The Heart of England 307km Audax on Saturday 26th April

VC Walcot
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The Heart of England 307km Audax on Saturday 26th April
The forecast was for heavy rain and sitting eating a breakfast of cereals and toast at 3.30am it was already was crashing against the patio door.
In the car on the way up to Cirencester the conditions appeared to be getting worse but on arrival it had virtually stopped.
I had psyched myself up for many hours riding in the rain but by the time riders set off at 6am it was dry and we had sunshine virtually all day!
 
The first leg undulates northwards through the Cotswolds to Broadway tower and then after a preciptous descent off an escarpment it was a fast run into Alcester and the first control at 66km.
I rode most of this section with Carole from Cheddar who was riding her first 300km event having previously ridden a couple of 200’s. She is an endurance mountain biker and was doing this event on a CX bike with quite knobbly tyres, although this didn’t seem to impede her in any way. I spent some time at this first control stoking up with beans on toast, a couple of coffees and catching up with some old mates. Throughout the day I also kept bumping into Stewart Archard from Chippenham Wheelers who I have known for many years and it was nice to ride stretches together with his group.
 
I rode solo for the next stage which continued northwards and I really enjoyed navigating myself around the edges of Coventry and Nuneaton, but without going anywhere near built up areas it’s a very pleasant rural ride. This really is a well thought out route and sums up much of what I enjoy about riding Audax events as we get to benefit from the experience of other peoples favourite rides.
By now it was very warm but I had to stay in longs as my rack-bag was full of wet weather gear, which included a dry change of base layers that I did not need, and food. I fed as I was moving so did not bother to stop at the second control at 125km once I had got my brevet card stamped.
 
In my back pockets I had bags of food and was consuming a combo of 3 fig rolls or 2 mini pitta breads with butter & peanut butter per hour. I got through about 7 litres of water the entire ride and one 750ml bottle of energy drink. I had extra bags of energy powder to make up drinks but did not feel the need to use them. I also carried chocolate for emergency ‘quick hits’ but did not need this either and on this ride believe I got my nutrition pretty much spot on. I did have a bit of saddle chafing in the last 50km but reckon this could have been down to riding with longs in warm weather.
 
The route now arced eastwards then south-east and into a stiff headwind and it was on this stretch that I hooked up with Carole again along with Andy from Cardiff Byways, which is mainly an Audax club in south Wales.
We took it in turns to ride into the wind on this demanding leg to Daventry at 194km where we all agreed it was definitely time to stop and eat. I opted for a bacon sandwich and 2 cans of 7up which seemed to hit the spot.
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Leaving Daventry, now heading south Andy told us to press on as he was struggling with the pace and somewhere along this next stretch we were joined by Jon Banks from Bath section CTC who was also riding his first 300. For the remainder of the ride we rode as a trio and the closer we got to the finish the more excited the other 2 became as they neared completion of their first time at this distance. It was impossible not to feed off this energy and after one last stop near Woodstock at 250km we then rode quite fast into the fading light through Witney and Brize Norton to the finish.

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307km (190 miles) in 15 hours and I’m asking myself could I ride another 100km at this moment in time, and yes I’m quite confident I could and will be doing so next Saturday in Wales.

Could I carry on and ride another 300km? Truthfully?  No – not yet, but the night riding next week combined with the increased distance and more challenging terrain should do the trick for the Bryan Chapman 600km Audax in 3 weeks time. 600’s are really challenging events, both mentally & physically demanding and no matter how often you have ridden them in the past, each year you need to build up to that distance in incremental steps, gaining confidence at each stage. Well I do anyway!
 
In the car on the way home the moment we left Cirencester the rain started again and became torrential towards Bath. How good was that…..
 
