Saturday 6 August 2011

Montgomery Madness (208k audax) [perm]

Only _ days to go now till the PBP! That means that there ain't too many days left for you good good people to sponsor my efforts and help build 'Tim's Well', which will provide clean drinking water for  280 students at a school being built in Kenya, plus 40 teenagers residing in 'Kimbilio' (a nearby Agape in Action shelter) and for the entire surrounding community. Please read about my project and/or sponsor me by clicking on this link:

Not many days left for good training for the PBP either. Oh well. This weeks training went real well. My first training session was with Ron and Sarah M. We took our bikes in a loop starting and finishing in Studley. The majority of this route was off road and we passed through Oldberrow, Shelfield, Little and Great Alne, Aston Cantlow, Coughton and Sambourne. The high-light of this adventure was passing through 2 fords. There are 3 fords in the area but I can't remember where the third one is (any ideas?). The first ford we passed through was somewhere between Aston Cantlow and Great Alne. This was the best ford and a sign saying 'impassable at all times' was there to provide adventurers like us a challenge! The sign held true for Sarah M, she fell from her bike and had a good wash! Ron made it across on first attempt, As for me, well, I kept putting my foot down until about my 3rd or 4th attempt where I made it across in one go! Woo hoo! The second ford in Coughton was no bother. The third awaits!
My second adventure was an epic. This adventure was shared with Ron and completed using our road bikes. This particular adventure was The Montgomery Madness 208k Permanent Audax. The Beacon Roads Cycling Club has this to say about said event - 'Montgomery 'Madness' is an appropriate title for this route. Aside from the obvious destination being the historic town of Montgomery in Mid-Wales, the 'Madness' refers to the challenging nature of this route. It is unrelentingly hilly with some serious climbs and deserves its 3.5 Audax Altitude Award Points. This route is not to be underestimated but there is benefit for all that hard work, unrelentingly picturesque views of stunning and varied countryside along with passage through some attractive Georgian market towns. Pick a day with good weather and this will be a ride to remember!'

We picked a good day with great weather (maybe the hottest day this year?!) and this ride will not be forgotten in a hurry. We started the event at about 8.30 a.m in Bewdley. The ride felt weird from the start, maybe because I was using both a new wheel set and new tyres. My bike felt like it was rolling over deep carpet but after a while I had gotten used to it. This really was a hilly event - it was hilly from the start and no flat road was encountered at all on passage to the first control in Bromyard. The control was awesome. Being so hot, we were able to sit outside and devour a full English breakfast with a mug of tea! The picture below represents the hilly nature of our adventure.

From Bromyard to Ludlow was what I liked to call 'the calm before the storm'. The ride started off hilly, but downhill, which was great. However, before the control was reached the hills started going up again. We sat outside a very pretty castle and ate ice cream once the control was reached.

Ludlow to Knighton was hilly indeed. Down then up was the pattern throughout. No sign welcoming us to Wales was passed but judging by folks accents and Welsh sign posting I figured we had gotten there. Chips with pie was our dinner here. I don't think I've had chips on any audax before. Hmmm.

Shropshire hills were battled from Knighton and once said hills were conquered a sign saying 'welcome to Shrosphire' appeared and shortly after 'welcome to Wales'. Madness! Ha ha, then we reached Montgomery. Bonkers B roads, lunatic lanes, crazy course, psychotic cycling - the Montgomery Madness! This section was very hilly throughout and the roads were narrow. At the control we had a well deserved piece of carrot cake and ice cream. After applying sun screen (thanks SJ x) we were off again!
Leaving Montgomery was hard work. We had to climb hills with a gradient of 17% in hot weather. We felt great as we conquered said hills and passed Stiperstones and Great Mynd (which means long mountain, so Ron tells me). After the hills came the reward - a long steep descent called the Burway. A reward for Ron, a curse for me! Bombing down this hill (and speeds of over 46 mph were reached) I punctured! Whoa, scary indeed but no damage. Rolled my bike to the bottom and with Ron's help fixed said puncture. Happy to be rolling again and decided not to re-trace back up big hill to bomb down again! We reached the control in Bridgnorth and ate sausage roll and pork pie. It was getting a wee bit dark now too, so added sleeves and set lights up before continuing.
The last leg was short but felt longer. I guess I was eager to finish but the relentless nature of this route was menace. The hills kept coming and it was dark too. The last hill was great, it was downhill and led to the finish! Woo hoo! Job done, what a great ride!

Cycled 208k (or 129 miles) during audax

Used my road bike again in the week. This was during an indoor rollers session. I did not cycle at a very high intensity but I kept my average speed above that of last week (as I have been doing week by week) and cycled at an average speed of 27.5 mph.
The last training session of the week was with my girl 'SJ'. We took our bikes all the way to Kings Norton following country lanes. Prior to the country lanes we passed through Arrow Vale lake. The weather was great and we were having fun. On route we stopped and equipped ourselves with lucozade which helped wash down the flap-jacks that SJ had purchased from a granny at market. The flap-jacks provided energy to push us both up the hills towards our destination. We reached Kings Norton and had a look around a Bible exhibition. The exhibition was interesting and they also provided us with juice and biscuits. At this stop I fixed my slow puncture, well tried too - the new tube I had put in was split. Luckily I had another tube and my puncture problem was solved. When we left the exhibition, my badger navigational skills kicked in and got us lost. I was hoping to go home via Tanworth and Earlswood lakes. Instead we cycled a few circles and headed home down country lanes close to those we had cycled to get to the exhibition. It was a wee bit wet on the return. Once we got to Arrow Vale lake for the second time, disaster struck. Some 'idiot' (the voices in my head calling him something else) on a bicycle rode straight into the back of SJ's bike. Luckily SJ was ok but the gears on her bike were whacked out of sync. SJ and I soldiered back home with thoughts of kebab meat and chips.
Weekly totals: Cycled 210 miles.

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