Category Archives: Audax

Mile Eater Diary – January 2012

After January 2010, it was like getting an extended Christmas present with the perfect winter cycling weather that January 2011 presented. Knowing that the weather gods can give with one hand and then take back as quickly with the other, utilizing the good weather a-wheel was a must.

A first was scored, by riding the calendar version of the Poor Student 200km randonnee event from Oxford. It is a ride that is usually cursed with cold and icy conditions. This edition was positively balmy. The route is simple but effective with intermediate controls at Malmesbury and Chipping Campden. It was a chance to meet up with numerous friends, many chasing the AUK Randonneur Round the Year award. This included from the YACF forum Lycraman, having successfully completed his first in 2010 and RideHard who is aiming to obtain his first.

Unbelievably, the good weather continued and made the Willy Warmer 200km another fine day a-wheel. This is an excellent winter ride mainly on good A and B roads, with not too many secret squirrel info controls, so even in bad years it is usually rideable. The organisation as always was excellent, so a big thumbs up to Paul Stewart from the Willesden.

The weather gods were of course bound to change their minds and retract the good weather. The super freezy elves were let loose on just about the last week in January. A good day meant that its zenith at high noon reached a heady 4C. The only upside to the cold spell was little or no humidity. This translated as little or no risk of ice, so grumbling about the Sahara like conditions created by the spread but unused road salt seemed a little out of order. I closed the month with over double the mileage tally of January 2010, keeping quest to reach 200,000 recorded miles by the close of play this year on target.

In ‘things to look forward to’, my new Alfine 11 speed hub arrived. This is to re-new the rear wheel that I wore out on my Scott MTB in December after many years of faithful service over countless miles. I’m now just waiting on spokes, rims and my tame bike butler to put it all together and I can go out for a test ride.

2011 Mile Eater Diary Round-up

As ever, when the final tally for the year is totalled, you always wish it was a bit more. However, with a desperate January and February from unforeseen things like flu, complaining that 13,377 miles isn’t enough would be churlish.

Miles a-wheel of course usually equate to great memories and wonderful adventures. Within the 2011 mileage, there are heaps of both and plenty of rides with new and old cycling friends. To pick out one outstanding memory / adventure would be tough. Vying for top spot would be the inaugural Texas Stampede Rando 1200, my first ride on Casper ‘the little white Moulton’ and PBP Audax and PBP Randonneur. The two memories that stand out most are from the PBPs. The first is the unscheduled all night chase on PBP Audax with Dave Minter and  Yves, (a French rider) to get back to the peloton; achieved but with an uncomfortably close margin. The second is my last night of PBP Rando, riding with Edwin Hargreaves (on trike) to Mortagne-au-Perche trying to chase down Jim Hopper (also on trike). Although we failed in this mission, we had a party riding up hill and down, pulling back endless tail lights.

Being lucky enough to ride three international 1200s in one year ensured I met up with lots of old friends from around the world. It also gave me the opportunity to make new friends, including people that I had only ‘met’ via Twitter and blogs, such as the Daily Randonneur tandem team, Mary Gersema (Gypsy Bug) and Edward Felker. Following their escapades in the virtual reality world of the web is even better for knowing the real people.

The mileage year ended with an unforeseen splash, when Dave pointed me in the direction of the Rapha 500 challenge. With the Twitter, blogs and Strava all going, I rapidly got wrapped up in collecting kilometres and would up with a surplice at close of play. However, with the brief to collect photos and write about the week, the whole project was given an added edge that I really enjoyed.

Looking forward to 2012, there is plenty of milestones and targets out there. If the mileage gods smile kindly on me, I should hopefully reach 200,000 this December. I’ve been logging my miles since January 1999, so this will be a magic way point in my quest to become a member of the 300,000 mile club. Hopefully there will also be travel a-wheel with old friends in the UK and overseas and plenty of new friends to be found. There is also the challenge of capturing a whole 12 months a-wheel on ‘digital film’ via Flickr and Instagram, which although started late in 2011, has been a fantastic way of keeping an image diary to go along with the recorded miles.

