Posted by: audaxing | September 21, 2015

600km fail

It was my last chance to do a 600km this audax season but it didn’t work out
I needed a 600km ride to complete this years Super Randonnuer series before the end of September

I’d planned the ride to do the total of 600km in two days of 300km each
The first day was a more a difficult route and I would be sleeping in my own bed at home. This kind of backdoor 600 is easy to organise and doesn’t involve any travel or stays in hotels. Starting at 7:15am on Saturday would give me until 11:15pm on Sunday to finish. Day one was planned to get me back home before midnight. Then I’d get 5 hours sleep in a comfortable bed and day two was a quicker/easier 300km

But after the first day of 300km I failed to get out on the road again at 6am on day two

The route

The planned route for day one was Ian Hennessay’s Blackdown and Levels I made more use of the B3227 than the route sheet recommends but it’s pretty similar
route day one

What happened on the day

The weather early in the morning was cold and foggy. I put on lots of clothes and made good time to Lyme. The lanes were not too wet and the bigger roads at that time on a Saturday morning were not busy. I had a coffee in Lyme and continued north. The temperatures quickly climbed and by 10am it was around 20 degrees C. I had to remove all the clothes I’d had on first thing. I’d guessed this would happen and had put bigger bag than normal on the back of the bike

late morning in Dorset

As I got nearer to Clevedon, the traffic on the roads was much thicker than I like. But soon I was through the hotspot of the coast near the Bristol channel and out on the Somerset levels

On the Somerset Levels

The route went through Bridgwater and then some obscure villages before hitting the B3227, which is a good road all the way to South Molton. As the sun sank I felt myself slowing up a bit, with still 100km to do before bedtime. The twilight time was subtly beautiful with mist and cloud softening further the soft light.

I made a tactical error near Shillingford by following the route instructions for the perm instead of staying on the B3227. It was maybe 4km shorter but with more climbs and very much worse roads. By now it was quite dark. Doing this had an adverse affect on my psychology, although in hindsight it wouldn’t have taken much longer than sticking to the good road. I have no idea why I took this bad road, it was a moment of madness. Perhaps I was getting so tired I had started making poor judgements

I got home again from South Molton at 00:35, about an hour behind what I hoped but still with plenty of time to sleep

So what went wrong?

So what went wrong and why didn’t I start again the following morning on the easier day 2 to Marlborough and back? The three factors were

  • comfort
  • the opportunity to give up
  • missing some details of preparation.


I’d not ridden much for months, just a few rides of 40 miles or so lately.

On the ride my speed wasn’t good but I only finished about a hour later than I’d hoped for

But there is more than the heart, legs and lungs. On long rides comfort is surprisingly important

One weak point that quickly goes out of condition is the hardened arse that can withstand hours and hours of battering

After just the first planned day I was hurting in this delicate area

If I’d have done more long rides in the months before I might have toughened up

Sun Tzu

If Sun Tzu did audax he would critique my tactics. Just as he said

Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape…Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.

If I had had no option but to carry on, maybe I would have finished. As it was it was too easy to stay in my nice, warm bed.

Removing the option to stay in bed would have forced me out onto the road


If I’d have used Sudocrem or something similar on my sore backside it probably would have reduced the problem. But I omitted to do this. When the weather is going to be hot(it was) then this always helps. In terms of fitness it would have been better to do a 300km the weekend before. But I had to make do with a couple of 90km rides instead

Better preparation would have helped


There’s always next year…It’s just a bike ride

Posted by: audaxing | September 4, 2015



Posted by: audaxing | June 11, 2015

Avalon Photo round up

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Posted by: audaxing | June 3, 2015

Fettling chore

This set of mudguards took two hours to fit. They look kinda ok, will probably last at least a year and will keep the dirt off.

Posted by: audaxing | May 25, 2015

BCM twitter round up

No Bryan Chapman Memorial for me this year so I was following it on twitter

Posted by: audaxing | May 3, 2015

New Light

I’ve recently got a B&M Luxos U generator powered light. It was easy to fit as a replacement to my existing B&M Cyo. First impressions are that it is bright but seems to behave differently to the Cyo. The beam spread seems to alter with speed.

The beam has a long “throw” than the Cyo and is also wider

The boost button doesn’t seem to do much. I needed squeeze the rear light connector to make it fit tighter on the spade, it kept falling off. This was good in a way as it showed that the green light to indicate the rear light working was ok

I tried out the light on the recent Brevet Cymru 400km event. This was extremely wet with a lot of rain. The light had no problems with this. In real world use in heavy rain in pitch darkness in Wales the beam pattern worked well

Prior to the event I did try out the USB charging and it works on my iphone 4S as specified: once the red light is on the device will slowly charge as long as you are moving

Posted by: audaxing | April 13, 2015

Sunny Elenydd!

I had trouble getting to hall thanks to railway closures, so no photos from me: the phone battery was used up checking timetables


We were due good but windy weather for the day by the weather men. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to roll off at 6am in moderately heavy rain. After the rain stopped the end of the first easy section was quite relaxing

I got to Shobdon and as usual there was a food queue so I decided not to stop. Filled my bottles, removed a layer or two and continued

Coffee+pie at Builth

By Builth Wells it was coffee time so I stopped at the Drovers tearooms. As I left the tearooms I saw another rider coming up the road. I knew the next bit would be into a headwind so I suggested we team up.

