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Archives for February 2014

Rutland and Beyond

Rory O'Brien track bike

Rory O’Brien track bike

I entered this last year but was a DNS due to illness. I wasn’t going to enter again this year as I intended only to ride 100km events fixed and this was too hilly to ride fixed. The reason for this was that you only get audax points for events equal or longer than 200km, but you geta  FWC (fixed wheel challenge) point for 100km.

I did end up riding it though, as my friend entered and it was his first audax so I agreed to ride it with him. As it was only 100km, I had to ride fixed to gain any points. It would be hilly, but not too bad as long as I didn’t push it too hard.  Carlos then suggested that we ride out to the start in Leicester. As this was just over 50km, by riding there and back, the extra 100km meant that we could enter what is called an Extended Calendar Event or ECE.  Therefore I now had my month’s 200km ride sorted.

We met opposite the George in Oundle at 5:15am and after some faffing to get my gps sorted out, we set off into a head wind and light rain. We had chosen a 35 mile ride out via Corby and the Langtons. As heavy rain was forecast later on in the morning, I was carrying a complete change of cycling clothes in my saddlebag which I was planning to change into at the start after the rain was forecast to have stopped. In the end the rain held off and I could leave my change of clothes, along with my lights. unused at the start location.

Due to the headwind we didn’t arrive at the start as early as we had hoped and although we could have started on time with the other 100+ riders, we decided to take our time and have a cup of tea and a biscuit or three before setting off again.

The first leg out to Oakham and the first control at the cafe in Whitwell on the north shore of Rutland Water was fast and the hills were OK going up with a nice strong wind on our backs although I struggled spinning my 66″ gear on the downs. Carlos however was recovering from a cold and I suspect that we went out a bit too fast considering. After a longer than anticipated stop at Whitwell for a sausage sandwich, a mug of tea and a rest, we were back on the road, not looking forward to the swing around into the south-westerly wind. A brief respite at Edith Weston as we turned SE lasted 3 miles before we once again turned SW and had a 12 mile slog to the second cafe control at East Carlton.

By now Carlos was struggling and sent me on my way alone as I would find it quite tight time-wise to complete the ECE within the 13.5 hour time limit otherwise. I stopped only long enough to get my card stamped and set off again leaving Carlos to enjoy a relaxed coffee and cake. By now we had been in the saddle for 8 hours and the next two hours were very tough into a strengthening wind. I let out a hollow laugh as I set off a village’s speed sign that thanked me for doing 10mph…

Now back at the Leicester event HQ, I had a mug of tea and a quantity of cake before reclaiming my saddlebag, reattaching my light and setting off again. I had a about 3.5 hours left to complete the ride, so even with aching legs but a favourable wind, I felt confident of making the time limit. The first 5 miles of my ride back to Oundle re-traced the last part of the route so I expected to see Carlos on his way in, I didn’t! In fact he had packed at East Carlton and got a lift home, it was a good effort though, 80 hilly miles in a strong wind when you have just recovered from a cold is good going. In similar circumstances last year I hadn’t even started.

The final leg was actually not too much trouble, achy legs and an increasing noisy BB apart, and I rolled into Oundle at 18:21, with 23 minutes to spare after 136 miles. As a bonus, after sending in my GPS track for validation it appears that the overall ride, with 3,280m of climbing was sufficiently hilly for Audax Altitude Award (AAA) points, and as a double bonus, for hilly events ridden on fixed, you get bonus FWC points equal to the number of AAA points awarded 🙂 All in all, a good days work.