11th June, 8am out on the bike for a quick hour or two before the day gets going and I run into the back of a van. The sudden impact sends me over the handlebars onto the tarmac, breaking my collar bone and damaging ligments and hamstring in my right leg. It’s now the end of August and I am only just getting back onto the bike as the leg has taken so long to heal. I missed the London-Edinburgh-London (1400km) ride at the end of July and I have missed most of the summer. I was gutted, but am getting over it and looking to set myself some new goals for the next 12 months. The first goal is to get back to the long distances as soon as possible with the aim of riding my next 200km Audax in October.
The Cheltenham Flyer, a 200km Audax starting in Andoverford and proceeding clockwise along the route of the River Colne through Faringdon to Burbage, then crossing the Pewsey Downs to the picturesque village of Lacock before returning to Andoversford via the Market town of Tetbury. This was my choice for March as I am trying to do some Audaxes that I have not done before.
The route is shown to the right and can also be found on here on RidewithGPS . The ride was due to start at 08:00, I was up at 05:00 and out of the house by
05:30 for a 90minute drive to Andoversford near Cheltenham. Arriving at just after 07:00 I had plenty of time to get myself ready, have a cup of tea, sign in and pick up my Brevet Card. At 08:00, on the dot, we were off about 65 of us in total, though we would soon be well spread out.
The ride elevation was showning a mixture of rolling and lumpy with 2 or 3 climbs involved. The elevation measured at just below 2000m on the RWG Map
Start to Fernham (Control 1) – 48kms, 1hr 53mins, Avg Spd 25.4kph, Ascent 501m. A lumpy start which settled down to an uneventful but good paced first leg of the ride. Cakes and tea awaited us at Fenham Village Hall.
Fernham to Burbage (Control 2) – 40kms, 1hr 56mins, Avg Spd 21kph, Ascent 571m. A tough second section with 3 good climbs in excess of 10% en route. As the route slowly turned towards the west we started to feel the effects of the forecasted wind which would hit us hard in stage 3.
Burbage to Lacock (Control 3) – 43.5kms, 2 hrs 07mins, Avg Spd 20.6kph, Ascent 407. Right from the off the third leg proved difficult going with a headwind averaging around 16mph and across Pewsey Downs, which being generally flat and wide open afforded absolutely no protection from the wind. My only consolation was that I eventually saw one of the “White Horses” which had been carved into the chalk hillsides. The final run-in to Lacock was a a fast descent from Brampton into the old picturesque village for more cake and tea.
Lacock to Finish – 69kms, 3hrs 8mins, Avg Spd 22.1 kph, Ascent 777m. The longest leg on the ride proved to be quite uneventful apart from one long but not too steep climb towards the end followed by a sharp steep descent (12% at least) with a 90-degree left hand turn at the bottom and then a 4 km rolling ride to the finish where tea, cake and sandwiches awaited us.
I finished at 18:25 and just before it got really dark. I was 9hrs 8mins on the bike and 10hrs 25mins end to end. Fairly pleased with that given the wind conditions.
The Malmesbury Mash was my second Calendar** Audax of the year. It is a 125mile/200km Audax starting at Cardiff Gate and taking the main roads through Newport and out to Chepstow, before riding over Hawkesbury Moor to Malmesbury, and then returning to Cardiff via Slimbridge. The route and elevation ride are shown below:
I was up at 05:15 to get ready and have some breakfast before driving to Cardiff Gate for a 07:00 start. I arrived at about 06:30 and spent the next 20minutes getting dressed and making sure my bike was ready for the days ride.
At 07:00 we were off, there was about 50-60 of us doing the ride, most of whom I would not see for the rest of the day. The ride out to Chepstow and over the Severn Bridge was relatively quick and uneventful, with no real hills to speak of. Once over the bridge we continued eastwards towards Malmesbury. It was still quite flat when we hit Hawkesbury Moor with the ride up to Somerset Mount at 43 miles/69km being the first big test of the day with gradients of between 8 and 10% for the final kilometer of the climb. By this time the mist had come down so there was no view to be appreciated when we got to the top. Once at the top of the climb it was downhill all the way into Malmesbury. By the time I reached Malmesbury at 55miles/89km I was on an average of 16mph. Amanda’s Cafe provided some very fine bacon, eggs, toast and tea before setting off north east to Slimbridge. On leaving Malmesbury it was uphill for the next 12miles/18km although at a gentle but relentless gradient of between 1 and 3%. On reaching the peak of that climb there was an immediate and exhilirating 2.5mile/4km twisty downhill stretch reaching speeds of up to 40mph and gradients of 15%, before a steady final few miles out to Slimbridge and a pub stop for a cider and some crisps. I was still doing well by this point averaging 15mph with 77miles/125km completed. Only 50 fairly flattish miles back to my car now. Thats when my legs decided to start complaining and the next 25miles/40km back to Chepstow were painful and not pleasant. Maybe it was the cider, maybe a lack of food, I don’t know! In Chepstow there was a quick stop to take on some “fuel” with a Pasty and a bottle of Coke, and I was on my way again feeling much better and Imade good progress back to Newport and then on to cardiff. I completed the 125mile/200km ride at an average of 14.5mph, arriving back at 16:45.
All in all a good day out on the bike which I was very pleased with. I did come away from the ride with some lessons learnt 1) knowing that if I am to go further I need to get more miles in between Audaxes, 2) probably best not to drink cider while on a ride and 3) that I need to lose some weight !!!
There is only one cycle ride that matters this year, it starts on Sunday 30th July in London and over the period of 116hours and 40minutes goes 700km north to Edingburgh and then 700km back to the start in London, everything else is just a warm up / training for this one event.
London-Edinburgh-London (LEL2017) , the 8th edition of this event, is run under the Audax UK flag and is held once every four years and is a noncompetitive endurance cycling event. LEL2017 is the largest yet with 1500 entrants from 55 different countries. There is a time limit of 116 hours and 40 minutes which includes all food and sleep stops. The food and sleeping facilities are arranged at a number of mandatory “Controls” along the route, an advisory route which navigates through the “Controls” is provided and generally followed by the vast majority of entrants. The controls are at St Ives, Spalding, Louth, Pocklington, Thirsk, Barnard Castle, Brampton, Moffat, Edinburgh, Innerleithen, Eskdalemuir, Brampton, Barnard Castle, Thirsk, Pocklington, Louth, Spalding, St Ives and Great Easton.
LEL has been described as a contender for hardest cycling event in the United kingdom, however it is most certainly a tough sleep deprived ride known to make (one or two) grown men cry, hallucinate (are thise sheep or white lines on the road?) and wonder why on earth did I think this was a good idea. The elevation is, apparently, not too bad with only one major hill, though you do climb it going north and then on the return leg as well. The north bound elevation profile is shown below, Southbound retraces much the same route.
All I need to do now is a bit of training, set my bike up, get to the start line fit & well and I am good to go. BUT i’ll cover those another day 🙂
Being a keen recreational cyclist and wanting to do something more that just cycle for fun, I have signed up for the 2015 Tear Fund Tour of Scotland to raise money for Tearfunds Children at Risk project. This is a hilly 500 mile / 7 day cycle ride in June 2015, starting in Inverness, up to Ullapool and then working down the west coast to Glasgow. The full route can be found here.
I have pledged to raise a minimum of £500 for this cause, please consider sponsoring me using my JustGiving page.
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