Posted by: audaxing | October 10, 2018

October 600

It was dark, so I didn’t realise that it was raining until I left the house

I’d decided to attempt a 600km ride based on two loops from my home.  Also, as I am busy every other weekend this month it had to be on the weekend of the 6th/7th

It was a simple plan.  Ride 300km based on Ian H’s Blackdown and Levels 300 , sleep in my own bed then the next day ride my old event Marlborough with lights

I had tried to do this once before, 3 years ago.  On that occasion, I had not been riding much previously and day one was too much for my backside.  So I stayed in bed.  That’s the trouble with sleeping at home, it’s very easy to stay in the warm bed.

The first 50km didn’t go terribly well.  Firstly, I was half awake and it was dark.  So I did not notice that I’d skipped an early control point.  I had to back track – not far – but that added on an unnecessary 5km.  Did I mention it was raining?  My boots filled up with water and I had that squelching feeling in my socks

When I sat in the café near Lyme Regis – the excellent Rousdon Village Bakery – I watched the rain bouncing off the ground and decided to have another coffee.  I changed my socks and eventually had to continue.  The rain did ease off from heavy to light

The next bit of the route through Dorset, I’ve ridden many times.  It’s part of a 100km loop from my house.  Eventually, I get to the point where I could turn back to my house (left, via Ilminster) or carry on for the rest of this (right).  I take the red pill.

I tried to take a photo at this point but I couldn’t get the touch screen phone to unlock with wet fingers and rain dripping off my hat

I was now heading due north into a brisk headwind on the Somerset levels.  There is a belief – I’ve heard it expressed down the pub – that the levels, as they are flattish represent an easy place to cycle.  The problem with it is that the headwind is relentless

Usually, on this route, I would hope to gain time, get ahead of schedule, raise my average speed when crossing the levels.  Not today!

There is a great truck stop cafe at the Albion pub near Shapwick and I took the opportunity to eat as much as possible.  Checked my texts.   My mate Sarah who was also riding a 200 today had packed after 60km

Still into an increasing headwind but now at least the rain had stopped.  Got to Clevedon, which was the most northerly point and then had a brief bit of tailwind as I headed south again!

Minor mechanical problem with the bike here.  The front changer cable had stretched.  It probably needs replacing soon but I adjust things and I have a big ring again for riding with the tailwind

By now it becomes apparent that my thoughts of finishing just after 10pm are optimistic.

Stop for a quick snack in Bridgwater then press on.   It’s late in the day now but at long last, the sun makes an appearance!

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The next bit of the route is hilly.  There is a very long climb just outside of Bridgwater then more hills, then I’m on the B3227.  Ian H’s official route hops off the B3227 occasionally but my version does not.  The B3227 goes all the way to South Molton, which is the final control for the day.  Ian H’s route then goes directly south to Tiverton.  Whereas I go back along the B3227

Get to South Molton much too late.  I fill up my water bottle from a tap at a closed garage.   The skies have cleared and there is an astonishing number of stars up there.  It’s cold but I’ve managed to keep a dry set of gloves in reserve.  I get back home at just after 1am

Day 2 – Marlborough

The alarm goes off at 6am.  I eat breakfast and find clean cycling kit.  I am using a different bike today so I have to get all the tools etc into my other saddlebag.

Yesterday was hillier so I was using a bike with disc brakes.  Today is flatter so I have a bike with tribars

It’s cold enough for frost but I manage to get on the road by 7:30.  Today, it might be cold but I see a proper sunrise at Hemyock

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I get to Langport at 9:30am.  I feel much better after a second breakfast at Kitchen at the Wharf  Today there are plenty of other cyclists about.   Although the early sun doesn’t last and it remains cold it is a much nicer day.

The traffic in Frome is insane.   It’s like people want to spend Sunday in a traffic jam in a small town.

From checking my texts today,  I discover that Richard S. is riding the same route as me but he is an hour ahead.  I was going to ride with him but was disorganised!  I spot him coming the other way, back from Marlborough.  We say hi and then press on in opposite directions

I get to Marlborough too late to have a coffee in Waitrose.  I have never got there this late before.  I am paying for yesterdays efforts.  I have to be back by 2am to beat the time limit

The route back is easy until the Mendips.  By now I am feeling sleepy even though it is not that late.  I put an effort in to stay warm and awake on the big hills.  Shepton Mallet is the next town.  It once had a nice Texaco garage that opened late.  Now it only has a shopping centre that is always shut when I’m there.

