Sunday, 9 October 2011

Season of Mists Audax - 2nd October

Cycle to Audax - Av Sp 18.1mph   Distance 24.0miles  Asc 1560ft   Hr 135 Cad 80

Audax               - Av Sp 15.8mph   Distance 64.0miles  Asc 7650ft   Hr 138 Cad 78

Cycle to Home  - Av Sp 18.0mph   Distance 14.0miles   Asc 600ft    Hr 132 Cad 82 

The five days before this event the UK saw the best weather of the whole year albeit very little windy so confidently I pre-purchased my entry for the princely sum of £4.50 a whole week in advance even though I could have entered on the line.

Start line was the Salem community centre in Hebden Bridge and I had a brand new Garmin 800 to get me there and navigate me around the course just in case I went solo as I usually do. I met a couple of members of Rochdale Tri club in Whitworth and proceeded to the start point via Bacup and Tod Rd.  There's enough climbing in the audax without anymore! From the off it was overcast and raining which gradually got worse and worse. My choice of bike was becoming an extremely bad decision.  Scottie with 60mm carbon rims, even with yellow swiss-stop pads the stopping power is far from ideal for the conditions presented to me.

I virtually drafted the tri club duo all the way to Hebden as I wasn't feeling great at all and was struggling big time. I tried to take it easy on my commutes all week but just couldn't.  On arrival there were already loads of cyclists already there all expecting glorious weather however we were in for a shock. For a change I decided to drink absolutely loads as I would be doing close to 100miles and my 1litre bottle needed filling up again.

We set off last as we waited for another member of the triclub which suited me as there was overtakes galore to be had.  The first 5miles was an uphill slog to Burnley via Heptonstall which included a section of pave and in the damp made the effort quite difficult. I really buried myself for those 5miles to get past everyone and get up to the leaders who set off a good 5 minutes before me. Unbelievably I hit the front group after about half an hour and sat in for a long long time! The group was being led by a racing team CS cycles from Brighouse, a guy in sky uniform with a powertap and a young kid from VC Bradford/Penine cycles. We got a little lost in the back streets of Burnley but found our way back on track in no time. I found myself in the lead as the others must have been saving themselves for the climb at Sabden which I never knew was coming up and I went off the front.

I thought I was alone but was soon joined by the Penine cycles kid. We built up a good lead but lost a lot at the bottom of the Nick O' Pendle climb as the road was closed and we walked on the pavement as there was a pedestrian in the way. He zoomed off whilst I struggled. I couldn't get any power down whilst seated which is quite unusual for myself when climbing and has to limit my losses standing up. Infact I was doing quite a good job in the end and my cadence was nice and high. Totally the opposite seated though.

At Clitheroe I was following the sat nav's directions and even though I was following the correct route I got a 'beep' saying I was off course. Turned around and the Brighouse group rejoined us as we had messed up for a while. Next climb was Waddington Fell and I was struggling again sitting down. Just no power. I had to close any gaps by standing up but there was always the thought of 'how long will my legs last' if I kept it up.
There was an Irish guy in the group who looked 'uneasy' in the group. Always changing speed and being a nuisance. A club mate of his clipped his wheel, stayed up miraculously,  and the Irish guy blamed his m8 of 'half wheeling'. Technically he was correct but the one in front I thought was to blame due to his inconsistant pacing. He'd be a menace on the track. I found myself behind this guy on the Newton climb and noticed even more his erratic style. I should have dropped back and left his wheel totally. Someone shouted at the back that he had punctured and this tosser looked back and broke hard. Cue me hitting his wheel and skidding to a halt on the tar mac.  The guys behind me only missed me because I skidded forward at some speed. I shouted my discontent , some smart arse shouted back that I was going too fast. I might not be the most experienced group cyclist but you do not slow down heavily suddenly at the front of a peloton! In fact the tit did the same at a cattle grid and stopped causing another pile up as he walked across although no-one was felled this time. Luckily I was alot further back. Anyway I was bleeding from my right knee but injuries were minor and the bike seemed fine. The guy who punctured, myself and Penine Cycles bloke chased the Brighouse lot and overtook as they stopped in Slaidburn for coffee.

Thats when I stopped Garmin and forgot to restart as we tried to find out what was going on and to see who would carry on without stopping. Onward and upward, the three of us were pretty evenly matched although the PC guy deffo had the edge. The tall lanky fella that joined us had the most amazing leg speed . There were some really dangerous descents with tight bends and I came a cropper twice as my wheels locked whilst braking going in a straight line! as I tried to reduce speed before taking the bend. How I stayed upright I will never know and I wished the guy behind had a camera as it must have been something to watch.

Not far after Coldwell Activity Centre (control) was a massive climb, steepness wise. I saw guys who were on the shorter route walking it. The end was close and was looking forward to tHe food laid on. Rice pud, pizza, fruit, sarnies and a massive choice of cake downed with filter coffee made the thought of riding home into a big headwind more bearable. No cramp this time, loads drunk and a massive amount of climbing  just under 10,000ft in 100miles. Low heart rate and cadence suggest I was f^&5ed before I started.

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