I decided over winter to do something different this year. It's not that I have fallen out of love of Audax, but after another PBP year, I just couldn't find inspiration in it.
What has inspired me ever more is the concept of ultra-racing and fast touring.
I hope to put together an attempt on the race, sooner rather than later, and really wanted to explore what happens to my mind and body when I ride for longer than the longest of Audax events.
The longest Audax event I have yet ridden was the 1400km London-Edinburgh-London ride, which I completed in under 95 hours. So that's 350km a day, but only for 4 days on the trot.
What happens if I go shorter distances each day (I am pretty sure I couldn't keep that pace up for much longer!), but for many more days? How does the body feel? How about looking after boring things like keeping (reasonably!) clean, bike maintenance etc.
My original target was to look at something around 2700km in 10 days. This would put me on a 25-26 day schedule for TransAm (i.e. not in it to win it, but a solid mid-field performance!).
This year has been pretty demanding (aren't they always?!?) with having to relocate my main business premises on a very tight schedule and various other demands on my time. So, as the ride got closer, I had to admit to myself that 270km a day was probably a little overly ambitious and cut it down to a 2500km ride. I stuck with my original plan of riding to the Mediterranean coast of France and back, but cut out travelling down via Mont Ventoux.
The route still involved a stack of hills across the Massif Centrale, so actually cutting out that 200km and Mont Ventoux did not make an enormous difference to the ascent figure I was expecting of around 30000m.
I planned to do it all under the same rules as TransAm, TransCon etc. (basically no support, look after everything yourself), so had nothing booked beyond the ferry out to France. I was on my own with only a bivvy bag, some cash and a credit card if the shit really hit the fan.
What followed was certainly an adventure. I'll try and keep it brief on the day to day side of things, and then some general conclusions.