Rickling, Stickling, Clavering and Bonking with Three Fast Ladies
I lost my virginity today. I completed my first ever Audax. I ache. I have some abrasions in places I prefer not to mention. But I bloody did it!
The Golden Tints Audax does not take Climate Change into consideration, as most of the tints we witnessed today were still decidedly verdant.
As I approached the train from Liverpool Street to Elsenham, a lady waved to me. In my confusion I thought it was Little Miss Mac, but it was Peliroja (Vicky). We nattered and I was flattered that she remembered me: we must have met at a previous Critical Mass, but my memory is so bad these days…
Once we arrived at the Shaftsbury CC Hut, the sun having decided to break through the mist, we greeted Tourist Tony and then, when they arrived, Litle Miss Mac (Alex) and the redoubtable Comet (Liz).
Shortly we were off but we hadn’t been going very long when LMM had a faerie visitation. I was in two minds here: we had an arrangement, whether spoken or not, that we would ride together. However, I knew right from the outset that maintaining 15 kmh for 109 km would be very close to my limits. I waited a little while as Alex & Vicky attacked the problem, but was so concerned that chivalry took second place to naked self-interest. Since these three ladies were invariably waiting for Tony & me (for that is the natural order of things) at the top of every hill, I did them a favour as well as I set off to try to cover some more Kms… They caught us up anyway within about 5 miles (8 km).
I would like to say that the ride was eventful, but I was concentrating so hard on keeping my speed above 15 kph that there were few events which drew my attention away from the matter in hand. I was fairly familiar with most of the morning’s route, and that saved us a little time and, in one case, the Leading Ladies a small diversion, where the left turn to Wimbish Green was not to be confused with a later left turn to Wimbish. We passed Wimbish Village Hall, the scene four years ago of a County Chess semifinal in which Essex lost to Cambridgeshire but I won a particularly memorable K & P ending.
We returned to the Club Hut in good time for the stage, but then spent too long (in my view) over lunch. At 1 pm, with about another 60km still to do, and less than 4 hours in which to do them, I set off, shortly to be overtaken by the ACF Peloton of 4.
We returned to the B1383, quite a ghastly road, and probably no slower than when it was the A11, and headed through Newport then left to Strethall. The scenery now was superb. Who said Essex was flat? We were treated with wide, expansive views, suffered climb after climb, and descent after descent. At one point my speedo read 63.6, without a doubt my fastest ever going solo, but sadly this was measured in Kms, so works out at 39.75 mph. Still my personal best on a solo machine.
We were, more or less, keeping up with the time, but it was touch and go, and I was seriously regretting my decision to wait 10 minutes with the faeries. There were some long, sometimes steep, climbs as we reached the highest point in Essex, near Chishill, and that’s almost in Hertfordshire. Now, pretty much every time we reached a hill-top, I needed to drink, and quite often I delved into the pack of soreen in order to keep the dreaded Bonk at bay, but it was an uphill struggle, in every sense of the expression.
The last 10 miles were an ordeal. I knew the others wanted to get on with it, but, lovely people, they waited for me (always the slowest) at hill-tops and junctions. I was beginning to shake as my blood sugar level dropped, and ate more soreen, but it didn’t seem to help. The fact that my cycle computer reckoned the route to be rather longer than the organisers claimed was also a source of discomfort, but gradually the row of pylons I knew to mark the end of the journey came ever closer; we crossed the M11, and finally returned to the Club Hut.
An Audax has to be completed at a speed no less tha t 15kph, which for 109 km is 7 hours 16 minutes. The finishing time was 4.46 pm. I am still not sure what was written on my brevet card: was it 4.44 or 4.45? I don’t know, but all I do know was that I had a terrific day courtesy of the Shaftsbury Cycing Club and ACF and I’ve done an Audax!
One footnote: Tony mentioned my bike. It’s not the bike that fails to fly, but its portly, decrepit, arthritic owner. I am quite confident that, in the hands of an athlete, it would be perfectly adequate.
Edit: no photos this time. I took the camera, but never had the time to use it.