Cheltenham Flyer 200km Audax

The Cheltenham Flyer, a 200km Audax starting in Andoverford and Screenshot_2017-03-17-18-22-54proceeding clockwise along the route of the River Colne through Faringdon to Burbage, then crossing the Pewsey Downs to the picturesque village of Lacock before returning to Andoversford via the Market town of Tetbury. This was my choice for March as I am trying to do some Audaxes that I have not done before.
The route is shown to the right and can also be found on here on RidewithGPS .  The ride was due to start at 08:00, I was up at 05:00 and out of the house by
05:30 for a 90minute drive to Andoversford near Cheltenham. Arriving at just after 07:00 I had plenty of time to get myself ready, have a cup of tea, sign in and pick up my Brevet Card. At 08:00, on the dot, we were off about 65 of us in total, though we would soon be well spread out.

The ride elevation was showning a mixture of rolling and lumpy with 2 or 3 climbs involved. The elevation measured at just below 2000m on the RWG Map

Elevation_CF

Start to Fernham (Control 1) – 48kms, 1hr 53mins, Avg Spd 25.4kph, Ascent 501m. A lumpy start which settled down to an uneventful but good paced first leg of the ride. Cakes and tea awaited us at Fenham Village Hall.

Fernham to Burbage (Control 2) – 40kms, 1hr 56mins, Avg Spd 21kph, Ascent 571m. A tough second section with 3 good climbs in excess of 10% en route. As the route slowly turned towards the west we started to feel the effects of the forecasted wind which would hit us hard in stage 3.

Burbage to Lacock (Control 3) – 43.5kms, 2 hrs 07mins, Avg Spd 20.6kph, Ascent 407. Right from the off the third leg proved difficult going with a headwind averaging around 16mph and across Pewsey Downs, which being generally flat and wide open afforded absolutely no protection from the wind. My only consolation was that I eventually saw one of the “White Horses” which had been carved into the chalk hillsides. The final run-in to Lacock was a a fast descent from Brampton into the old picturesque village for more cake and tea.

Lacock to Finish – 69kms, 3hrs 8mins, Avg Spd 22.1 kph, Ascent 777m. The longest leg on the ride proved to be quite uneventful apart from one long but not too steep climb towards the end followed by a sharp steep descent (12% at least) with a 90-degree left hand turn at the bottom and then a 4 km rolling ride to the finish where tea, cake and sandwiches awaited us.

I finished at 18:25 and just before it got really dark. I was 9hrs 8mins on the bike and 10hrs 25mins end to end. Fairly pleased with that given the wind conditions.

Advertisements

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.