Monday, 28 September 2009

Wonderful Welland

As a 50km introduction to Audax, my wife found the Welland Wonder 50 an excellent event a couple of years ago, and given that she is keen to 'up the mileage' we returned to the scene of the crime this year.

50's are an eclectic mix of more serious riders having a short day, inexperienced audaxers, and those just out to have a nice day out. This one was no different.

On the day we started off at a steady pace in a small group including my wife and I, her sister on her first organised event on her new(ish) mountain bike, Marmite Geoff on his first ride back following an angioplasty, and a bunch of others including a young lad name of Harry riding in the back of his dad's Freight 8. "Freight what?" I hear you asking.....see below.

Yes, it seems there are folk madder than I still at large in the community. We were right royally entertained by Harry on the way round, being tasked with remembering the entire cast of Scooby Doo (he has all the characters) whilst trying to look good as Harry brandished the digital camera at the following posse.

Towards the end of the ride we lost them briefly as the driver had to engage the 12-inch gear (two feet) up the steepest of the hills, but they arrived back only five minutes behind us.

Toward the end of the ride Elaine (my sister in law) came to realise and understand the formula of n+1. This is the formula used to calculate the optimum number of bicycles to own, where n is the number you already have. To quote "If I'm going to do a 100km event, I shall need a road bike". Another convert returns from the 'dark side'.

We both found the course easier than last time, so progress is definitely still being made, and Linda didn't 'nearly get off her bike' this time, coping admirably with the hills.

Oh yes, and the sun shone too.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Still plodding on

In the weeks since LEL, I have taken a hastily booked camping holiday in Brittany (sunny weather for the whole 8 days, bliss) and returned to work to be inundated with projects and associated tasks.

Couple this with preparations for issuing eldest son back to Uni, and Uni visits so that middle son can decide where he wants to go next year, and cycling opportunities have been much curtailed.

RTTY jeopardised. By the time that my diary cleared, there were no 200's in the Audax calendar, and it was too late to get another 2 Battles Permanent organised.

Enter The Midlands Mesh. The Mesh is a collection of selected towns ("nodes") with limited routes to other nodes from each of them. All selected routes have an allowable minimum distance (but can ride a more roundabout route if you wish) and by linking them, you can build your own DIY 200, 300 etc.

Sorted. 23rd August saw my first DIY 200, a route from Home to Measham, Southam, Stow on the Wold, Stratford on Avon, back to home for 212km total.

Weather, as usual, was windy, especially in the first half to destroy any hope of fast finishing later. The first sections contained most of the days main roads, including the usually busy A444 through Nuneaton. On a Sunday morning at 8:30, its thankfully quieter.

Having made good time to Southam, the leg to Stow really reared up on us. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to gradient than shortest distance? Either way, there's no avoiding the final hill into Stow from Broadwell. In the opposite direction, I always find this a case of playing chicken to see how long the brakes can be left alone. Heading into Stow, I climbed it about 5 minutes slower that Ray & Bob, my riding companions for the day, and reached the top wheezing like a broken-winded horse. Not good, but at least the top is only 200 metres from the Tesco's which serves as lunchtime control.

Fed and watered, we launched ourselves towards Stratford on Avon along some of my favourite edge-of-the-Cotswolds roads (or should that be "down some of my favourite edge-of-the -Cotswolds hills?) reaching Stratford (35km) in 77 minutes, the fastest leg of the day.

That was the end of the good news, as the headwind had taken its toll and sapped the strength from legs. With the exception of Bob, who was on his Titanium Flying Machine and ripped our legs off, throwing them into a field. We simply couldn't keep up with him, and this is a man who's own legs fell off in an Audax of lesser distance. Note to self: When Bob has one on him, stay home.

We had almost reached home after 10 hours 25 minutes out, when Bob spied the Railway Inn and uttered the magic B word. 25 minutes later, powered by beer (and peanuts) normal service was resumed and we veritably sped back to the start for an elapsed time of 10:52.

Satisfied. 10/12 of the RTTY done and time to start planning the uplift of miles for the next 2 months to hit the targets I didn't dare hope for at the start of the year.

2 more 200's will give me my RTTY. An additional 500km, ridden as a 200 and a 300, will give me the Randonneur 5000 Award for 5000km ridden in events of 200km or greater in the 12 months. I'll never get this close again, so I have to go for it.

Next up:
19/9 Welland Wonder 50km with my good lady wife
20/9 DIY 200km for Septembers RTTY ride
26/9 Beyond Shropshire 208km with over 3,000 metres of climbing (ouch!)
3/10 Over & Over The Trent. Mrs H's 2009 100km Audax Ride
4/10 Rourkies Cat & Fiddle Challenge
Sometime in the week of 19/10 a DIY 300 down to Newent from Tamworth
25/10 Horseshoe Pass 200km, and the R5000 qualifier.

Its a good plan. Watch something come along and spoil it.