Archive for the ‘AUDAX ride’ Category

No. 43 – 26/9/09 – DIY GG Leg1/2/3 of LEL09 and back 418Km

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I don’t think it’s nostalgia. After all – I DNF the LEL09 so why would I want to do the route again?? My excuse is that I wanted to check how feasible it would be to do the first 200km or so of the route with a fixie!

Well, the conclusion is that going North is very doable. I did not have to walk even once. Going back, however, posed two challenging sections at the very last 10Km, which I could not climb (too steep) and had to walk a hundred meters or so in each case.

Judging from how knackered I was at the end of the 418 Km I can fully appreciate how difficult it would be to do the full length of the LEL on a fixie. While my timing was far from bad (I mastered it in about 26 hours and 50 minutes) that really leaves me with just 90 minutes or so ‘in hand’. That means that if I wanted to go the distance and achieve 600km I would certainly not be able to do it – I will be too tired and far too slow at the end of it.

Doing the LEL route yet again was kind of fun though. I know it quite well and spent a good time in the first half singing to myself and having a good time. I also made good progres (this time it was NOT a back wind!) and covered 210 Km in 12 hours – exceptionally good in my book! Coming back was an increasingly hard struggle, with tiredness and sleepiness and what not. At some stage I just felt soooo tired I had to stop and take a nap. The night was cold but I just didn’t care. I found a place in the field and just collapsed there and then. I did remember to look at the watch and memorised the time (03:10) so I could learn how long I was asleep for. I don’t know how long it took me to fall asleep (seemed like forever) but when I wole up I was really astonished to see that I spent just 15 minutes in horizontal position. So far I am consistent beyond belief – every time I go to sleep on the road doing an Audax ride I sleep excatly 15  minutes and I wake up without any crude artificial means (like an alarm clock of sorts).

It is pretty lonely out there, but from time to time I encounter people. Especially when I stop… So this time I was at a petrol station and it was like 22:00 or so and I was delighted that it was still open (they are not a 24 hours establishment). Upon purchasing some water the clerk asked politely ‘so, do you have far to go?’. Yeah, I replied casually. Quite far. All the way to London. He gave me an incredoulous look, ‘Seriously’ – I say nonchalantly and leave the store.

I guess doing the distance does give me some bragging rights – however limited. Sure – there are out there many hundreds of people that are so much stronger and faster (and certainly younger) than me, but there are many millions who would not even consider coverig such distances on a bike – so I can brag here and there.

Upon return (and after few days of recovery) I did some calculations to ascertian how much have I improved or deteriorated compared to my pre LEL long distance rides (which were done on my geared bike). Amazingly, I have improved! So a fixie certainly doesn’t seem to slow me down, but subjectively I feel that I was more tired at the end now than I was then – or I just forget how bad it was …

No. 42 – 5/9/09 – DIY London <-> Kings Lynn – 332Km

Friday, September 11th, 2009

My task for this year is to go for the golden standar of SR (Super Randonneurs) this year. That means 200, 300, 400 and 600km. Moreover – I would like that to be gained on a fixed wheel! So this ride was my first attempt at the 600. I obviously did not make it – but did complete the 332 km distance in a quite acceptable 19 hours.

The ride route is quite simple: London -> Cambridge -> Kings Lynn and back. It’s almost a straight line going NE and the SW. The first half I did in real good form. I averaged 20km/h for the first 100 km. That’s pretty amazing at first sight – but not so much so if you consider that I also had a tail wind in assistance.

Obviosuly – what comes up must go down and they way back confronted me with an equally strong head wind. As one can expect – it felt so much stronger than before 🙁 I guess it’s a combination that no assistance is ever ‘too much’ and I was already quite tired, having covered 166km by then.

I had two short sleeping breaks, when I felt that my cycling path is too wobly for my own safety. I really don’t quite understand it, but every time I got up within 10 minutes of lying down – no alarm clock or anything. It’s wonderful what  short period of closing one eyes does!