Rapha Festive 500 2012

#Rapha500 Festive Challenge Round-up

Firstly, thanks to Dave for telling me that this was happening, otherwise I wouldn’t have known.  It’s been loads of fun and provided lots of challenges beyond turning the pedals.  Looking for photos, particularly interesting shots or shots that tell the story of the ride, has been very satisfying.  Making new ‘virtual reality friends’ via the Strava website and Twitter has been great.  So, thanks Rapha for providing a great week a-wheel at a grim time of year in the UK and I’m very much looking forward to receiving my badge.  Grand Total 919km

All the ride photos can be found on http://www.flickr.com/photos/swift_swallow/sets/72157628538061435/

Day7 31/12/2011 #Rapha500

The grand finale of the challenge and the last day of the old year to garnish the mile-eater diary.  The idea of riding on New Years Eve was very appealing.  Also, rounding the Rapha5oo up to 900km seemed like a very nice number to end on.  So, despite grey skies (again!!!) and the usual pesky wind, I went out for my final ride of the year.  Visiting New Years Green Lane seemed like an appropriate thing to do, so I did.  Having arrived home with 57km in the bag, some grocery shopping needed to be done.  The Brompton and a further 10km beckoned, giving a fun finish to the riding as I dashed back from Sainbugs on a pink Bromie with its front bag loaded with groceries. Ride distance 67km – grand total 919km

Day6 30/12/2011 #Rapha500

A ride to the beech(es) seemed like a grand idea and, if I started turning the pedals early, I could avoid getting wet as the BBC weather forecast had rain scheduled for 15:00.  Unfortunately, the weather failed to read the forecast and decided to commence raining just as I was heading over to Burnham Beeches, about an hour into my ride.  I kept going, deciding that getting wet was just going have to be part of the day’s joys.  The sky was well and truly oversubscribed in grey rain bearing clouds.  However, that produced some beautiful moody skies and interesting refections on the Thames at Maidenhead.  Ride distance 107km – grand total 852km

Day5 29/12/2011 #Rapha500

The mile-eater gods were still calling and I figured a bigger offering might be in order, so headed for one of my favourite local rides into the Chiltern Hills.  Despite the accumulation of kms in the legs and a substantial headwind with on-and-off rain for the first half of the ride, my legs were both willing and able.  The ride took me past some local sights, including the Liberty family home (Liberty & Co store, Regents Street, London) and Chequers, the PM’s country retreat. Ride distance 114km – grand total 745km

Day4 28/12/2011 #Rapha500

The mile-eater gods were calling, so I persuaded my trusty winter stead that another spin was in order.  A pleasant undulating ride through favourite lanes seemed like just the ticket, so a pleasant morning a-wheel was had in the lanes of Buckinghamshire.  The pesky headwind, an unwanted, but now familiar riding partner, was happy to accompany me for a good part of the ride. Ride distance 73km – grand total 631km

Day3 27/12/2011 #Rapha500

Finally the weather gods had chosen to be kind and had left the wind alone, so provided a helpful backwind for the Holiday 200kn DIY ride home.  A scenic ride (take that as euphemism for hills) was enjoyed, but with slate grey skies again.  The highlight of the ride was a spot of steam train spotting on the GWR railway (http://www.gwsr.com/) just after Gotherington.  The CTC recommended Edwards Cafe provided it’s usual excellent service and food to fortify us for the final push home through the roads of Oxfordshire, up Stoken Church and onto the roads of Buckinghamshire and into Middlesex.  Ride distance 203km – grand total 558km

Day3 26/12/2011 #Rapha500

Following  a hearty breakfast, the peloton assembled at Munsely Acre for the Boxing Day spin to the Boat pub with the promise of good ale and cider in store.  The peloton of 8 riders, ably led by Bob “Eccles” Addison took a beautiful route of lanes to and back from the Boat.  During the ride, the pssst fairy delivered two late Christmas presents to Eccels and Derek Jelley.  Ride distance 70km – grand total 355km

