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Wednesday 10 January 2018, Filed in: Shop News

#team18 ride Emma's started the year well - kicking things off with a 100km Audax ride that started just round the corner from the shop. Here's her writeup!

I’ve been meaning to start riding Audaxes for the past few years. I like the idea of long rides with a purpose as you collect rides in various distance combinations to earn awards. Enjoyable in themselves and a good (and affordable) way to train towards other goals. In my case, the Dirty Reiver amongst others. I finally got around to joining Audax UK at the end of 2017 and Hopey New Year was my first Audax.

The view from the extra climb

I set off the 106km route from Bradwell with the group from Sheffrec after bumping into some friends at the event HQ. I stuck with them until just after Calver where their pace proved a little too much and I sat up to save my legs for the hills to come.

Audaxes are navigated using a route card, which contains brief instructions of what to do at significant junctions. I had been sent this a few weeks before and had started to plot the route onto a gpx file to follow on the day, but I knew I’d made a mistake as the route I plotted was too long. So, when I realised that there was a gpx route on the entry page of the website I downloaded that to use. The reason that this is relevant is that the gpx instructed me to ride through Stanton in Peak. If you’ve been to Stanton in Peak you’ll know that the village lines a steep climb. Quite a long steep climb. It was predictably uncomfortable but the view at the top made up for that. As I descended from there back to the road that I’d turned off to start the climb I saw two other riders who had just come up the easier route. They stayed visible ahead and seemed to be following the same route as me. I began to wonder whether the climb through Stanton had been a diversion. It had crossed my mind at the time, but I’d been reassured by other riders who I’d also seen at the start being on the same climb. I later discovered that it was indeed a diversion and I’d gained myself some bonus elevation.

Once I was back on course the route travelled south to Ashbourne and the first control. I stamped my brevet card, which provides proof of having completed the route, and decided to continue on without a break. From Ashbourne, we followed A roads towards Leek for around 15km. There were a couple of long climbs on this stretch although they were not to bad as I was assisted in some part by a cross-tailwind. Though this was soon to become a ferocious headwind when the route turned to head back north towards Bradwell.

Shortly before the turn was the second control, which this time was an information control where we were to answer a question about a cafe we were passing. I made a mental note of the answer and continued the short distance to the next junction. This was the northbound turn and the headwind was so strong that it made descending difficult as, at speed, the bike was blown around unpredictably. Working against this wind on the climbs, flats and descents was, unsurprisingly, tiring so at 82km I stopped for a short break in Longnor. I had been in two minds about whether to do this and thought that maybe I should just continue on and get out of the wind, but I was running low on snacks so I stopped for a coffee and a slice of Bara Brith.

This was definitely the right choice, I shared a table with a seasoned Audaxer who I’d ridden with briefly earlier on the route and left the coffee shop feeling revived. As I climbed away from Longnor and towards Chelmorton the sun came out and lit up the limestone peaks and edges beautifully. Alas, they were behind me and the headwind necessitated keeping my head down and ploughing onwards. I was in familiar territory now and the final 24km passed fairly easily with a thrilling descent to Millers Dale and the gentle climb through Tideswell. The final descent back to Bradwell was far cry from seven days earlier when I had flown down it scoring numerous PR’s whilst assisted by a strong tailwind.

When I finally made it back, the HQ was incredibly welcoming. I handed in my completed brevet card and was given a delicious cup of vegetable soup and a bread roll by volunteers manning the kitchen. This was followed by cake and coffee as I sat and compared notes with other finishers before heading off to catch up with Matt and Matt at 18 Bikes.

I’m sometimes put off riding events in areas that I know well, but I’m glad I did. Although most of the roads were familiar to some extent there were sections I had never ridden and everything was linked together in a novel way, which made for an enjoyable day out despite the wind. I’ve just entered my next Audax – a 200km outing in February, which I’m definitely looking forward to now.


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