Thanks for joining me!
Utah! Get me two! — Angelo Pappas, Point Break
I’m sure there’s a much more inspirational Point Break quote to use here, but it’s still the best moment in the best film ever… At least, that’s what I thought when I started cycling back in the mid Nineties (see my profile for how I got into cycling).
So where am I now? Contemplating some big, big rides in 2019. Having reconnected with my love of cycling in the past 12 months – this time last year I was battling the wind and ripio in Patagonia – I’ve decided to explore the edges of what I’m capable of.
But, let’s first rewind to the spring of 2018…
I had always been a bit curious about the strange Audax types who frequent my pub. As far as I could work out, they seemed to do all their cycling at night and in the rain. They are obsessed with statistics and keep meticulous records of how far they have been, how many beers they have consumed and how far Steve Abraham is from Marsh Gibbon at any given point in time.
But I also knew they did some dauntingly long rides. Up to that point, I hadn’t even managed a century ride, although I had got to 97 miles a couple of times whilst touring. I thought, what the hell, let’s go and do one, so I signed up for the Green & Yellow Fields 300km Audax from Manningtree, Essex. The G&Y is a classic ride that starts at midnight after everyone gets together for a curry.
My guides for the ride were Huggy and Tomsk from ACME (Audax Club Mid Essex) who I knew a little from the pub. Both are very experienced Audaxers and they let me tag along in the ACME “B” peloton for the duration of the ride. I’m not going to lie, it was damn tough… The first 100km or so were straight forward, through the night, nice and easy chatting about cricket and bikes. But as the day broke, I found it harder and harder to feel comfortable on the bike – I just wasn’t used to cycling for so long. The engine was fine, it was just that everything ached.
I managed to cling on with the group and make it to the finish. And although I really struggled for the second half of the ride, I was struck by how inclusive and kind everyone was in the group. There were no egos, no show offs – everyone was encouraging and just enjoyed riding on a glorious day in the company of like-minded people.
So I well and truly caught the long distance cycling bug, (once I had forgotten about the painful bits!) and in 2018 I became a Super Randonneur – an Audax term for someone who has completed a series of rides (200km, 300km, 400km & 600km) in one season. To make it more “fun”, I did all the rides on Calvin – my fixed wheel Condor Tempo.
So what are these big rides? 2019 is 20 years since I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End – so I’d like to do an anniversary ride, but the other way round, with some more hills thrown in, and maybe in only seven days. And of course, 2019 is a PBP year. Paris-Brest-Paris is a 1,200km ride in 90 hours across northern France – the pinnacle of the Audax calendar and something that is calling my name. And then there’s TCR, there’s always TCR in the back of my mind…