About 10 days have passed now since that epic cycle ride from London to Edinburgh and back. Since then, many blogs and Facebook group posts have been written with riders’ and volunteers’ tales of London-Edinburgh-London. All contain great stories of camaraderie and ingenuity when faced with challenges. This left me with a warm feeling and appreciation for how much kindness there is in this wonderful Audax community. It also left me with an itching desire to experience it all over again in four years’ time. As time passes by, my memory of the ride fades along with any physical niggles I may have picked up along the way. I could add my account of what happened along the way to Chris Herbert’s and Darren Franks’ excellent blogs which cover 2/3rd of my story anyway. Instead, I prefer to tap into those lingering thoughts and feelings that make LEL so special, that make me want to do it again, and that make me want to encourage anyone reading this blog to join me in 2021. LEL: you’re under my skin.
As part of my preparations for London-Edinburgh-London at the end of July, and ultimately my End 2 End record attempt in September, I decided to ride two 400km Audax events back to back at the end of April. On Saturday 29 April at 6am I set out for the 407km London-Wales-London, followed by a departure from Poole on Sunday 30 April at 2pm for the Porkers 400. I just wasn’t hardcore enough to ride between the two events…
Super what? I know I am probably talking to a niche group of people, but I am happy and proud to say that after completing a series of 200, 300, 400 and 600 km Audax rides this year, I now qualify as ‘super randonneur’. It’s been fun and a slippery slope, as I am already eyeing 1,000+km Audax rides now…
One of my plans for this year was to insert some more of the “ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike” approach into my training to balance the many hours on the turbo. And so I did. Over winter I have done a few long rides to visit friends or family, in early March I kicked off my Audax Super Randonneur series and last week I went to see my mum in Brittany, covering 550 miles on the bike there and back.
For some of you the images used in my last blog post hinting at my cycling dreams for 2016/17 may have been enough to grasp the enormity of the challenge I have set myself. Covering 843 miles solo, without sleeping or stopping, all within 52 hours, is probably more than any ‘normal’ person would want to do in a car, let alone on a bicycle. But as per the cliché quote:
‘Don’t limit your challenges … challenge your limits’.
Phew – somehow I managed to get that National 12-hr TT win in just in time before work just completely hijacked my life. Initially, I had planned to ride a few more time trials, but there was little point in riding them without any time to train.
With a mixture of joy for others and sadness because I couldn’t be there, I saw other riders do some great rides towards the end of the season when the conditions finally became a bit more kind than the windy, cold, wet and slow-ish conditions that prevailed this year. But there is no point dwelling on what could have been.
The last month at work has been tough. With the recruitment process still ongoing, the workload is unlikely to ease before Christmas. On the plus-side, we are working on some very exciting projects and I have been rewarded with a generous pay-rise, so I can’t grumble really.
If anything, it has made me realise that, oddly enough, the long distance events are actually the one thing I can do at the moment. So during September I have ‘compensated’ for the taxing working weeks with some long Audax rides in the weekends.
…from the wonderful world of aerodynamics and power data to the equally quirky scene of AudaxUK…
Probably one of the most popular hashtags among UK timetriallist on Twitter is #smashitup. Coined by (I believe) TT Champion of Champs Matt Bottrill and used by many of his coached riders, this approach may work for some but for me #mixitup is a much more appealing philosophy.
Having spent most of 2014 and 2015 training on my own, mostly indoors on the turbo, and racing yet another dual carriage way timetrial at the weekends, I recently just had enough of it. I think it was a bit of a vicious circle effect. I no longer enjoyed what I was doing and that showed in my performance. Also, because I no longer performed as well (whether that is due to other things in life getting in the way of training or just my training approach no longer being as effective), I started to enjoy my timetrialling even less.
So, following the motto that ‘a change is as good as a rest’, I went from the wonderful world of Cycling Time Trials with its aerodynamics and power data geeks to the equally quirky scene of AudaxUK (The Long Distance Cyclists’ Association) with its route sheets, maximum speeds and some men sporting very fine beards indeed.