So I rode up the A483 to Beulah with Gordon. It would have been a bit nasty on my own I was glad someone to share a wheel with. The sun came out, it was loverly

Up the staircase

Off the main road and into the lanes. There was a new control at a village hall before the Devil’s Staircase ascent. Which I managed without putting a foot down, always a good sign I feel.
The mountain road was beautiful in the sunshine. Unusually pleasant for this time of year!

After the various climbs of the Tregaron mountain road there is an amazing descent towards Tregaron, then one small climb then it’s Tregaron and my favourite ever control, the bowls club

Loose bolt

After the bowls club the direction of the ride turns around so we were all hopeful to be getting a tail wind down the Elan Valley. But first there were some nasty little ascents to do. On one of them at a snails pace I could hear an odd noise coming out of the bike. Just a metalic “clink” but I couldn’t imagine what it was. I had to stop and have a look. I quickly worked out that the bolt on the Bagman support frame was very loose. Good job I happened to notice, I don’t carry a spare bolt in that size

High speed mountain road

The tailwind was all that could be hoped for. I did the whole mountain road in 90 minutes and arrived in Rhyader feeling a lot fresher than usual at this point.

Night section and finish

More coffee, add some more clothes then off again on the A44 also somewhat tailwind assisted. Gordon came past with a train so I hopped on the back. After turning off the flattish A44 onto the undulating A483 going north my climbing legs seemed to evapourate. I stuck with Gordon and co for a while but in the end they disappeared up a hill and I didn’t see them again until the end. Stuart and his Eliptigo also dropped me on a hill and again I didn’t see him again

Finally there were some horrible urban roundabouts then finished! I had 2 plates of stew, someone gave me a glass of wine and I got to sleep in the hall about midnight

That’s the 300km PBP qualifier done!

Posted by: audaxing | April 5, 2015

Valley of the Rocks revisited

13 hours of Hills

In summary: some fantastic views, some tough ascents, some sun, good company and an amazing big moon in the last few miles in the dark

Hopefully this bit of “practice” will put my legs in the mood for the Elenydd next weekend!

Time to start walking - the hill to Lynton

Time to start walking – the hill to Lynton

It was a long walk

It was a long walk

Sun comes out near Lee Abbey

Sun comes out near Lee Abbey

Picture of riders taking Pictures

Picture of riders taking Pictures

The Glamour of Audax

The Glamour of Audax

Big Moon

Big Moon

Posted by: audaxing | March 13, 2015

Best bike out of hibernation

The best bike was cleaned at the end of last year and hung up in the garage. I knew it had a few problems …


Over the winter mildew had grown on the leather saddle. This was easy to clean off. More wax went on the saddle too

A coating of mildew

A coating of mildew


I noticed at the end of last year that the freehub bearings were starting to be a bit rough. So I put the wheel into the bike shop (Richard’s Bikes in Exeter) for a service. They sorted it out nicely


After I cleaned the chain last year I checked it with a gauge. This revealed that cleaning it had been a waste of time! The chain needed changing. I put a new KMC chain on it

Bottom Bracket

So with a new chain, clean saddle and new freehub bearings I took the bike out for a test ride. A problem immediately showed up. When I put any power at all into the frame – even something as minor as accellorating on the flat caused a loud creaking noise from the frame. It had done this last year a little bit but only when really straining such as on a steep climb. As the problem happened all the time when power was supplied and was in the frame I took the bottom bracket apart, cleaned it throughly, packed with grease and reassembled.

bottom bracket action

bottom bracket action

This seemed to work and the creaking stopped

Hopefully it is all fixed now and ready to do it’s thing!

Posted by: audaxing | March 11, 2015

Sunshine, Hail and a Cracked Frame

I’ve entered another 200km Paris-Brest-Paris qualifier, the “Mad March 200” from Exeter. So last weekend I started out. Would I get further than last time, when I packed after a few hours?

At the start

In the car park 7:30am

In the car park 7:30am

I actually drove in a car, the 15 miles to the start. I don’t normally do this for events in Exeter but I wasn’t feeling like a power house so I thought I’d miss out on the bonus miles.

Sunny Morning




It was a great morning. But lunchtime we were at the turnaround point in Blue Anchor

Cracked Frame

Around this time I noticed that the welds on my frame had developed some new cracks and were coming undo. I decided to carry on but to ride carefully. So no 40mph descents.


Just before the Dead Woman’s ditch climb the heavens dumped a load of ice on us
I put on a balaclava and continued. Up the hill. On my broken bike

The route passed our house so I switched bikes to my generally offroad bike for the last 15 miles

Several groups overtook me due to my plodding pace on 2″ tyres

Finished in 11 1/2 hours and I was glad that the car was there to take me home, even if this meant missing out on a pint at the pubbe

But woo hoo! That’s the first Paris-Brest-Paris qualifier done!

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