Saturday, 2 January 2010

Another Year Done

and time to close down yet another blog.

So what did 2009 bring? Well, certainly it didn't bring any reduction in Body Mass, that will have to be sorted out in 2010. But apart from that, 2009 was a year that just about delivered everything I set out to do.

LEL was completed within the timescale, and without a step walked pushing the bike, something I dared not hope for when I first felt its fully laden weight. The supplementary goal of 5,000km in Audax events was achieved on the last possible day (it seems the noble art of brinkmanship is alive and well), and the RTTY was completed at the first time of asking. All in all a pretty good year.

Things I shall remember:
The buzz of LEL
The weather in Scotland (but not for good reasons)
The companionship of like minded buffoons on that ride.
Riding through snow on top of the Cotswold on the Poor Student Audax in January
The pain of cramped ribs just yards from the top of Mow Cop
Just how fabulous (and hilly) Cornwall is to ride across
The sheer enjoyment of being out on the bike and not driving a desk

Things I shall (unsuccessfully) try to forget:
Trench foot after riding 34 hours of rain on the Cambrian Audax
Just how much my backside hurt towards the end of LEL
How it took me 11 (yes, 11) hours to finish the Etape du Dales this time around

And I have a few things to show for it:
Its a pretty awful picture, but I have:
i) Audax 50km medal
ii) Audax 100km medal
iii) Audax 200 km medal
iv) Audax 300km medal
v) Audax 600km medal
vi) Audax 1000km medal (all for single events)
vii) Randonneur Through The Year badge, for riding a 200km in every calendar month for a year
viii) Super Randonneur Badge for riding distances of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km in a year (I didn't ride a 400, but substituted a 1400 instead so it still counts)
ix) Randonneur 5,000 award for riding 5,000km in events of 200km or greater
x) Gold Grimpeur Badge for riding an event with stupid amounts of climbing (I also got the Bronze and Silver in other events)
xi) London-Edinburgh-London finishers medal

The two spaces on the top row are for the 150km medal and the 400km medal, both of which I shall aim for in 2010.

Not a bad little collection for a fat bloke, who is still a fat bloke despite a record mileage of 4,662 for the year. Now on to 2010. I shall, of course, start another blog (link top right) for 2010's madness, which will be there in all it's gory detail soon enough.

Until then, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. After all, if you do it today and like it, you can do it again tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

To Blog or not to Blog

That is the question.

As 2009 winds down, and cycling becomes scarcer, thoughts turn to the years achievements, and what I intend to do next year.

Some are fixed on their plans, aiming for Etapes, or similar. As yet, I have no such plans and haven't really thought about what would fit best. Certainly, there will be a family holiday (with what's left of the family with the older 2 not wishing to come along) and this will definitely involve bikes. Currently it looks as if it may also include Alpe d'Huez as we are looking to go to Bourg d'Oisans in July/August.

Beyond that, I don't know. I think there may well be a lot more 100's next year, as Linda wishes to gear up her cycling. And I have the Tamworth Audaxes to organise. That may well eat some time.

As to whether it is worth blogging such a lack of commitment, that's debatable, though it may serve to keep me honest through the year.

I guess I need to do some thinking (and planning).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

In search of 'Proof'

Shortly after failing to collect all of my required documentary proof, I noted from Yet Another Cycling Forum that the local Permanent Ride Convener, Danial Webb, was looking to recommend to the Audax powers-that-be that GPS tracks should be acceptable for 'proof' that a permanent ride had been completed.

Other arguments ranged from "definitely not" to "only to prove detours to add the requisite km".

Thus a plea was submitted. "Could I submit my existing receipts, backed up by the GPS track (fully consistent with said receipts) and take the GPS track as proof of visiting Stratford?"

Answer: "I'll ask."

A couple of days elapsed, and the following response was received. "Audax always look to validate rides, not to invalidate them. This should be OK".

The validated card has now been received, and it is official.

I HAVE MY 5,000KM AWARD for 2008/2009. Chuffed!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Life's Little Ups and Downs (mostly downs)

Saturday 31st dawned, Ray cried off. Another lonely 200 beckoned.

At least on this occasion I had cobbled together a route that contained some new roads, and therefore a bit more interest. Sure, I would be riding some roads well travelled on Audax events during the year, but the roads joining them together were new to me.

A 7:25 start was a little later than anticipated, but I was trying to keep riding in the dusk to a minimum as I am currently without my nice SuperNova Dynamo Light. That semi-died on the Cider with Rosie Audax when its capacitor blew. It's currently (subject to the foibles of the mail system) in Germany being repaired (and upgraded) free of charge. Love it.

The first sections to Market Harborough were lumpy, and it took until 10:30 to do the first 65km, but at least that meant Subway was open when I got there. The road to Southam was a "curates egg", good in parts. The section before Rugby was good, and largely quiet, the section afterwards maddeningly busy with dangerous traffic. I was even forced onto a cycle lane for a short section.

