long sleeve top during my commute, I get chilled with two base layers, a cycling shirt, thermal tights and a rain jacket. Maybe the winter jacket next time,  though this could easily be soaked by sweat.

My plan was too optimistic with timings. If we had left at 10am, rather than 3pm on the Friday, we could still have gotten a lie-in, probably not suffered that much more with sleep deprivation on the Saturday, but had 5 more hours before collapse on the Saturday. The plan was based around having light for the descent to Newton, but dawn was surprisingly early and a long time before sunrise.

Maybe Welsh mountains were overly ambitious for our first attempt at a 600. I have an Ely, Lincoln & the Fens route up my sleeve as a plan B.


The Brooks Swift held up well. I can’t say it was blissful, but nothing would be for 30+ hours. But compared to previous long rides (except my last 300, also with the Brooks), it was marvellous. My left shoulder started to really ache after about 350km, which was hard to deal with because any position on the bike put pressure on it, apart from sitting bolt upright holding the TT arm rests. Not ideal. This trouble stabilized, but it wasn’t ideal.

All in all, hard work, but a real adventure that I’ll remember for a while, or at least my knees will!


One week later and I’ve cycled to work once, my knees are actually fine, they had stopped hurting by the Tuesday, but my left Achilles tendon is pretty sore still. This twinged a little during the ride, but not to the extent of the knees, so it’s strange that it should be the long term problem.

Audax 2014 – 100k – Winchester Winter Solstice

As a counterpoint to our summer solstice 400k to Weston-super-Mare, cycling buddy Dave and I had been planning a ride for the winter solstice (ice permitting). Due to Christmas party commitments, I had to talk him down from a Woking- Cambridge – Oxford 400k loop, then we finally gave up on doing anything much more than a 100k. I had decided that to do something different, I would take the recumbent on the ride. Knowing this, I planned a flat as possible A-road route to Winchester taking in some big roads because of the early start time.

Knowing most of the ride would be in the dark, I decided it was finally time to get creative with the reflective stickers. Coming up with the evil eye to ward off errant motorists:



This seemed to do the trick and we had no hassle from bad driving. In fact, one car refused to come close to me from Fleet to Aldershot, so ended up going 15mph for about 3 miles! Dave tells me that from behind it looks rather like a snake, so success.

Our ride to visit King Alfred in Winchester was a success.


However, we suffered several mechanicals en-route. First, my chain un-shipped a couple of miles from home over bumps requiring a quick stop. Then a rubber band on my GPS holder failed. Thank goodness it didn’t fall off completely as we were on a quick descent along the A31 at the time. I thought to give up with the GPS at the time. but then stashed it in my bag. This is why the track is in two parts. On the descent into Winchester (about 1km from where the photo was taken), Dave suffered a front puncture, then just before the turn for Axford along the A33, Dave’s chain also un-shipped!

Upon arriving home, I was rather disappointed about our finishing time (about 4 hours 45 minutes, where a good 100k will take 4 hours) but the average moving speeds aren’t too shabby, so I think the many small stops hurt our time. Probably jumping straight into 100k with no preparation on the bent was a mistake, because my legs didn’t recognize what I was forcing them to do and I’ve been un-able to bend my knees for a couple of days. I also had the feeling that rough roads (washboard rather than potholed) really slowed me down. When I was on a smooth piece, I’m sure I could make 10kmh more for the same effort! I feel this somewhat on the upright and not having done that route before I have no direct comparison, but it could well be the difference between the 700c and 20″ front wheels. Maybe it’s time to get myself kitted out with a 26″ front.



Audax 2014 – 300k – Doesn’t seem so long this time (Norwich)

This year I was aiming for a Super Randonneur, but then at the critical time, I developed a long running cold, then incapacitated my back in a coughing fit. Despite not being fully fit, I figured it was getting late in the year for a big ride. So, seeing favourable winds, I took the snap decision to go for it and take on a flattish 300. My wife was not convinced by this plan and thought I would probably ruin myself.

This was exactly the same route I took last year. As you can see, I managed to shave 8 minutes off my effort one year ago!

It all started well, but my back started hurting a little more each mile, especially when putting power in. This meant I couldn’t keep up the pace I wanted up the hills. Around Milton Keynes, about half distance, I was contemplating abandoning. However, I knew that if I made it to my brother and sister in law’s in Ely, I could sit and wait for a pick up rather than have to deal with trains. That was only a 100k further, which wouldn’t be impossible. By the time I got to Ely, the pains had disappeared (maybe from the motivation of racing & beating a roadie) and I was flying again, so I pushed on. I’m glad I didn’t take an early chance of an easy way out.


I was abit disappointed by not having quite as high a moving average as the last time and to still have spent 2 hours not moving. This is in spite of only having two real 30 minute stops for lunch and early supper. I always seemed to be stopping to take clothes on and off, adjust equipment and of course the call of nature. Both shop stops I made, I seemed to end up behind multiple people doing things very slowly!

