My first (probably the last) RRtY Audax

I’m now the rather proud owner of my first Audax award one of only 819 folks in the UK 🙂 The award is given for completing at least a 200km Audax on twelve consecutive months hence its name “Randonneurs Round the Year” or RRtY.

A very welcome McDonalds in the pouring rain!

My first ride of my series was the Santa Special in December 2017 notable for my water bottle being totally frozen by the time I reached the start in Great Bromley!  The first half was below freezing  which then quickly changed to torrential rain for the second half 🙁 a pretty challenging 129 miles! Thanks Alex Nigel & others for the support.

Sunrise at Dullingham

The second ride in January was a DIY due to the dearth of events but with Marks words of encouragement & his excellent notes I was able to create and submit a 127 mile route starting from my front door 🙂 and where I could start at 6am. The first 40 miles was 3 degrees below freezing but then rose to a balmy 6 degrees 🙂 but a pleasant ride via Bury & March all the same.

By February I was getting fed up with the cold and so decided to experiment taking the bike on the train to South Spain and completing my first continental 200 Audax the blog post can be found here all done in positive temperatures 🙂

Felixstowe docks

In March I decided to do my first Permanent these are predefined routes, many from previous calendar events, which can be ridden at any time this removes the need to create your own route fortunately for me Nick Wilkinson has made several which pass within one mile of my house. The worse aspect is the tediousness of collecting receipts as prove of passage whereas on DIY’s you just submit the completed gps file.  I chose The Shipping Lanes one which involved getting to the mouth of The Orwell  & back. A lovely route apart from the shocking road condition and below freezing for the first few miles!

Sally’s Pork Pie

In April Sally joined me on The Georgian event  which unfortunately I DNF’d due to getting a puncture in atrocious wet & cold conditions. However, we salvaged the situation by doing another one of Nick’s Permanents  The Infamous Pork Pie  with its over 5,000 feet of climbing which also enabled Sally to see her brother in Oundle.

Sally enjoying the half way point

May saw me doing a cheeky 200km DIY as  a one way run, downhill with a tail wind from my sons house in Buxton plus later in the month we managed The Grand Tour de Stour Event a bit wet to begin with but later a lovely sunny & windy day.

 

In June I decided to be bold and  do my first 300km event another Nick Permanent the Cambridge East Anglia Tour it turned into a very enjoyable ride and amazing how much ground you cover in 200 miles taking in Ipswich, Norwich, Downham and the dull bit around Chatteris. Somewhat spoilt by having to collect so many receipts 🙁

Sally of roading

July we did the 5 Counties Ride organised by Sally’s friends which we converted into a DIY Audax a tremendously hot day, at one point the Wahoo recorded 40 degrees which really took it out of me especially with the of road sections.

 

 

The Woburn Deer

August saw me doing another one of Nicks Permanents this time the delightful 4 Counties 200 Km taking me over to the West through Woburn Park and even a pleasant bit through Milton Keynes what really made the day though was having an Easterly pushing me out and then conveniently turning into a Westerly to bring me home! Later in the month with Sally, I did my second 300 The Mildenhall Festival  which I found tiring although quite delightful in the dark from Swaffham.

On the first day of September Sally and I did the Chris Negus Memorial 200+  starting in Wendens Ambo another very hilly and convoluted route neither of which enamour me 🙁 especially since it came in at 230km.

Mallorcan Sun Rise

October saw us in Spain again, this time a DIY circumnavigating Mallorca the roads were pretty busy so it didn’t quite turn out as good as we hoped but at least it gave us another 200km ride in decent weather 🙂

 

The final ride for my RRtY was in November to celebrate I did two the first one to get approved was a Permanent by Phil Whitehurst called The Four Minute Mile which is a very hilly ride crossing the Chilterns from Stevenage to Oxford and return this I did with Sally, Nigel & Yasmin from the Cambridge CTC a lovely route although navigating lanes and rickety cycle paths in the dark is not the best experience. I did another 200 Permanent earlier in the month Nicks Diss’d Clare Permanent but still waiting for that to be processed 🙁

So there it is my first and probably my last 12 months of riding a 200km every month, it gets quite stressful as if you miss a month you have to start all over again. Personally I’m staggered how some guys get up to 10 years of them! but then there seem to be plenty of audacious folks out there 🙂

A full index of the 27 Audaxes I’ve done can be found at https://www.geoffjones.com/audaxs-ridden/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First test of my CTC leadership skills – Balsham to Isleham

Having been riding with the Cambridge CTC for the past 10 months I thought it was now time to try my hand at being a Group Leader on one of their City Thursday rides.

First thing I had to learn was that it’s the leader job to work out a route between the previously designated coffee stop and lunch stop. As well as satisfying the mileage requirements or timings coffee by 11 am lunch by 1 pm. My first route had a long route between coffee & lunch so was rated as poor so I returned to ridewithgps.com. Apparently, the preferred distances are 18/18/24 miles or thereabouts.  After some fiddling, I created this route which met all the criteria as well as satisfying myself on a different route out of the city avoiding both the DNA narrow track and the awful surface on the Barton road track.

So Thursday came with totally perfect cycling weather, I bumped into Simon coming down Gonville Place on the way to the start so I clearly wasn’t going to be on my own. In fact, 6  other riders showed up. I managed to get all their names for the required Registration Form, something I had been agonising over as I’m useless with faces & names.