– Andy Curran – 
Upcoming events
 
Salisbury Sportive
Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th May starting from Salisbury
Andy Bolden is looking at riding the 64 mile route on Saturday which includes over 1000 metres of climbing and invites others to join him.
This is part of his build up for a 75 mile sponsored ride in May with a team from his workplace alongside 10 other teams and will involve riding parts of the Tour de France stage 1 in Yorkshire 
 
Brevet Cymru 401km Audax
Saturday 3rd May 06.00 starting from Chepstow
Classic ride from Chepstow to the Irish sea coast and back taking in the mountains of mid-Wales
One of the best events in the calendar in my opinion and highlight of the ride for me is probably the eerie ride through the Brecon Beacons in the dark as fatigue begins to creep in.
Last year Dave Atkinson from Road CC did a short video which captures the ups & downs of this ride http://road.cc/content/blog/82693-video-my-brevet-cymru
Really looking foward to riding this event again. 
 
South Glos 106km Audax
Saturday 10th May 09.30 starting from Alveston, south Glos.
This event is 21.5 miles away so a ride to start and then back from finish would make a 109 mile round trip, although there is plenty of parking available at the event HQ
Postal entry but there is also a GPS route to download. 
 
Somerset 100 mile Sportive
Sunday 18th May starting from Wedmore, Somerset.
4 members already entered so possibility of lift sharing (Check the start-list)
Clubrider leaders Mat & Paula are riding to Chepstow and back as preparation for this event the week before on Sunday 11th May and invite others to join them 
 
Bryan Chapman 617km Audax
Saturday & Sunday 17/18th May 06.00 starting from Chepstow
Classic Welsh traverse from Chepstow to Anglesey and back in under 40 hours
Highlights include riding alongside the Elan valley dams in mid-Wales, the spectacular wooden Barmouth rail bridge across the bay, an all night ride through Snowdonia involving a night time crossing of Pen-y-pass and 2 killer climbs at Dolgellau and Newtown on Sunday which require holding a bit back in reserve from the all night ride. If there is anything left in the tank, a chance to let rip on the fast run down the Wye valley on Sunday afternoon to the finish at Chepstow.
Mixture of excitement and nerves about riding this again after a break of 9 years
 
Further Out
 
BikeBath Sportive weekend
Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th June. Starting from Bath.
VC Walcot won the prize last year for biggest club turnout, same again this year?
Some members are already planning to ride either the 100 mile or 60 mile events heading northwards on the Sunday, while Andy Bolden is looking to ride the 60 mile events on both days.
 
Bath CC 100 km Audax
Sunday 6th July 08.30 starting from Combe Down, Bath
Online entry and also a GPS route to download.
Great reviews from last year’s event. Organiser Rob Mac has a 200km event in the pipeline. 
 
Our friends at Great Weston Ride are running a 56 mile challenging route across the Mendips and Somerset levels on Sunday 20th July. The ride starts from Long Ashton Park & Ride and eventually finishes in Weston-Super-Mare with proceeds going to help in the fight against prostate cancer.http://www.greatwestonride.com/
This makes an ideal family day out with relatives and family able to meet you at the finish, making it a real fun day out for all.
 
Even Further Out
 
Exmouth Exodus all night ride
Saturday 9th August starting from Green Park station in Bath this year and finishes on the south Devon coast.
Organised food and rest stops along the route.
Last year return transport was provided for riders and bikes at a very reasonable rate.
An ideal opportunity to try an all night ride for curious or adventurous types seeking something new and thrilling.
(More to follow)
 
Clubrider Andy Lenthall has been strong armed into entering the Blenheim Palace Sportive on Sunday August 17th starting from Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
Andy is seeking others to join him. See his March 21st post on the club’s Facebook page
 
Wiltshire 100 mile Sportive
Sunday 7th September start/finish at Devizes, Wiltshire. Start times between 07.00 – 08.00 to suit you.
David Acklam informs us this is a great route across the Pewsey vale and Wiltshire downs.
 
Audax Club Bristol 200km Grimpeur
Latest news for this event planned for later in summer. Looks a belter…
 
 
til next time…
 
Andy C