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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Responses

  1. Well done for keeping going. It wouldn’t be audacious if it was easy !

  2. Well done Jamie – I’m not sure I would have been able to get up for the second day!

    I did a 200km on the Saturday and for the first time in a long time it took more than 12 hours. That’s the thing with this Audax we do – just when you think you got it cracked it jumps up and bites you on the bum.

    PS if you’re thinking of running Marlborough with Lights as a calendar event next year Gill and I can do the Othery control again if we’re free.
    Cheers Len

    • hi, Len I decided to not run the Marlborough next year despite the PBP-ness but thanks for the offer!


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