Some folks may be wondering why I have landed up at Uthai Thani in Thailand the answer lies in an urge I’ve had to do a 600km Audax and also to keep warm without burning £20 notes. So when Wit Pimkanchanapong pasted this up I was intrigued: Here is a list of the 125 participants in this year’s event plus 10 write-ups (use Google Translate) from previous years so a popular event! The route and Control Points can be found here
It starts on Friday at 8 pm (1 pm UK time) and I have 40 hours until midday on Sunday to complete it. Since the furthest, I’ve ever ridden are several 300km events it’s going to be interesting, to say the least. One positive is the night time temperature is at 23°C one huge minus is the day temp is 32°C and humidity at 80% 🙁 although I’ve been here a week and survived so far.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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!
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.
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 🙁
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.
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+ taking the train to Audley End and starting in Wendens Ambo another very hilly and convoluted route neither of which enamour me 🙁 especially since it came in at 230km.
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 🙂
Yesterday was the big day for my brevet Randonneur 200K GDR Murcia 2018 Villena Yecla, one of the main reasons for venturing a thousand miles South from the UK to escape the icy conditions of my previous two UK Audaxes in December & January, the weather in Murcia turned out as 9°C and 500m up it went down to 6°C so a close call 🙂
I applied for the Audax on Murcia’s Ultra cycling site and managed to transfer the €20 to them from my Barclays app (after working around its errors). However, imagine my dismay when I received an email saying “Don’t forget your cycling license.” Obviously being from the UK the idea of licenses is a bit of an anathema, since Audaxes are specifically not races a Race License at £80 didn’t seem a good investment. My post on the Facebook Audax forum suggested my AukUK membership card & Cycling UK card or even as a joker suggested, my Cycling Proficiency Certificate maybe would do.
So I turned up with 30+ others at The Bike Shop at 7.30 am (the previous day they had adjusted my gears and oiled the bike etc), to find all I had to do was to sign my Brevet Card and an A4 closely typed sheet of paper, who knows what it said, a bit like the webs T&Cs. so totally no problemo.
I was agog at the machinery & bikewear on display nothing like any UK Audax I’ve been too, plus everyone seemed my kid’s age (late 20’s to 40’s). We lined up for photos at 8.14 and then shot of, crikey it was like being in Taiwan again, instead of scooters at traffic lights it was a peloton. By the third set of lights, with my speedo having shown well in excess of 32km/hr, I knew I would be doing the ride on my own and so no need to worry about not knowing Spanish for chatting! Climbing the first hill I caught up with the only girl and her partner, he was peeing in the centre of the road! a few yards later they flashed past in turbo mode.
The Audax had 4 Control Points. At the designated distance/town you have to find a bar/cafe/service station and ask them to rubber stamp (sello de goma) the appropriate section of the card and add the arrival time. I chose the first cafe as it was full of cyclists alas none of them knew about Brevets or Audaxes my fellow riders had disappeared hours ago. I was dismayed to find I was within 30mins of the upper time limit. Oh dear mild panic set in as the bars/cafes don’t seem to do cakes etc and the service is usually very slow, the waitress pointed down the street to a churro van but I decided to just have my banana and gulped down my €1.20 cup of coffee.
BREVET Allowed TIMINGS
Top speed mph
Slowest Speed mph
The wind was pretty strong once I gained some height and always seemed to be in my face especially on the long straight never-ending section between Villena & Yecla. In Yecla I stopped at the service station to fill up on junk food their rubber stamp was inkless, no doubt though earlier overuse! 🙁 After leaving, it’s a 90-degree left-hand bend so with a strong wind up my rear & downhill – 40kph was soon reached and joy returned to my heart.
It was pretty good from then on (the difference the wind makes) except in Pinoso where the first bar I went in was run by English folks so of cause no rubber stamp 🙁
I caught the sunset and so arrived back in Murcia in darkness the finish was at Hotel Nelva they stamped my card at 7 pm and then retained it for the organiser to collect and send them for homologation with the Audax Club Parisien.
The roads were very quiet and Spanish drivers seem to be very courteous certainly compared to the UK. The road surfaces are very good apart from one small potholed section which required careful negotiation, but coming from England I’m quite used to that!
An enjoyable but very different experience to riding UK Audaxes especially with the Control Points, End Hotel and dare I say it the youthfulness of the riders 🙂
Here is the Strava which also contains a few pics:-