Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Bryan Chapman Memorial 600km audax

After last years failed attempt and helping out at the control at Dolgellau I was offered free entry for this years ride. So with the Friday booked off work this year it was that time again to head west towards Chepstow and the start of the Bryan Chapman memorial 600km audax ride.
The train ride via Birmingham went without a hitch and it was a lovely 15km ride to the Severn view travelodge. A walk to the local pub with some other riders for food and a couple of pints and an early night ready for the early start the next morning.

The alarm went off at 04.30 and it was a short ride over the Severn bridge for the start at 06.00. The community centre was packed with about 100 riders waiting for the off and after the quick pep talk by Mark we were off.
The first 75km section over to Bronllys was fast and I found myself near the front of the queue at the cafe, the average for that bit was 28.2kph and too fast for me on a 600 but it was fun :-)

After a quickish stop I was on my way again and took the slightly longer route the other side of the river to Builth Wells, this was suggested on yacf as a better route. As I cycled along it almost traffic free I could see queues of cars and fast overtakes on the main road behind people that took the other route. This was only about 2km longer and had a couple of short sharp hills along the way but was much better.
On through Rhyader and over the hills towards Aberystwyth and the next control for more food to prepare me for the mountains of Snowdonia.
These were to start not far after the stop, once past Machynlleth the road started to climb past Cadair Idris. I'm not a natural climber and it was hard work in the sun winching myself upwards. The descent down to Dolgellau was more fun though and I arrived at Kings youth hostel feeling a bit rough but not too bad.
A change of clothes from the bag drop ready for the evening/night section more food eaten and away again for the top loop.
I was called back as I had missed the turn for the station and Barmouth bridge and a dropped chain off the granny ring had me walking a short section uphill at Penrhyndeudreath.
The climb out of Beddgelert up Pen Y Pas was hard work as my stomach was still playing up just like on the last audax where food seemed to be sitting high up and not digesting.
It did seem like I'd slowed down a lot on this section but looking at the time from 2yrs ago I was only about 15 behind that 314km done and over half way completed.
On with the coat and into the dark as I'd spent far too long at Menia. After about 30 minutes I stopped for a rest in a bus shelter as I was still feeling bad. I felt ok when I stopped pedalling just sick when on the bike.
A stop a bit further down the road for another 20 minutes then it was into the rain for the worst section of the ride over the mountain past Llyn Trawsfynydd reservoir and powerstation.
The rain was getting harder now and I was soaked through and cold.
Add to this tiredness and I was ready to pack it all in when I got back to Kings YH.
The descent off of the top was really bad as I was shivering and finding it hard to keep the bike on the road and myself awake also. I eventually got back there after nearly 12hrs (for 160km) and the first thing I did was put on dry shorts and shirt. Then it was eat and sleep before deciding whether to pack or not.
Managed to get a bed just after 5 as they were vacated by some faster riders and woken up at 7.15 to bright sunshine, some sleep and a couple of bacon sandwiches and I was ready to go again feeling a lot better than I did 3hrs earlier.
Stopped at the garage for drinks before the 1st climb of the day up past Cross Foxes. I walked the last 500m or so of it as did a few others, the top speed of the ride was 92.3kph down the other side on the brakes, great fun.

Following the GPS track I missed the next control at Aberhafesp and had to ask a local where it was. Then it was out through Newtown and up over the highest point of the ride, a bit of an anticlimax after all of the excellent scenery of North Wales. Nether or less it did earn me a great downhill section again as I swooped past groups of riders with a big grin.
It was now into the lanes of Herefordshire and they were crap compared to the smooth tarmaced roads of Wales and slowed the speed down no end.
I was looking forward to a section of rollers later that was fun the last time I did it and I wanted to see how I did on them this year. I hit them fast this year and managed to crest about 3 of them in almost top gear but as they come at about 570km into the ride and it's not advisable to do what seemed like interval training on them. It was fun but my legs didn't like it one bit and I walked the last one at Llancloudy.
So near the end but so far from the finish, the last bit along the Wye valley from Monmouth through Tintern and up to Chepstow is only 25km but the 1.5hrs it took seemed to go on forever.

I got to the finish at at 20.20, 30 minutes faster than last time which was a surprise considering how I felt throughout the night section. I had a moving average of 22.5kph over the whole 625kms which was better than the 19.5 of 2 yrs ago.
So far so good for the 1200 in july.

Day one profile

Day 2 profile

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

200km audax ride to Ely.

The weather was still bad and after looking out of the window at 05.00 I decided to do a shorter ride than the 300km I'd planned to do up to Newark and back. The headwind that slowed us down on the local ride on Sunday was still blowing.

After breakfast I eventually got out the door and left the garage at 08.00 heading northwards into the wind to Olney stopping for a bit to chat to a friend about his new bike (Bacchetta Giro 26 ATT) the same bike as mine but lighter and faster :-)
At Olney the headwind seemed to still be in front of me as I turned NE and it was the same all the way to the halfway point at Ely. Just for good measure it rained and hailed on me also.

I was hoping it would be a good ride home with a tailwind but this only seemed to last for the ride down Twenty Pence lane whilst heading for Cambridge. When turning right for Gamlingay it was at my side again and felt more of a hindrance than a help.

The ride back through Biggleswade, Shefford, Flitick, up and over the Greensand Ridge and Woburn park was hard work. Whether this was due to the earlier headwind or just my legs still being tired I wasn't sure.
I still got around in under 10hrs with 2hrs off of the bike so it wasn't too bad.
Although I've since found the new rear brake pads I put in after the Severn Across ride last week were rubbing a bit and stopping the wheel spinning freely!!

Moral of the story is "check the bike before you go out on long rides :-D"

FSoTM ride to Salcey Forest

The forecast for Sunday was horrible so I did wonder if anyone would bother turning up at the bandstand for the ride.
I was there at about 9.50 and just kept riding round in circles to keep warmish.
The bandstand itself didn't offer any weather protection as the rain was blowing straight through it.

2 others turned up and we left a few minutes after 10.00. On the way past Tesco I noticed a rider in my mirror, another mad audax cyclist who happens to be my local councillor.

It was still cold and one of the riders decided to leave us at Granby and head home, the headwind was hard and against us all the way. It was slowing the speed down and making progress hard. Another left us just after Haversham as he didn't want to hold us up.
So in the end it was just me and Andy left to finish the ride, the rain stopped but the headwind kept up all the way there. It did help us on the way back though.

A good ride out, it was a shame more didn't brave the elements but I'll expect to see more than the usual amount out on the June ride. It usually has a good turnout as part of the Parks Trust easy rider programme