Crossing The Lode

At 9.15 prompt we departed the first mistake of the day for me was that I didn’t designate a backmarker but Glynn kindly did it anyway. The second mistake was not having a rear view mirror so I couldn’t tell if I was on my own out front or with the group.

We made smooth progress through Grantchester and the new Trumpington Meadows Country Park. After passing around Whittlesford we discovered that Jeff had gone AWOL probably because we had deviated slightly from my published route, John went back but couldn’t find him so after 10 minutes we carried on the next holdup was Glyn scoring a puncture. However, we still made it to the wonderful Old Butchers cafe in Balsham at 11 am to meet up with the village group. I love the friendly rivalry between the city slickers and the village people. Jeff rejoined our group having got lost in the graveyard

After a very relaxing 30 minutes with a slight change in riders, we departed for Isleham along the B1052 through Newmarket at a decent pace on a good road. We arrived at The Griffin pub. at 12.45 way before the others. However, there was still quite a delay in getting our food since apparently, no one had warned them about 14 hungry cyclists turning up.

We returned home with the inevitable headwind across the fens to Wicken Fen and then along the Lode Way & new Quy cycleway back to Cambridge.

A splendid cycling day and a good introduction to ride leadership for me with an experienced group, although I MUST get a mirror.

Thanks to Seb for the header photo and post ride cuppa.

The days Strava:

Return to Moscow

Sunday 29th July 2018

After the nights shenanigans I woke up feeling really ill which was a pity as the lake looked really inviting. However, I decided to leave Ostashkov and get back to big city life and all its niceties in Moscow.

Ostashkov is definitely up and coming and I’m sure the derelict properties will soon be worth a fortune with the huge lake ideal for all water sports and its location midway between Moscow & St. Petersburg. I found one of the recently renovated trendy cafes and managed to eat some porridge which later proved indigestible 🙁

I decided to leave the Schwinn behind at Ostashkov rail station as the gear change was finally broken plus the rear wheel & headset bearings were worn out , in its 4 years with me it’s covered 11,100 miles on Strava plus loads more as my town bike at home so not bad value for £163. Also it now meant it was easier on the express trains as I couldn’t face the slow train back to Moscow.

The train back to Bologoye was shown as an express but went the same speed as before! Except it was now a slow sleeper train with the old style sleeper compartments.

In Bologoye the staff recognised me and were obviously puzzled were the bike was and I why I was willing to pay the huge amount extra to use the Sapsan high speed train to Moscow!

I was beginning to stress out when no platform was shown for my train, I went to see my guardian angel alas she had been replaced by an old dragon 🙁 I managed to get the security guy to understand and he raced me through the security checkpont, the Sapsan has its own waiting room & security, I discovered then it was a race down the new platform around 1km the 20 coach train itself was 500 metres long! And of cause my coach was the final one! Thank goodness I wasn’t lugging the bike along…

On board I was offered fine dining but alas all I could stomach was an ice cream & water.

The ride was very smooth comfortable & fast. In Moscow I had booked the Orange Hotel which wasn’t as close to the terminal as they made out especially since it was on the fifth floor of an old apartment building! I felt wrecked & collapsed in bed.

Birthday source

Saturday 28 July 2018

On my 71st birthday I was up bright and early ready to start the journey to The Volga’s source, , having slept OK despite how busy the Russian rail network was below me.

Nowhere was open for breakfast at 5.30 so I made do with a crust of bread in my bag hoping to get more breakfast in Ostashkov.

Yesterday’s guardian angel rescued me from the wrong platform and managed to get me on the packed train to Ostashkov 🙂

The train slowly rocked and rolled onwards after the first couple of stations I extricated myself to a pair of seats that had been vacated and later took the bike to near the exit and started to reassemble it, we eventually arrived In Ostashkov which I was surprised to find was the terminus so I had to patiently wait for the whole carriage to clamber off the train 🙁

It was now getting quite late for starting such a long ride but I found the local supermarket and far to hastily bought nowhere near enough food for the day, especially without my usual eggy breakfast, the first hotel I saw said they were full tonight so I rushed on carrying all my belongings with me knowing full well that I had to return in the evening 🙁

The road proved of better quality than I thought so I sped along even finding a hotel on booking.com for the night which sounded great. All was going well untill the junction at Svapushche at 31 mile’s into the ride when the road descended into a corrugated sandy track for the last 15 miles 🙁 awful riding. Eventually after 4 hours of riding I made it to the source of the Volga

The source has a small hut over it and you can look down into the spring the whole area is quite bucolic especially with the domed church overlooking the small stream well worth all the trouble and expense of getting here.

Alas there was no food only some guy selling ice cream and some home made cloudy drink which I eagerly drank as i had run out of water.

So back down the dreaded sand road I went with the 4X4’s throwing up vast clouds of dust as they charged to & fro my rear gear changer finally gave up the ghost refusing to budge in any meaningful manner, the bike is finally breaking up on me 🙁

I made it back to Ostashkov first at the supermarket and then onto the Lubov Hotel with its magnificent lake setting feeling totally wrecked. I eventually found a bar open and had some pretty disgusting fish and chips.

In the night I became very ill with food poisoning throwing up my total stomach contents, not a good ending to my 71st birthday.

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