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 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
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
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
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
- 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
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