Rat Race pt 2 ‘An Audax Affair’

 

“Audax’ is a Latin adjective with two meanings- courageous, spirited or foolhardy, presumptuous and rash. After you read this I will let YOU decide which one applies.

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As part of our training for London to Edinburgh in 2 days, Andrew Deaner, one of our team of four, a long distance rider, avid Spurs fan, leading cardiologist and general all round top guy, suggested that it would be a good build up if we did the 3 Down Audax on 7th April.  At 310km it was a ride from Chalfont St Peter to the New Forest and back again. Ken and I jumped at the chance to get some quality distance miles in with a month to go.  Alan on the other hand was working on his own build up and his tan lines with a family holiday, albeit with some quality miles on the bike planned.  To rub it in there were more than a few sun baked tweets on my timeline and a myriad of texts from Majorca – I hope roaming rates applied!

A week earlier over the Easter weekend we had another surprise addition to the team support roster, ‘Science in Sport’, the top sports nutrition company had come on board as an extra sponsor for the team.  An ‘SIS SOS’ care package duly arrived with an array of hydration, carbohydrate, protein powders and various go faster for longer products, plus a trio of the much revered yellow bidons. I began using these on my training rides straight away to supplement the Malt Loaf and bananas.

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With an early start planned for the big ride, Andrew had very kindly offered for me to stay at his house the night before.  This was a short distance from the start and not only was his wife Sharon cooking a family meal; he picked me up from home on the way past as well. Did I mention he was a top guy?             

 

Andrew had ruined the gear hanger on his Roubaix frame the week before in the Alps. Rob from Cycling Plus, knowing we had the big ride planned a couple of days later, dispatched a temporary replacement – a new shiny red Specialized Tarmac Comp. As this was removed from the box and I went to work with allen keys to help set it up mirroring the measurements from his other bike, slight envy washed over me.  This was more like it, a light-weight road bike, it looked stunning.  Dinner followed and I was put on the spot and press ganged into making an impromptu salad dressing when Andrew’s wife Sandra found out I was a Chef.

We would be up at 4.30am so off to bed at 10.30 pm.  Well bed but not sleep as my mind wouldn’t switch off; I was doing the math in my head.  Now I am no Archimedes but 310km or 191miles in old money was a long way.  The furthest I had ridden in my life was 150 miles in a day and that was 12 years ago in the Ardennes.  9 months previous, along with Alan, we had ridden 116 miles into Amien on day 2 of our chef group ‘London to Paris’ trip but hardly anything from July to February apart from a bit of grouse and a boxing match if you follow my blogs.Image   After what seemed like no sleep the alarm call went and a hasty change into cycling kit.  The shock of a good dollop of chamois cream on the shorts at early o’clock is an odd feeling!  A hasty bowl of instant porridge, strong coffee, a de-icing of the car and a 20 min trip to the start to join the other crazy 40 or so riders.

 

Ken arrived some 15 mins later and as a Health and safety manager for Lotus Cars, I was sort of surprised that he didn’t have a high Vis jacket on and ask to fill in a Risk Assessment for stupidity!

At just after 6.00am it was a dark cold start, some photos by Tom from Cycling Plus, and we were last on the road, no matter it was a long way to ride, so steady was the way forward.  The first stop was Pangborne at 32 miles. Ranulph Feinnes I am not, however this was not the direct route and in the first stage we had gained an extra bonus 10 miles, we were well and truly last and morale had taken a bit of a dent.

 

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The next stage was to Kimbridge and we started to roll well.  As the temperature increased, morale improved and with Kens well timed humour it all had a knock on effect as the average speed climbed. A 25 minute pit stop, cup of coffee for me and a sandwich for Andrew and Ken and we were on our way.  Next stop Fordingbridge, onto a new forest circuit and some beautiful riding around our furthest point Linwood.   

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There was a sudden sound of metal, flesh and bone on asphalt just behind me, Ken had hit the deck, a 3 way collision with a feisty New Forest Pony and Andrews back wheel, Ken was fine, but it was an example of how these things can come out of the blue!

Just over 110 miles travelled and a turn for home into a block headwind on some of the exposed new forest plateau.  As we approached the winding lanes and some shelter we started to pass other riders.  I was feeling surprisingly good and my legs spun a good cadence.  As I got to the 150 mile mark, I psychologically ticked it off as a milestone.  Through Sparsholt and my legs were still feeling ok.  Eating and drinking constantly I felt well fuelled.  Ken was also riding strong but Andrew was beginning to slow slightly and his fluid and comfortable style that he had on the first leg was gone and he was struggling to hold my wheel. On to Arlesford and there were a group of 15 or so riders all queueing at the local Co-Op.  We stopped to join and refuel for the final push. I didn’t want to stay to long, although it was warm in the sun, I wanted to avoid the dreaded “café Legs” where stopping made the legs feel like 2 pieces of wood the second you tried to get back on the bike.  Andrew really needed a rest so we sat on the verge with the others, eating and drinking our purchases.

30 minutes and we were on the go again this time as part of a group but knowing that the daylight would soon turn to dusk and was getting colder. I was keen to set the pace and soon there were only the 3 of us left again.  The stop hadn’t made Andrew feel any better and with Ken turning off at Reading to join a family party this was going to leave the 2 of us to ride the last 35 miles.

 

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Tom was still following in the car and tearing past to take shots when his artistic eye saw fit.  I suggested that Andrew, with still a good 165 miles training in his legs, put the bike in the car and join Tom.

I pushed on alone and it was starting to get dark.  The next stop was Sainsburys at Winnersh, 25 miles to go.  As I pulled up next to the car, I saw Andrew had a little more colour on his face, he had been sick just before getting in the car and was feeling a bit better. Andrew was the most experienced mile eater of us all, so not a matter of distance- a touch of dehydration maybe? Or the very suspect looking white tuna mayo sandwich he ate on the 2nd leg, or my salad dressing from the night before? Surely not the latter…!

 

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My lights were on and with the last leg through the lanes to Chalfont St Peter, I suggested to Tom that he drove at circa 25mph and I got behind the car the first few miles.  It was quite exhilarating imagining I was Fabien Cancellara.  Then the final slap in the face – my eyes were a bit dry and tired, my right contact lens flew out! With a near blind -10 prescription this was far from ideal! The last 10 miles were spent riding Cyclops fashion, one eye shut and a couple of feet behind a car in the pitch black.  All down windy pot hole festered lanes with just over 12½ hrs in the saddle; I was determined to stay the course and finish.

 

30 minutes later we arrived at the HQ – 201 miles completed, 10,700 ft elevation and not forgetting the hour full gas effort to finish, I am not too proud to say I was well and truly spent….

 

The Rat Race in May, was 2 days like this in a row! It was going to be an epic Challenge…..

 

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~ by theboxterboy on May 1, 2013.

One Response to “Rat Race pt 2 ‘An Audax Affair’”

  1. […] Rat Race pt 2 ‘An Audax Affair’. […]

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