The Malmesbury Mash 200km Audax

The Malmesbury Mash was my second Calendar** Audax of the year. It is a 125mile/200km Audax starting at Cardiff Gate and taking the main roads through Newport and out to Chepstow, before riding over Hawkesbury Moor to Malmesbury, and then returning to Cardiff via Slimbridge. The route and elevation ride are shown below:

mmash_route

I was up at 05:15 to get ready and have some breakfast before driving to Cardiff Gate for a 07:00 start. I arrived at about 06:30 and spent the next 20minutes getting dressed and making sure my bike was ready for the days ride.

At 07:00 we were off, there was about 50-60 of us doing the ride, most of whom I would not see for the rest of the day. The ride out to Chepstow and over the Severn Bridge was relatively quick and uneventful, with no real hills to speak of. Once over the bridge we continued eastwards towards Malmesbury. It was still quite flat when we hit Hawkesbury Moor with the ride up to Somerset Mount at 43 miles/69km being the first big test of the day with gradients of between 8 and 10% for the final kilometer of the climb. By this time the mist had come down so there was no view to be appreciated when we got to the top. Once at the top of the climb it was downhill all the way into Malmesbury. By the time I reached Malmesbury at 55miles/89km I was on an average of 16mph. Amanda’s Cafe provided some very fine bacon, eggs, toast and tea before setting off north east to Slimbridge. On leaving Malmesbury it was uphill for the next 12miles/18km although at a gentle but relentless gradient of between 1 and 3%. On reaching the peak of that climb there was an immediate and exhilirating 2.5mile/4km twisty downhill stretch reaching speeds of up to 40mph and gradients of 15%, before a steady final few miles out to Slimbridge and a pub stop for a cider and some crisps. I was still doing well by this point averaging 15mph with 77miles/125km completed. Only 50 fairly flattish miles back to my car now. Thats when my legs decided to start complaining and the next 25miles/40km back to Chepstow were painful and not pleasant. Maybe it was the cider, maybe a lack of food, I don’t know! In Chepstow there was a quick stop to take on some “fuel” with a Pasty and a bottle of Coke, and I was on my way again feeling much better and Imade good progress back to Newport and then on to cardiff. I completed the 125mile/200km ride at an average of 14.5mph, arriving back at 16:45.

mmash_stats

All in all a good day out on the bike which I was very pleased with. I did come away from the ride with some lessons learnt 1) knowing that if I am to go further I need to get more miles in between Audaxes, 2) probably best not to drink cider while on a ride and 3) that I need to lose some weight !!!

 

Cycling Goals 2017

There is only one cycle ride that matters this year, it starts on Sunday 30th July in London and over the period of 116hours and 40minutes goes 700km north to Edingburgh and then 700km back to the start in London, everything else is just a warm up / training for this one event.    lel2017_route

London-Edinburgh-London (LEL2017) , the 8th edition of this event, is run under the Audax UK flag and is held once every four years and is a noncompetitive endurance cycling event. LEL2017 is the largest yet with 1500 entrants from 55 different countries. There is a time limit of 116 hours and 40 minutes which includes all food and sleep stops. The food and sleeping facilities are arranged at a number of mandatory “Controls” along the route, an advisory route which navigates through the “Controls” is provided and generally followed by the vast majority of entrants. The controls are at St Ives, Spalding, Louth, Pocklington, Thirsk, Barnard Castle, Brampton, Moffat, Edinburgh, Innerleithen, Eskdalemuir, Brampton, Barnard Castle, Thirsk, Pocklington, Louth, Spalding, St Ives and Great Easton.

LEL has been described as a contender for hardest cycling event in the United kingdom, however it is most certainly a tough sleep deprived ride known to make (one or two) grown men cry, hallucinate (are thise sheep or white lines on the road?) and wonder why on earth did I think this was a good idea. The elevation is, apparently, not too bad with only one major hill, though you do climb it going north and then on the return leg as well. The north bound elevation profile is shown below, Southbound retraces much the same route.

lel2017_elevation

All I need to do now is a bit of training, set my bike up, get to the start line fit & well and I am good to go. BUT i’ll cover those another day 🙂

Don’t Talk about Religion or Politics!

There is an old saying that you may have heard in one form or another which basically says “don’t talk about Religion or Politics”.  You may see this as a notice at pubs and bars or have been discouraged from discussing these topics at at parties and get togethers.  Politics and religion, as we can easily demonstrate from history, are very divisive subjects and have been the start of many a national conflict and war, not to mention countless broken families and friendships.

Why?  When people discuss either Religion or Politics the views and attitudes of those involved becomes polarised, I accept that this is a generalisation but I do not believe that this is a gross over-generalisation.  We have seen this here in the UK both pre and post the Brexit vote. Families have been divided and friendships have been broken due to the polarisation that occurs when we start to talk openly about our views.  This has been demonstrated right at the top of our political tree with the break in relations between the former Prime Minister David Cameron and his long term friend Michael Gove.  It has been widely reported that they have not spoken since the Brexit vote due to them campaigning on different sides of the Brexit argument.

Similarly the US Presidential election has been very polarising, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Christian Right, Christian Left; they all have their standpoints  and judging by what I currently see on Social Media there is very little common ground between the differing sides and very little chance of bridges being built. There is intransigence and unwillingness to see the others point of view and engage in constructive discussion.

The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress (Joseph Joubert  1754-1824) That is the problem with us though, when we engage in discussion invariably we want to win, we want our viewpoint to be recognised as the superior one, or the right one, or the one with the most credibility. We want “Victory”, even when it is family or friends. Is it any wonder that there is so much division in society today, so much misunderstanding of the other. Discussion leads to argument leads to fighting leads to war. Why can’t we have discusion leads to understanding leads to respect leads to co-operation.

Going back to where we started, Religion and Politics, whatever your flavour or persuasion these are things that can change the world, these are things that matter, things that we need to talk about. We should not be afraid to talk about them but if we do then we should do so with the aim of progress not victory.


Header picture from https://pixabay.com/en/users/mattysimpson-466065/

The World

This came up on my Facebook timeline and on reading it I realized how true it is. Consumerism and materialism are a disease that “encourages” us to be constantly dissatisfied with what we have and to constantly want better, bigger and newer, instead of being satisfied and happy with what we have.