I missed my 30th commute of the year (and by default a bacon sandwich reward at my favourite morning café stop) due to Mrs B2W’s gall stones and resultant pain. The Easter school holidays meant that I had to take the car in for its service and provide entertainment for our 2 easily bored boys. In the end I took them into work for while I did some brief necessaries before taking them up to Duxford Air Museum. The American Air Hangar has been refurbished and while the aircraft are the same (but in different places) it is more interactive. The staff usually put on displays and talks during the holidays. In the past we have drawn planes, dressed up as SOE agents & done Q&A. They really know how to engage kids in WW1 & WW2 history. This time there was the opportunity to climb aboard an Avro Lancaster in the Air Space hangar. But I couldn’t bear the 30 minute wait with 2 boys low on concentration with a need to make full use of the playground facilities. I won’t bore you with my photos as most are of the boys dressing up in uniforms of the era. This guy posted his on Instagram from his visit the following day.
Down on miles for the week, I decided to ride a 1st Audax, only my 2nd 100km ride. I’d had my eye on it for a while but thought that I’d be committed elsewhere so didn’t register. Luckily I could register on the day so I rode up to Ugley to the start. There are many pre fabricated huts around there that were used post war by cycling clubs based in London as overnight accommodation before and after racing. They can still be hired for the same but the power of the car means that they’re mostly used for race HQ for events like this.
There were 3 distances-200km starting at 8, 161km starting at 9 and the 100km starting at 10. The appeal for me is that it’s a little less informal than a sportive so it’s all about distance rather than speed so there were all types of riders. There was one older wiry looking guy in a club shirt riding a fixed speed bike whose effortless style had him cruising up hills past the rest of us mere mortals. There were many club riding groups who were out on a day out and I decided to stay with a bunch of them although their speed was slower than what I am accustomed to. I had route instructions but as they had the route programmed onto their computers, I thought that this would be a safe bet until I got into the swing of things.
This proved to be the wrong strategy as they took us 3km past a turn-off! They were less than impressed with my suggestion to take an alternative route to the 1st control point-turns out that I ride this part of the route a lot and know my way around these lanes. Maybe they were a bit suspicious of a guy with a Kiwi accent giving directions in a lane in Essex, UK… After another 5km of following them I decided to drop them with my faster pace and superior local knowledge only to miss the 1st control point and double back. I felt like a real chump on the way back as they passed me but decided to keep my distance when I caught up to them reading my route instructions until the next control point. This is near a USAAF base from WW2 and is still used as a local airfield.
I stopped to have some food in order to keep my distance from the others as I pretty much knew my way back to HQ from there. At 50km I was at HQ and in sheltered sun enjoying my lunch and the company of Bob, a retired 70 something who is a regular cycle tourer in France and Spain and a former club racer.
I joined him for the rest of the 2nd leg. It was good to have company and someone to keep my temptations of going faster at bay, especially as this section was hillier and therefore more challenging. It turns out that Bob won a road race in these parts 45 years ago and it was a pleasure to pick up tips and stories of his experience. We arrived back at HQ, got our brevet cards stamped and debriefed on the ride with promises to meet up on the next ride from there in September.
Given my slower than usual average pace, I feel that I could have done the 100 mile ride as was still feeling strong(ish). I now know that I can do it as long as I ride a slower pace than my 20-30km to work-after all, including my ride to and from HQ, I rode 143k that day. My legs know that they’ve done some riding but could still function more than adequately the following day.
It was a ride of discovery and seems that riding to work throughout the winter has paid dividends. I now have the Audax bug having already eyed up another local ride at the beginning of May. That would depend on family activity as it is a public holiday in the UK and my time with them is already robbed by my involvement in cricket which is an all day sport on Saturdays May-September. What is certain though is that I will still be riding when I am Bob’s age. It’s too much fun to stop now…