The time had come to get some serious miles in. Which has brought up a new main issue, not standing on the pedals much has meant some new pains with all the extra seated action. Maybe I’ve grown some extra bone in strange places but that once acceptable Brookes C15 is now murder. It’s not saddle sores just a pure beating over distances I used to cover effortlessly.
Out comes the trusty Fizik Gobi saddle for a nice gentle 200 mile loop. I basically headed out to Hunstanton at the seaside and returned back on a random southerly loop taking in the quiet Cambridge guided busway. I made this a test of steady pace to see if a 7hr per 100mile rate could be maintained including stops. After about 3 hrs the sit bones need a rest so its a case of regular coffee and food stops, and the odd beer helps. Stats of 209 miles for 15hrs33 didn’t quite match the plan but the moving average of 15.3mph was acceptable.
The following weekend the distance was upped to 300 miles. This time the plan was to test taking minimum kit, bivy and all, as a full TCR practice run. Starting at 6am and a ride through the night, checking out surviving the cold night with no extra warm riding gear, with a brief bivy. I was carrying just a bivy bag and down pullover, wearing a standard riding top, wind gillet with arm and leg warmers.
Joining up with the route for a 600Km Audax at St Neots I then rode ahead of the other riders who had set off from Essex that morning. All the kit stayed well and truly on, fighting the cool NE wind on the way to the turn at Goole. Two nice stops for breakfast in Spalding and a pub Lunch in the Lincolnshire Wolds giving the sit bones a rest. Once at Goole a relaxed stop at McD where I met a fellow TCR entrant doing another Audax No 64 Ashley Sharp. Heading back South the route doubled back for a while and it was great to see a few lead riders including Steve Abraham making great time.
As night fell it was on with the thin waterproof which did a good job of keeping me warm as long as I kept moving. The view over Lincoln was quite spectacular from the ridge North of it, the route through the centre on the steep cobbled descents at 10.30 pm was erm interesting. As the cold 4 degs.C night took grip I was riding strong but getting a bit bored realizing I had a dull 4 hours of dark riding before sunset. Time to try a quick Bivy test. I bunked down in a bus shelter out of the wind, down fleece on and lying on the concrete floor in the bivy. To my surprise I napped for for about 90 mins no problem, not even from the hip bones.
Riding into the sunrise the pace slowed noticeably after about 240 miles in, how could this be into a headwind still? I never felt for the lack of sleep but it looks like it becomes less efficient to go without a good recharging break. While I slept I’d been passed by the leading Audaxers including ultra-endurance legend Chris “Hoppo” Hopkinson in a group of 4. I saw them sitting roadside in Whittlesey and then they caught me up at the 24 hr Garage in Chatteris at 6 am when I stooped for a much needed coffee. Checking back on the Strava playback I was chuffed to have matched their pace in the cold dawn hours.
From StNeots I headed home, but how could I pass by a pub in Perry by Grafham water which was serving breakfast from 7am. A mighty fine fast delicious service it was too, one to remember for some early rides. Because of the snooze and casual food stops I never got the elusive 300 within 24 hrs ride time which has been a long term goal, 290 miles at that point showed its easily possible though.
So overall 323 miles in 22 hrs rolling time with just under 5 hrs of stops, backside better, still suffering but no sores and as long as the rides broken every 3 hrs we can live with it so far. The 14.6 mph moving avg needs improving because there was barely any climbing on this ride. This was also my first ever DIY Audax so have I started the slippery slope of points grabbing.
Now to plan the next level. A hilly 600Km Audax in Wales, face the demon hills.