It was an organised 100km ride, and I was extending it by riding 70km to the start and 70km home again. 240km in total.
I prepared my bike the day before, got an early night and was up at 4am. The organised ride started at 9am, and I wanted at least 1/2 an hour to have some breakfast.
I hoped that I would make it in time.
I set off at 4:40am, in the early morning light, cycling on fairly quiet roads (some areas still had quite a few cars around) cursing the idiots driving without lights on. Ok, so it's quite light, but it's still 5:30 in the morning, it's not bright, turn your lights on idiots.
There were a few hills at the start of the ride, but I took it easy up them, not wanting to get tired out too soon. My uphill speed is slow, once the hills get steeper.
Then I was on the flat ground North of Sheffield. This is very flat. Straight roads, and the wind can be horrible if you're unlucky. There's little to break it up out here. Fortunately the wind was fairly sedate, so I just slumped on the aero-bars and kept pedalling.
2 hours and 50 minutes later I was there. 70km done. ~25km/hr average speed.
Looks like my training has been paying off. On the flat at least. That's the quickest I've ever done that distance in, and I wasn't even trying very hard. Just cruising along at a speed I could keep up all day, because that's what I need to do.
So I ordered my low carb breakfast (eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms) and tucked into the first food of the day. Then I realised, 70km on an empty stomach. That's not bad going. I didn't feel tired, or that hungry.
Eventually other cyclists started arriving. I got my brevet card and loaded the route on my gps. About roughly 20 - 30 people turned up for this one, so a very small ride really. It was a nice day for it though. Overcast, but not really cold.
Then it was time to go. "It's nine o'clock, so you can leave if you're ready" said the organiser. Audax is a very laid back type of affair :D
I was in the first small bunch of people away, but they seemed to be fannying about a bit, so I got on the front and settled into my cruising speed, expecting a few people to sit on my back wheel. When I turned around for a look nobody was. On my own again. A big difference this time though, being on my own at the front.
Of course it didn't last long. I went straight on over the first roundabout, a bit confused by the track on my gps which went right as well. I was trying to remember if the course came back the same way, when I realised that my track was just wrong. I'd downloaded it from somebody who'd done the ride the year before, and although I'd checked it, I'd missed that he'd obviously taken the wrong way at the first turn off.
By the time I turned around and got back on the route again, I was at the back.
Oh well. I had fun chasing some people down and catching them up. Passed quite a few, and then got to the only really dodgy bit of the course. A bridleway, rough, gravel, pot holed surface. That was on interesting ride on 23mm tyres, I can tell you.
Still, it was only a mile or so long. I caught up to some more people down there, and we stuck together as a group on the next bit of road. Having a nice chat until there was a quite long section of "up". Fairly large bits of "up" they were too, being marked with a chevron on the map. Still, I dropped off the back while I twiddled my way up them, and then there was quite a nice section of down into the town of Beverley.
This was the first manned control. The person here stamps your card and writes the time on it. Audax works on a series of "controls". You have to get to the controls in a certain time range based on the distance. There is a minimum speed and a maximum speed. I got there in just over 2 hours to cover 45 km. Which was pretty good going considering the included gravel path.
Then there was the final 55km back to the start of the ride. I covered that in 2hrs and 43 minutes, with one stop to top up water bottles and have a quick snack, as it was getting near lunch time.
The most memorable part of this was the Hare I saw. I was just cruising down a small hill, and came around a corner to see a Hare in the middle of the road. It ran off in front of me, saw that I was still following it and sped up. I was doing 41km/h (I checked to see how fast the Hare was going) and he was pulling away from me, then it swerved sideways into a field. Fast Hare. :D
Total time for the 100km ride, 4 hours 40 minutes (ish). My fastest ever time for 100km. Very pleased with that.
Then, time for lunch, and the 70km back home again. I covered that in 3 hours and 5 minutes. So 15 minutes slower on the way home (well, it was up hill).
Total time I was out of the house, 13 hours 20 minutes. Time on the bike, roughly 10 and a half hours. So almost 3 hours sat around eating and faffing.
Total distance covered, 242km (150 miles). 18.22 km/hr average speed (including stops).
I tell you something though, I do like being fit. Not struggling along at the back of a ride, wondering if you're going to finish in time is a good feeling.
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