The dozies and cold are getting worse but I pass “The Apple Tree Inn” on the road to Glastonbury and stop for a coffee.  This costs me some time but I gain warmth and caffeine.  The next hour goes well.  Then I am feeling dubious again.  Another coffee at a 24h garage near Wellington, one last hill and I’m home.  It’s 1am again but I made it, in time

What did I learn?  An October 600 can be difficult.  Tough might be a better word

What went well?  Using two bikes was a good idea.  Starting day two with a clean chain is nice

What would I do differently?  Just don’t start if the weather is that bad.  Just don’t

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Posted by: audaxing | July 1, 2018

Old and new lightweight camping gear

Last year when I rode 600km and slept in a hedge, I was carrying 1500g of camping gear. It was bulky and I had to use an extra large bag to carry it all

This year I am riding the same event again – the Exe-Buzzard from Exeter – but I’ve tried to get some gear that’s lighter and smaller

Older

Last time I used an army surplus gortex bivvy bag, weight 923g and an Alpkit Airo 180 mat, weight 582g

Army surplus gortex bivvy and Alpkit Airo

Army surplus gortex bivvy and Alpkit Airo

I’ve camped out a few times with these. The mat is comfortable and the Bivvy seems to breathe well

Newer

This time I will be using a Sol Escape Lite bivvy (165g) and an Alpkit Numo (407g)

Sol Escape Bivvy and Alpkit Numo mat

Sol Escape Bivvy and Alpkit Numo mat

Apart from unpacking and repacking them in the living room, the new stuff is completely unused and untested.

As well as having a much lower total weight, as you can see from the photos the newer kit is much less bulky.   I should be able to use a normal sized bag for the event next weekend!

Posted by: audaxing | October 15, 2017

Gravel tyres try out

The new tyres are 38mm Vittoria Adventure Trail II TNT

How it went

  • The tyres were moderately difficult to fit. I had to use a bead Jack and an air bottle
  • They weighed more than advertised, over 600g
  • Only just work with the mudguards, a little bit of rubbing
  • Bike rides more sluggish – previous tyres were half the weight. But the extra air volume is good

Next:. Find some gravel

Posted by: audaxing | July 26, 2017

Pre LEL bike fettling

Stuff done included new bottom bracket bearings, new chain, new tyres, new cassette, new front brake blocks, disassemble and clean front brake as the return spring was binding, refit mudguards, swap better side entry bottle cages from other bike

Posted by: audaxing | June 16, 2017

LEL set up

Maybe the LEL setup. If I don’t change my mind.

gear for LEL

gear for LEL

  1. Crud Roadrace mk2 mudguards. Might loose them and fit 28mm tyres. These aren’t made anymore but I have some still in a box and numerous spare parts in the garage
  2. Alpkit Drybag. Attached with homemade velco and correx contraption. Might use a bigger bag. Or a Carradice https://audaxing.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/lightweight-saddlebag-substitute/
  3. Brooks B17. Modified.
  4. B&M Seculite and a Smart AAA backup light
  5. New pedals
  6. Restrap frame bag
  7. Side entry bottle cages. 1 litre bottles fit snuggly under the frame bag
  8. Alpkit Large toptube bag. It’s a bit too wide and rubs my legs when I’m out of the saddle
  9. Tri bars
  10. Garmin eTrex 20
Posted by: audaxing | June 4, 2017

New Pedals

I’ve not bought any new pedals for at least two years. Swapping the worn out bits and spares has reached the end of the road. So time for new ones. The Shimano XT M8000 XC Race Pedals look like they are slightly better than the old M540 so I thought I’d give them a whirl. Rode them 100km back from work on Friday night, they were fine

Posted by: audaxing | April 23, 2017

Tri bar setup

I’m looking at using tri bars for London Edinburgh London

I have previously used tri bars on a Ti bike I used to have. When I looked at this old bike and also the bikes used on the TCR and other long distance races I saw that bars that hook up at the end are preferred.

So on the new bar setup I’ve used “3T Comfort Bend Bar Extensions – Pro”. I put neoprene tape on the ends where my hands will go before applying bar tape – that’s why they look “bulging”

I don’t use the arm rests or the cups on tribars. I use pipe lagging on the handlebars. The arm supports use up too much space

Posted by: audaxing | March 31, 2017

Mike Hall – Legend

I just heard the very shocking news that Mike Hall has died while doing a long distance race in Australia

I followed Mike on Twitter for years and met him and talked on the Brevet Cymru one time.  He was the guest speaker at the last Audax UK reunion

He wasn’t a close friend or anything but he was approachable, remarkable and, for such an extraordinary man, very ordinary

He held the record for the “Tour Divide”, which is possibly the world’s most difficult bike race.  At one point he held the round the world by bike speed record.  He won lots of other races too

Probably his greatest achievement wasn’t winning a race though.  It was setting up the “Transcontinental” race across Europe.  This race starts in Northern Europe (London or Belgium) and then goes to Turkey.  As someone that had done a lot of that type of riding he was the perfect person to understand how to do this kind of race.  The Transcontinental has become a classic in the world of European cycling

We will miss you Mike

Posted by: audaxing | March 26, 2017

Bike Fettling

I replaced the left hand shifter cable on the Genesis as it was proving difficult to adjust the front changer.  I did the outer and inners so I had to strip the bar tape off.  While I was doing this I decided to put some neoprene padding tape underneath the handlebar tape.

The neoprene tape is made for motorbikes and is cheaply available on ebay.  It works great!

Posted by: audaxing | March 22, 2017

220km at the weekend

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