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.


Cycling mileage 2015 vs 2014 vs 2013

2013 2014 2015
Miles Count Miles Count Miles Count
Sirrus 2529.39 124 153.81 9  152.69 4
Sirrus Light  1597.21  75
Linskey 3357.64 160 3243.03 158
Khatmandu  84.94  8 46.66 3 40.08 4
Khatmandu – ice 190.15 11 7.83 1 101.61 6
Raptobike 49.17 5 152.83 7 2.86 1
TOTAL 4450.86 223 3718.77 180 3540.27  173


The third year of commuting to Camberley. Strange how 2014 & 2015 seem to blend together. Maybe it’s because we had the same camping holiday both years…

Very similar between the two years cycling wise. Felt like I did more cycling in 2015, mainly because of the failed 600k, but I think there were fewer mid distance Audaxes & weekend rides.

Also average commuting speed (combined moving average of going in and coming home) for all 3 years.

Commuting speed graph 2015, 2014vs2013

Definitely had a good patch through the end of the summer holidays and I think that extra effort (and lack of back pain) lasted through to the end of the year.


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.