Day3 25/12/2011 #Rapha500

Despite asking Santa for a goodly tailwind for Christmas, a powerful headwind with a touch of drizzle blew in our faces until just after Gloucester which was roughly 30km from the arrivee and a kindly backwind installed itself.  Perhaps not a perfect day for the Crimbo 200km DIY, but a serious improvement on the snowy conditions of 2009 and 201o.  A warm welcome, a pint of “energy drink” and an excellent Christmas dinner awaited us at the Munsely Acre Guest house, hosted by Mark and Anne Brazier, where we were staying with the Marlboro AC Christmas holiday group.  Ride distance 203km – grand total 285km

Day2 24/12/2011 #Rapha500

Twas the night before Christmas and as a well known store says “every little helps” so sneaked out for a crafty 10km to raid Sainsbugs.  Bike with panniers was perfect as no parking issues and quick get-a-way as Pinner was at a grinder with cars.

Fettling bikes and packing baby panniers for tomorrow’s spin to downtown Munsley.  Weather looks promising providing it keeps to the BBC weather predictions. Ride distance 10km – grand total 82km

Day1 23/12/2011 #Rapha500

The weather (rain scheduled for high noon) dictated an early start and a race to get home before the rain, so the pedles started turning just after 9am. Despite a slate grey sky and the usual pesky nagging headwind, a great morning a-wheel was had around the lanes of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

At close of play, 72km in the bag (and on the trusty Garmin). The days bonus was that the rain doesn’t read the BBC weather forecast, so didn’t show up until about 12:30, so meant only 30 minutes of getting wet. Downside was that the normal weekday quite roads were infested with motorists on pre Christmas missions, which on too many occasions involved involved closer contact that I would have liked.

Christmas list to Santa updated with a request for a tail wind between home and Ledbury for the next ride scheduled for Christmas Day. Ride distance 72km – grand total 72km

The Bike Show – PBP show2

Jack Thurston, DJ of “The Bike Show” on Resonance FM, kindly invited three AUKs (Dave Minter, Pete Kelsey and me) plus Chris Ragsdale, a sub-45 hour vedette from the Seattle International Randonneurs to guest on his second PBP programme on Monday 17th October 2011.

Resonance FM’s studios are located in Southwark, London just beyond London Bridge. As ever, any excuse for an urban mini adventure on the pink Brommie was grasped firmly with both hands. With BikeHub navigating me, I had a wonderful ride to the studio. The route took me across the heart of London’s shopping districts, through Chinatown and, to finish, wonderful cobbled roads as skinny as boot laces. The icing on the cake was swinging past the Golden Hind, which looked very majestic in it’s almost-dry dock.

I’d never met Jack before. I was told by a mutual friend that Jack is ‘such a nice guy’, which was bang on. Prior to doing the live half hour programme, he made us all feel very comfortable about what to expect and what to do.

With Jack’s expert guidance and ability to create an interesting and captivating radio programme on the move, he pulled the diverse PBP experiences of all four of us together. You can catch up with Monday’s programme via http://thebikeshow.net/paris-brest-paris-part-two/.

Post-show, we went to a local pub for a couple of “sherbets” and a bite to eat. Talking to Jack over one or maybe two pints was brilliant. He is a very diverse cyclist from the urban commute to wild cycle-camping and just about anything in between. If you have the time, I would really recommend either regularly catching the show live on a Monday night 18:30 to 17:00 on Resonance FM 104.4 or via the podcast on http://thebikeshow.net. He also does the Twitter thing.

