2011 miles ticker

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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

October - Month of the Audax

Well, having been a lazy git for months, September's realisation that "it can't go on like this" led to a flurry of audax entering.

Once my own Audaxes were organised and all riders accounted for, I turned my attention to getting the fat boy in shape. Weightwatchers was joined, and audaxes entered.

First up, The Welland Wonder 100 with my wife in close attendance. On arrival, we were greeted by 10 minutes torrential rain, during which we cowered in the car and pondered the wisdom of our attendance. Within 15 minutes of starting, all such thoughts were banished as we freewheeled through the grounds of Stanford Hall. 5 minutes later, and my chain was once more wrapped around my bottom bracket refusing to co-operate. A rotor chain saver has subsequently been fitted, both Mr Schleck and myself having learned from experience. The route is quite lumpy to begin with, but once we ended up North of the start at Husbands Bosworth the countryside is splendid. As a fellow rider remarked, "if they hadn't found coal and iron ore here, it would be better known than the Cotswolds", maybe not, but I can see what they meant. Finishing at shortly after 3:30 our first 'proper' ride for ages finished in a fairly standard 6:30.

2nd October saw Rourkies Cat & Fiddle Challenge, and the first visit by Mrs H to the Cat & Fiddle Climb. Whilst the A roads were a bit busy, neither of us struggled with the climbs and by now I was beginning to notice that breathing on a climb was less of a problem. Nevertheless, the customary 50mph was achieved on the descent from the Roaches to Blackshaw Moor (love that descent). Not only did we have a good 4:40 on the bike, but I also caught up with Mark, seemingly for the first time since Etape 2008. Too long.

Quick, we're getting fit, enter another one. 8th October for Discovering Shropshire. This one had everything, long drawn out climbs, mental descents, a crossing of the Iron Bridge itself, and chickens trying to scrounge the obligatory bacon sandwich. This 120km ride is a gem! We were blessed with good weather, and the views were superb. The fact that much of the last 20 miles is downhill doesn't hurt either.

Next weekend, and the keenness continued unabated with entry to the Centurion Challenge. Starting near Cirencester, this involved a plummet from the Car Park to the start that promised late afternoon pain (though in the end we hardly noticed). The first few miles are on little travelled roads, little travelled by anyone including Gloucestershire County Council as the surface was not brilliant. Nevertheless, the drop off of Painswick Beacon and subsequent climb back up (after cake) promises good training for next year's exploits (more later). Rolling out onto the Severn Plain, this ride then has to regain lost height, which it does at a place called North Nibley. My wife will never forget this place, as the 200m of 17% climb left her gasping for almost asthmatic breath before a feed station with a view at the top of the hill. Rolling gradually upward, there was a brief period of 'rambling' on a 20% section before another swift run into the finish. Another cracking ride for next year's calendar.

Finally, I was dispatched on my own to North Wales for the Clwyd Gate Audax, a hilly affair with 2.25 'scenery points' (climbing points for the uninitiated). This saw me going well for most of the day, on a cracking route with many alpine style climbs, and a visit to the seaside. Further evidence of reducing weight was provided with my fastest time ever up the Horseshoe Pass, faster event than 2008 when I was in full-on Etape training mode. Bodes well.

Throughout this year, I have been somewhat 'flat' and uninterested. By the end of these 4 weeks, I was again coming to the realisation that, if I ever have to give up my possessions one-by-one, they will have to pry my bicycle from my cold dead hands. I'm loving this again!

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