Sunday 27 March 2011

The Dean (307k audax)

Started this week with full on anxiety. I knew that I had plans to cycle a 300k audax on the weekend. This would be the second time I had ever attempted to cycle such a distance. 'Why' is a question one might ask. I am not sure I know the answer.

Training began on the Monday. First off was an indoor cycle on the rollers followed immediately by a run. SJ and I ran the Studley Traingle (door to door) and were only 5 seconds off our fastest time (not that we race). My legs really ached following this activity, I wondered how on earth I would fare Saturday. SJ distracted my thoughts and gave me a belated birthday present which was awesome - it was a T-shirt with a print of DMR pedals on the front. Nice!
Tuesday was spent cycling with Ron. We took our mountain bikes out and cycled an extended version of the 'Deer Route'. This was a pleasant evening and we had a good time creature spotting. Strangely no deer were to be seen, but we did see a rabbit, frogs, ducks, a badger, sheep and cats.

I repeated the route above again on Wednesday, but this time as a solo effort and during the day. No interesting creatures were spotted this time around and worse still a splatted frog lay where the frogs were seen the night before. Is not often that I cycle before an on-call shift but the sun was shining so bright that I felt really motivated to go out.

The weekend saw me complete 'The Dean', a 307k audax in Oxford. My buddy Ron joined me for this event. I wrote the comments below following the event where my mind and body are not in their usual state. This event should be re-titled as 'The mean Dean'.

Ron picked me up at a most horrid hour - 4 a.m! Luckily I had gotten my bike and kit ready the night before. With bikes loaded in car we reached Oxford in time for me to collect my brevet card and started the event on time at 6 a.m. We were 2 of about 100 riders (Ron had entered un-offically). The start was cold and misty but we were suitably clothed - I was wearing 4 layers. It didn't take long to warm up further as this start was super zoomy for an audax event. Ron and I stayed with the group of cyclists leading the pack but tucked in behind a few others to benefit from a 'tow'. This first section was mostly quiet lanes but there was a few hills and a relatively mean one before control. We had until 9 a.m to reach the first control in Stow, but we were so speedy we had reached it by 7.40 a.m (it had opened only 10 mins earlier). Our stop here was short. I just purchased a bottle of water (for sake of receipt) and ate some malt loaf I had prepared earlier.

Leaving Stow we cycled along familiar paths in Bishops Cleeve, Winchcombe and Tewkesbury. There was lots of hills during this stage and I am suprised the event organiser did not award us with AAA points (I felt he should). Some fast descents put a smile on my face and it was breakfast once we reached Newent! We both had a beans on toast with egg and a big mug of tea for me and coffee for Ron. We both looked quite pooped after cycling only a 100k, a third of the way through our epic advneture.
From Newent to Chepstow we encountered more hills. Hilly menace! To make things worse I had gotten something in my eye. Ron plucked the offending object from my eye - still not sure what it was but looked very much like worm poo. Maybe the gunk was evidence of infection - my poor eye had been watering and itchy for miles.  Ron said I should put salt in my eye, stating I should trust him as he is 'a first aider' - now where have I heard that before?! Passing through the Forest of Dean was lovely and we saw a wild pig. This wild pig (boar according to Ron) was dead and appeared to be the victim of road kill - Ron said the locals had killed it and would put it between some slabs of bread if we were not passing by. Reached the control and ate junk for our efforts. This junk was chicken pieces, a pasty slice and more of my malt loaf. (Frequently throughout trip we would munch on biscuits or gels etc).

From leaving control we were faced with another hill almost straight away. This hill was worth climbing as it led to the Severn Bridge which was just awesome. Have now crossed this bridge 3 times on a bike. Again another big hill (at Hawkesbury Upton) had to be climbed  before we reached the control in Malmesbury. This control was great as we stopped and ate in style. We both had soup, bread, roll, tea and a slice of chocolate cake. I swear Ron winked at the waitress and was given an extra large slice of cake for so doing.

From Malmesbury we cycled over the Marlborough Downs and 'over' was the fact of it. We had to climb big fat hills. 2 particularly big fat hills. These hills were hard work but the sighs were rewarding. We spotted 2 of Wiltshire's white horses. The second horse was half way up the final ascent and I could hear the horse saying 'reach me and I'll gallop you to the top' or was that Ron? Or even the voices in my head? Whatever it was I reached the top and then was rewarded with a super descent passing sighs to Avebury. It was dark by the time we reached the control in Membury. Both Ron and I were using our Ay-Up lights which are just awesome and in addition I was using cheap lights brought in end of year sales with which I am happy with too. All my kit was carried in my carradice zipped roll bag which I found great too but would maybe benefit with a slightly larger bag. We ate lots here at the control (being the last control before finish) and included was pasty, chocolate and more beverage.

The final slog took us from Membury back to Oxford. It was, of course, pitch black now but we sped along relatively flat lanes and B roads. So awesome to reach the finish. This was the first 300k event Ron had completed and I wonder if he will cycle this distance again? For me, this event has enabled me to reach Randonneur 1,000 status and I could use this event as a qualifier for PBP (ha!). In terms of PBP, I am halfway through the qualifying events, just a matter of a 400k and 600k event to go... Hmm, the mind is willing but the backside says no!

During audax cycled a distance of 190.42 miles at an average speed of 14.5 mph and a max speed of 45.3 mph.

Weekly totals: Cycled 249 miles; Ran for 33 mins.


  1. Awesome stuff lads.
    0400.....300k.....severn bridge etc
    How do you do it?
    All I can say is..."R E S P E C T !"

  2. Yay great achievement. Well done!

    I was towing trailer in the same kind of area on Sat,there were many cyclists about but I don't expect I actually passed you.

  3. Awesome! Nice one Doo! I just love the fact that you started the week training ready for the small matter of a 300K event at the end of the week! you'll be looking to do LEJOG in 5 days next...


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