PBP Audax ride schedule

Sunday 7th August 2011

Bike check & issue brevet cards 14 to 18h
Briefing 21h30
Depart 22h00

Departing from Centre sportif Pierre de Coubertin, 2 rue Charles Linne, 78180 Montigney-le-Bretonneux

Abridge route schedule

Town Arrivee Depart km
Montigny-le-Bretonneux
Sun 22:00 0
Boncourt Mon 00:41 Mon 00:56 60.4
Verneil-sur-Arve Mon 02:54 Mon 04:09 105.4
Sees Mon 07:07 Mon 07:37 172.4
Domfront Mon 10:50 Mon 12:10 238.4
Ducey Mon 14:43 Mon 14:49 292.4
Dol-de-Bretagne Mon 16:38 Mon 16:54 333.9
Plenan-le-Petit Mon 18:44 Mon 18:59 374.9
St Brieuc Mon 21:01 Tues 03:45 420.9
Belle isle-en-terre Tues 06:12 Tues 06:42 476.4
St Thegonnec Tues 08:50 Tues 09:05 522.4
Brest Tues 11:10 Tues 12:30 569.4
Sizun Tues 14:19 Tues 14:34 607.9
Roc-Trevezel Mar 15:19 622.9
Scrignac Tues 16:20 Tues 16:35 645.9
Belle isle-en-terre Tues 18:11 Tues 18:26 681.9
St Brieuc Tues 20:43 Tues 03:45 733.4
Dinan Wed 06:39 Wed 07:09 793.4
St James Wed 09:57 Wed 10:12 856.4
Domfront Wed 12:56 Wed 14:16 913.4
Sees Wed 17:17 Wed 17:32 981.4
Montagne au Perche Wed 19:03 Thur 02:45 1015.4
Damville Thur 06:19 Thur 06:34 1092.9
Boncourt Thur 08:03 Thur 08:19 1126.4
Montagne au Perche Thur 11:00
1186.8

For the complete route schedule, see www.audax-uaf.com

Casper the little white Moulton’s first kms

Between the wonderful expertise of Dan Farrell and his crew at Moulton building the frame and Dave Minter bolting on the components, Casper is now a complete and rideable machine.  Next step, road testing to put him through his paces and check that nothing vital was going to jump ship during PBP audax and rando.

As with all bikes, there are a few things mechanical that on the work stand are fine but, on the road, needed tweaking.  These were found and resolved on a pleasant 100km ride over to friends.

Casper on route≠64

Then came the main tests.  Firstly a 200km DIY ride from Oxfordshire, over to the Cotswolds, then through the Chilterns to home.  Then to really check that nothing was going to work loose on the roads of France, a 100km ride using the Sustrans paths of Hertfordshire (route 64), much of it off road.

Casper performed brilliantly throughout the various roads, hills and paths of the first 400km.  He was quick along the flat, descended like a demon, cornered on tramlines and figured he might just be Pantani when going up hills!

Casper

After only a few rides a-wheel, Casper is challenging the beloved Robbie (my Roberts S&S coupled bike) as my favourite stead out of the one or perhaps many I have to choose from.

Ladies First

UAF audaxes have ride captains, chosen by the ride organiser.   The purpose of the ride captains (the Centenaire du Tourmalet had four) is to lead the peloton of up to 150 riders at a 22.5 kph average, to ensure the scheduled stop times in controls are met and to get as close as possible to 100% homologations for the ride.  From time to time, the ride captains invite riders as ‘guests’ to assist at the front of the peloton, considered a bit of an honour.

I’ll be a ride captain for the second session of PBP Audax 2011.  Few women have done this and to date no english-speaking riders.  So while it is brilliant to be chosen, it also comes with a scary amount of responsibility.

Regular ride updates will be made during the ride, so watch the Twitter space on The Brevet Bird from the 7th to 11th August 2011.

For further information on PBP Audax go to http://www.audax-uaf.com/cyclo/pages/PBP2011large.htm

Up & Coming Rides

PBP Audax, 7th to 11th August 2011

This runs every five years, not to be confused with PBP Randonneaur; for further information on the ride and Les Union Audax Francais (UAF) see  http://www.audax-uaf.com/cyclo/pages/PBP2011large.htm

PBP Randonneur, 21st to 25th August 2011

This runs every four years; for further information see http://www.paris-brest-paris.org/pbp2011/index.php