I had one worrying moment in Cambridge when I was not sure if I will find a place to get a receipt and to fill up my water bottles. Luckily I had an inspiration and I found a hole in the wall AND a watering hose in a closed petrol station. Crisis averted!

On my way back, I dreaded the climb in the Hertford city, which I remembered to be REALLY steep and REALLY hard. For some peculiar reason – it wasn’t so at all! On the other hand, on the route to Potters Bar there were two climbs that sucked all the energy from me. I did not give up ever and never walked – but it was quite an effort.

No. 41 – 29/8/09 – DIY Hertforshire – 100Km

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Licking my wounded pride over the ‘shameful’ abandoning of the LEL09, I decided to go back to Audaxing – and try to make it stick with my fixed gear. As a warm up, I did a 100 km ride – trying to go for speed. I was quite successful, except that the route was one of the very earliests I have created as a DIY and took me to places that were quite unsuitable for road bike riding. Overall I enjoyed it, but vowed to delete that route from my route schedule – just not a good one.


Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

So that’s the very sad summary – I Did Not Finish. Overall I did about 600Km before calling the wife to rescue me. I bitterly regret it now, but what’s done is done. The least i can do now is to learn from that adventure (and adventure it was) and be much better prepared for Paris Brest Paris 2011 amd, if I am still as keen  then as I am now, LEL13.

So here are the lessons that I leaned, not necessarily in the order of importance…

1. Preparations. It is NOT right to clean the bike on the say of departure, nor it is to pack the night before. I should be all set and ready few days before the departure day and manage to get 10-20km ride on the bike just to check that all is fine.

2. Make much better use of bag drop. Have a new pair of clothing wherever I could possibly spend the night, as well as whatever I may need to see me through the next day. That may mean having quite a bit of spare clothing, but that’s a small ‘penalty’ to pay.

3. Ride faster – this is really critical. I should average at least 17Km/h (including any stops) as default (excluding sleep breaks).

4. Sleep less – Only sleep where absolutely necessary and for the minimum amount of time. I should aim for 300-400 in one stretch rather than 200. Alternatively have real short ‘power nap’ sleeps after 200 Km sections.

5. Combination of 3 and 4 – build contingency into the plan. My plan had 1 hour of contingency – that’s laughable.

6. Good clothing is more important than food (to carry). I can replenish myself at every control with food – but clothing I can’t.

7. LOSE WEIGHT – easier said than done, but it is blatantly obvious that 10kg less to haul up a mountain wil lmake a really big difference. Still not sure how to achieve it – I just like eating too!

8. Good gear for rainy conditions. I had TWO ‘rain proof’ jackets that were just no good. I must invest in a really decent quality rain proof jacket.

9. Solution for wet cycling shoes. In LEL09 I famously wraped my shoes with plastic bags. It worked, for sure, but it was not kust funny, but also cumbersome and time consuming. A better solution I must find.

10. Change the handlebar to a standard ‘drop’ style. The flat handlebar was OK-ish, but I am sure that a standard one with drops is easier on the hands. I tried it with the fixie and – it’s just so.

11. Last here – but really should be first – never quit until you are forced to. I abandoned the journey way before I HAD to (if it would have actually amounted to that is unclear – but very likely). I should remember that whatever ‘projections’ and ‘plans’ I am making should not be a guide to action. Only the here and now should when it comes to giving up.

No. 40 – 11/7/09 – DIY Leg 7/8 LEL09 – 220Km

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

That was to decide whether I am REALLY going for it or chicken out. The test involved the highest climb on the route (Yad Moss – 610m) – twice. The first half was really good and fast, probably thanks to me not being tired, nice weather and – most mportantly perhaps – having a tail wind!

The return, on the other side, was really sad. It rained like hell, I got wet to the bones, shivered, fell into a ditch full of rtunning water and had to tackle the head wind on top of it all. I made it to the end (what choice did I have – the car was waiting for me there) but I became painfully aware that I MUST – really MUST be prepared for a rainy condition or I’ll be totally ‘dead’. I think I know now what to do – so that was a valuable, if somewhat painful, lesson!