I made Southam by 12:45 and Stratford by 14:15, only 60km to go and the 5,000km award was in the bag! I know the road back from Stratford well, but it rarely takes as long as the three hours it took that afternoon. Such, I suppose, was the payback for being ill earlier in the week.

Nevertheless, I checked in at the local cashpoint for the finish receipt with an elapsed time of 9 hours 50.

I retreated home feeling chuffed. After eating I dragged together the receipts to attach them to the Brevet Card and despatch then to our local organiser, Danial, and get my official ratification.

The way that such rides work is that you obtain receipts/proof of passage at commercial establishments along the route to prove you were there, adding up the pre-ordained distances to get the allowed ride length.

Imagine my horror to discover no receipt or proof of passage from Stratford on Avon, and therefore no verifiable 200km to add to my running total and get the 5000km award. Like a wally, I had not picked up the receipt from the garage in Stratford, had no proof of passage and, worse still no more days on which to do another qualifying ride.

I have never felt so utterly dejected and miserable.

Always have a Plan 'B'

Having the last week of October off work coincides nicely with half term. It also gives you time to think about how to fit in your last 200km ride before the end of the Audax year on 31st October.

Thus, with a bit of planning, a route of Tamworth, Measham, Market Harborough, Southam, Stratford, Tamworth for eaxctly 200km took shape. And doing it on the Saturday would give me optimum recovery time whilst still fitting the ride into the Audax Year.

Game Back On.

The Best Laid Plans

as the saying goes "Gang Aft Agley". Or translated into modern English, often end up down the toilet. Literally.

The plan for Horseshoe Pass Audax Weekend was a bit involved. Matthew (middle son) was attending Teesside Uni for an Open Day prior to making his UCAS choices on the Saturday, the Audax was the Sunday.

GPS was plotted (properly) earlier in the week, and we decamped to the Land of the Prince Bishops (County Durham.....this is educational y'know) on the Friday to stay overnight at the el-cheapo TravelLodge. You gets what you paid for, and we obviously hadn't paid for much sleep. Breakfast at the neighbouring Little Chef (more of THAT later) resumed some semblance of normal service, and off we trotted to look around the Uni.

Curiosity sated, we set off on the return journey mid-afternoon and arrived back home early evening after which bike prepping was hastily done and car packed for the following morning.

I retreated to bed at about 10 p.m., and stayed there about 4 hours. The wee small hours of the Sunday are best glossed over, but I know now why the lavvy and the washbasin are next to one another. I don't think I have ever felt quite so ill, and despite my every effort to the contrary (including getting up at 6 a.m. to get dressed) the Audax simply wasn't happening. I spent the whole of the Sunday being poorly, the eventual culprit suspected to be Little Chef Baked Beans which was the only thing I had eaten that no-one else had.

I felt wiped out until about the Tuesday, but worse still I had missed the last 200km event in the Audax Calendar.

Another One Bites the Dust

Another Saturday, another 200km, this time the reverse of an earlier Mesh doing Tamworth, Stratford, Stow, Alcester, Measham, Tamworth.

The Mesh map would have this as being 213km, but going the opposite way round would have meant climbing some stoopid hills instead of descending them, so I took slight detours both to ease the climbs and divert to the better descents.

Saturday started cloudy but not too cold so I went with the fingerless summer gloves. By the time I had done 25 miles the cloud had cleared enough to give clear sky overhead, but not enough to allow the sun access to the road. The temperature headed down VERY rapidly. 10 miles out from Stratford, I could not even feel my fingers, and I haven't yet got the hang of cycling along with my hands down my bibshorts to warm them up. Besides, that sounds like a really good way of getting stopped by the Old Bill.

Further kilometers added to retreat to Costa in Stratford for food and warming coffee. 25 minutes later and some serious clutching of an oversize coffee mug had returned the feeling to the fingers. Leaving the coffee shop, the temperature was by now that couple of degrees warmer and the fingers were no problem for the rest of the day. I added kilometers to go round Chipping Campden rather than ascend the killer climb past the quarry, riding along 5 Mile Drive on the top of the Cotswolds to arrive in Stow well before midday and going very well.

A swift turnaround towards Alcester led to the choice of avoiding the descent of Saintbury Hill (narrow & slippery) in favour of Fish Hill (wide and long with sweeping 180 degree bends) where we did some training for the descents of last year's Etape. Brilliant. 40mph and catching cars round the corners.

Once out on the flat stuff, the hammer stayed down, and I passed through home on the way to Measham well ahead of schedule. 50 minutes later the ride was over, 9 hours and 50 minutes elapsed for 223km. My fastest 200km ride of the year and well over distance.

One more down, only one event to go.