I've held off putting this on the blog as I had submitted it for inclusion in the Audax UK magazine - it has now been published in there, so here's the gory details: There's also some Strava data here:
The 2012-13 season is just about over in the UK. It's been a great season personally, and for Audax in general, very successful it seems with a marvellous array of events including a very well-received LEL.
I did it! There will not be a full blog report on this ride for a little while. As I was the first British rider to attempt one of these rides, I hope to drum up some interest in tackling these adventures with an article in Arrivée (the AUK quarterly magazine). If that gets published, I will put up a copy here.
It has been quite a season for sure. I've ridden the Wessex SR, the Pendle, LEL, gone hyper - it's been great.
I want to end the season, and my 40th birthday celebrations on a high note. When I was 18, I toured the Eastern Pyrenees on a mountain bike for 3 weeks. So, a return to Pyrenees seemed a good plan - and I found just the thing.
I'd slept well at Edinburgh. I'd had a great shower, got dry clean clothes (another drop bag was here) and managed to get a good 4 hour sleep. It was fairly quiet still at the control, with many riders probably stopping a control or two earlier. A bit of breakfast, some slightly moist clothes and I was ready to head off into what looked like a mixed day.
3 years after I rode my first ever Audax (a 150km out of Bushey) and started to hear about the really long stuff, here it was, the one I had planned to ride from the very start. When I first started, I was struggling to get around a 200, I had discounted the idea of riding PBP as I couldn't even conceive of riding a 300 at that point. The fact that I'd be 40 in 2013 meant that LEL appealed and I had decided to ride it before I even decided to ride PBP in 2011!
This 300 was originally put on by Ian from Willesden as a training run for PBP. The terrain closely matched much of northern France (gently rolling hills with lots and lot of fields). It was run this year as a warm up for LEL (covering some of the same areas as LEL will, though very few of the actual roads).
Now I have got most of the main rides I wanted to do this this season out of the way, I can turn my attention towards LEL finally! I have 1 300km ride this weekend, out of Baldock and then that's it really until LEL. I will keep the legs working with harder, faster short rides.
The Pendle had sat teasing me in the AUK calendar all season. I knew I wanted to ride it, but didn't know if I could ride it. Last year was it's first running and the reports from those who had ridden it made it sound amazing, but very challenging. These were some of the real hard men of Audax saying it was the hardest thing they had ever done. Could this ride be beyond me?
The Wessex Series has been very special so far. Challenging, but rewarding. I've nearly got a tear in my eye now it's all finished. As soon as it was announced that the series would run as calendar events to celebrate 20 years since the original series, I knew I would have to make it a target for my 2013 season.
So after having been noisily awoken, I couldn't get back to sleep - so I got up and looked out of the window. It looked like a warm day was on the cards, so I dumped some warmer stuff into my drop bag and put on a short sleeve jersey and arm warmers instead of my long sleeved jersey I'd been wearing the previous day.
Ever since I first started riding Audax in late 2010, there is one ride in the UK that, above all others, I knew I had to ride. The Bryan Chapman is the Blue Riband event in the audax calendar. A 600km ride from the south-east to north-west corners of Wales and back in a weekend.
Having done the first 2 parts of the Wessex Series a month ago (write up here ), I was both very excited and very worried about the Porkers 400. Excited as this ride has a reputation as one of the most rewarding rides in the UK and worried as it is also seen as the hardest ride of the series.
The year has been going pretty well for me so far. Anyone who's been following the blog (well done for enduring my drivel!) will have seen I have ridden a 300 in February and a 400 in March. My first 600 I had on the books was due to be the BCM in mid-May. But for various reasons, I had an idea to ride a 600 in April - my girlfriend being happy for me to be out of the house so she can get on with writing papers for her Masters, the Strava spring classics challenge (ride 13 hundred and something km in April). After a bit of thinking, I decided to ride the Green and Yellow Fields 300km event from Manningtree near Colchester and ECE it to 600km.
Despite LEL being my big ride for the year, I have been looking forward to the Wessex Super Randonneur Series much more than LEL. I have been hoping that they'd be a real highlight for the year.
So, the next couple of weekends, I won't be able to ride much (next weekend, a 40th birthday party for yours truly and the weekend after, I am away for my actual birthday) - so I was keen to get some miles in. I have had a desire to do a ride up to somewhere on the LEL route and then ride home. I decided on Kirton to give a roundtrip of around 400 km (my actual controls were 424 shortest distance).
This year looks to be an interesting year - I'm pretty fired up for it already. It started a bit limply, but I feel I am getting into my stride, and my 300km DIY last weekend has given me a renewed confidence for the season ahead. One big issue for long-distance cycling is balancing time between cycling and home. It is clearly a pursuit that takes a lot of time. It's not like, let's say running, where an hour or two is a very good long run. You need entire days for a good long bike ride. This can, and has, caused friction in my life for sure.
My riding hasn't gone as well as I planned this year so far, primarily down to illness and snow, meaning that I had only ridden 2 audax rides this year so far. However, I have been regularly heading to Richmond Park (about 15 minutes from my door) and attempting to ride faster, hard laps. 3 laps is almost exactly 20 miles - so if you can ride 3 laps in a hour (and it's not flat), then you're doing pretty well (some of the very fast guys on super-aero TT bikes will get times down to around 48 mins). I'm not the fastest rider in the world, and have managed 20 minute laps a few times in the past - but never strung 3 laps of 20 minutes together.
So, 2013 is a big year in many ways. I reach a milestone in life (40 years and I am still here!). When I first rode an audax back in October 2010, I had a small plan for the future. I had a goal of riding LEL (London Edinburgh London 1400km audax - http://londonedinburghlondon.com/ ) as I was going to be 40 and needed to prove that there's still some life left in me. The distance was, at that point, inconceivable. 200km was a long long way (still is). I was considering maybe trying to ride a 300km in the summer of 2011 - that was a sensible target to aim for in my first year of long-distance cycling. Well - that all went slightly wrong and I rode my frst 300 in early spring 2011 and then went on to ride PBP in the summer.