The great things about the ride, were that I didn’t end up a cripple and I didn’t get any saddle sores! The Brooks Swift / Thudbuster combination actually came through on a big ride. I think the fact that my sit bones aren’t as well supported as on other saddles means that it doesn’t feel as good over a short distance, but equally prevents sores under the sit bones that have plagued me. The Thudbuster makes the whole thing not un-bearable on the other areas of my underside.

I’m also continually amazed by my ability to recover on long rides. I’ll find myself flagging, sit down and eat a sandwich, then be back on form, even after 250k.

Anyway, more random ride pictures:

WP_002062 WP_002057 WP_002060

Audax 2014 – 400k – Weston-super-Mare Solstice

A few weeks ago, I suggested to one of my cycling buddies that we do a ride to celebrate the solstice. He’s usually tied up with work and family, so I was thinking we might squeeze in a 100 or even a 200 seeing the sunrise. Of course, he upped the ante, suggesting a 400k all day expedition. He had selected the target as Weston-super-Mare and I’ve been thinking about doing a 400 for a while, so it was time to commit!

The plan was to start just after midnight and try to complete the whole ride before the next midnight, taking full advantage of the longest day.

The route ( was predominantly big A roads to start with to take advantage of the graveyard hours with no traffic. This worked well, with another sun worshipper joining us for the ride to Winchester before returning home. We put in big miles on deserted dual carriageways to Yeovil. The only downside was that not getting much sleep the day before left me feeling pretty odd until we got in a big breakfast at Yeovil. This wasn’t helped by the temperature dropping to 7 degrees through the countryside. I was really glad I’d gone for 3/4 length shorts and a long sleeve top option. Wish I’d had full gloves too!


Then, what should have been the easiest part of the ride, Yeovil to Weston on dead flat back roads. However, I found the rough surface (more washboard than pothole) hard going with a saddle sore (more on that later) and a mild headwind added to the exertion. By the time we got to Weston I was looking forward to a rest and big lunch. t

There was some sort of event going on at Weston, involving air displays, parachuting and mini tanks.


At this point it was good to be on a bike, because the queue for the car park was huge and the roads gridlocked. We however had the freedom of the promenade.

Beach & Bikes

We must not have looked to respectable though because some scouts came round collecting money for charity and avoided us! Must have been told about odd men in Lycra.

The next stage from Weston to Bradford-on-Avon was the toughest on paper, with the afternoon heat and a fair bit of climbing. There was indeed much climbing, but only two hills were a big challenge, being > 15%. However, we picked up some good pace by racing roadies. We passed a lone rider on a stripped down carbon bike up a big hill, to find his friends waiting at the top for him. They preceded to give chase, but we managed to break the pursuit and they evidently decided to wait again. Almost immediately, another roadie appeared in our mirrors. We assumed this was a runner sent out from the group, but it turned out he was on his own. He almost caught us, but we managed a team TT to break him, only to make a navigation error and end up with him on our tail again. This was on a steep hill, so we had a chat and he disappeared up the road.

The roads on this section were a little rough, and rather busy for their size and gradient. We would quite often end up with a queue of cars behind us, especially crawling up a hill at 5mph. Most were very courteous, but it did mean that there was very little break in this section.

It was about this time that my friend started obsessing about getting an ice cream. I started obsessing too and from that point on every sign we saw looked like an ice cream parlour! This went on for 20k or so until we finally did make Bradford-on-Avon. There, we found a cycle friendly cafe that did indeed do ice cream (I can’t find the cafe on Google unfortunately, or I’d recommend them). They said they were closing up so couldn’t do hot food, but evidently took pity on us as said “we could do something simple like a baked potato with beans and cheese”. I took my second selfie so you can judge how haggard I look.


The food boosted our spirits as we headed onto the A4. This was, as we had planned a nice high speed section, with Dave taking big fast turns on the front. So fast I could only barely hold onto his wheel. My knee had started to twinge at Weston and I was trying to be a little cautious without resorting to a crawl. The only interruption to our TT effort was the fact that several miles of the A4 had been torn up, leaving something akin to a strada bianco. Not only was this rough, but a few drivers passed us without slowing down, showering us with stones. Apart from this, the A4 was again excellent, so wide for the volume of traffic that someone was happy enough to cycle on it with their 5 year old!

The final section from Newbury to home I again found hard going. Newbury seems so close, but it’s still a 2 hour + ride to get home. The stand out moment was the setting of the sun heralding our descent to winter. I also somehow managed to get 2nd fastest personal time on one of my regular commute Strava sections. Not sure how I managed that.


The colours in the photo don’t really do the sunset justice.

Yet again, I suffered with saddle sores. Things started hurting around Salisbury, only 100k in! Things didn’t get better, but they didn’t get much worse either. I was able to mitigate the problem somewhat by shifting my position on the saddle and hanging a buttock off the side. This may however have contributed to my knee twinges as my legs weren’t quite symmetric. I think I can rule out heat as a cause, because the problems started through the very coldest part of the ride where I was shivering uncontrollably! Time for more messing about, or recumbent training. Recovery has been excellent. I wasn’t able to walk down the stair the morning after, but I was able to cycle to work the day after that!

Despite all the discomfort, I’m very glad I celebrated the turning of the year by breaking myself physically and mentally.