How to follow me – Updated

Revised for late 2019:

You can “follow me” on an organised event in two ways:

If I know in advance you want to follow me (and I set it up correctly) you should receive an email from me/Wahoo when I actually start with a link – click on the link and you’ll see where I am and also the route I should be following.

Or

Go to Events Calendar at the bottom of this page, click on the current event and you’ll see a map of my route with markers showing where I am – the markers should appear every 5 minutes or so (a mile and a bit). If you visit some time after the event has actually started, you might not see the event – in this case just click on “View All Events” and look for the date.

Richard Ellis Memorial, 100km Audax Ride, Saturday 5 October 2019

A really enjoyable ride, starting in the small town of Great Dunmow, Essex – where I got quite lost both in the car and on the bike trying to find the start! There was a choice of two car parks and I chose the one further from the start as I thought I had time to spare. Well, I did until I turned the wrong way out of the car park, but eventually got to the start a few minutes after everyone had started. No matter, it meant I could take my time getting ready before eventually heading out. Pleasant roads through some charming villages – really enjoyed it.

The ride is in memory of a popular Audax rider who was killed on an event by a driver who has since been convicted and imprisoned.

Very quiet roads for the most part, heading to a real cyclist café in a tiny village – no idea if all the cyclists there were part of the ride or just out cycling, but it was heaving! Opted for quick food rather than wait for hot food but it was really good and I was soon on my way again, greeting numerous cyclists on their way to the café.

A few roads vaguely familiar but most not. Thinking how much I enjoyed 100km rides – not the challenge of a 100 mile event (another 2 and a bit hours), but thoroughly enjoyable. Of course, the weather was fine – the next day was terrible so was really glad to be riding on the Saturday! First ride with Wahoo – all fine (though I hadn’t set up tracking properly!)

About 10km from the finish, I began thinking of the pizza I knew was waiting for us at the Arrivée, but was trying to work out what I’d drink with it (not a tea drinker nor a fan of instant coffee). Being greeted by the smell of pizza and the sight of a cafétiere really made my day!

No real idea how many riders on this ride because I started late, overtook a few and made up for lost time with a relatively quick café stop. Overtaking slower riders means plenty of little conversations but everyone rides at their own pace so I soon moved on. This was probably the most enjoyable organised ride I’ve done; others have been more challenging and therefore enjoyed the accomplishment, but this was pure fun, even the hills didn’t deter me, though some needed quite a bit of effort.

 

 

Audax, South Norfolk Loop, 100km, Saturday 21 September 2019

My first experience of Audax riding. These events are quite different from the Sportives I have been riding to date. Audax is basically long distance riding – 100 km is at the short end – there doesn’t seem to be a limit! While I have no aspirations to ride hundreds of kilometres in a single ride, they do make a refreshing change from sportives:

  • DIY navigation from a detailed route plan – no sign posted roads so I’m dependant on my bike computer to get me around correctly
  • DIY food – generally carry your own/stop at cafes (I mostly prefer my own anyway)
  • There are control points to make sure you’re actually riding the route
  • Smaller numbers of riders (some of the bigger sportives have several thousand riders, RideLondon >20,000). Today’s ride had a total of 60ish riders over two distances! No congestion on the roads, no bunching up.
  • The language of cycling is French (though the word Audax comes from Latin), hence the distances in km and many terms are in French.

I spent a lot of the ride on my own, at my own speed which seemed to be a bit faster than many. In sportives, I have to moderate my speed and stop myself trying to catch and overtake slower looking riders in front of me (I now find that can simply use too much energy and put me at great risk of cramp) but today I simply rode at my own pace without any little sprints. A cafe stop with most of the other riders at one of my favourite cafés and a brief stop at a café in my home town.

I was able to ride to the start from home – and therefore back again, adding 40km to the overall distance which effectively took the total to nearly the 100 mile mark. A slow puncture meant frequent stops to top up the air on the ride home – it didn’t seem worth trying to fully resolve it on the road.

It was a beautiful day – slightly crisp and cool to start with but the sun was there throughout. Definitely the start of autumn! Many quiet roads, a very few short sections of bigger roads. Some roads I already knew, but there were also many new ones. Unfortunately there aren’t many Audax events near me so I doubt will be riding many – though I will be looking out for them.

 

 

 

 

Tour de Broads, Summer, Sunday 18th August 2019

A really good day. The weather was quite good, a very brief shower around midday, some wind (inevitably) as we headed south but never too hot or cold. I’d have liked to have gone faster but I finished without any cramp and with enough energy to ride home so can’t really complain.

I was able to ride to the start (Whitlingham Broad) from home, then we set off through a little bit of Norwich and up towards Wroxham then to the coast. We then headed south through Great Yarmouth (not as picturesque as the villages) and then headed back to Norwich and the finish.

Some very pleasant riding along both familiar and unfamiliar roads, a few small Norfolk hills, well behaved traffic, not sure I could have asked for anything more!

This is the only photo I could find with me in it, at the start – look carefully, on the very left of the photo there’s a chap with an orange jersey and I’m just to the right of him (the only way I can be quickly sure is the red cuff of my jersey sleeve with “2017” (Ride London – still my favourite jersey for organised events).

Great British Cycling Festival, Norwich, 100 mile Challenge, 30 June 2019

This was an event I wanted to ride as soon as I heard about it: 100 miles, starting within riding distance of home, following the wheel tracks of Britain’s best riders, and heading up the North Norfolk coast.

Weather was great, hot but not too hot, a breeze (which proved challenging in places, rarely did we feel the wind behind us). Started getting ready in Chapelfield Gardens in Norwich, but riding/walking to the proper start outside  City Hall, though it was about a mile later that we got going properly.

Pleasant riding which was disturbed by a selfish cyclist cutting in unnecessarily after overtaking a small group of us – he caused the first rider to crash and that then took out the next two riders, one of which was me. So three riders on the ground, only one injured and that fairly minor but needing attention. Motorbike marshal quickly on the scene administered first aid and we were all able to carry on riding, with the injured guy receiving more treatment at the food stop a few miles later. 

I stopped a bit later to help someone who had punctured and was having difficulty. We then rode together until she stopped for food while I carried on in a vain attempt to try to make up some lost time.

There were probably around a dozen of us riding at similar speeds and we kept on passing/being passed by each other but I rode many of the remaining miles with Liz, sometimes chatting, sometimes one behind the other, but the company certainly made the miles pass by more easily. I think that helped me moderate my speeds which kept cramp away!

Pleasant and relaxed food stops with catch up times and chats. I was now in no hurry as I had no idea how long or fast I had been riding.

A terrible time of just under 8 hours, but my Garmin failed completely so I don’t have my own record of the ride, perhaps just as well! Gentle ride back home along some quiet roads. 

 

Tour of Cambridgeshire, 100 miles, Sunday 2 June 2019

This ride was an antidote to last year’s Tour de Yorkshire where I found the hills often reduced me to walking up them. Cambridgeshire is pretty flat – but can get very windy instead!

There were to be 12,000 other riders on this event which started from the East of England Showground in Peterborough, alongside a number of races and other events over the weekend. I wondered how they would manage to get all 12,000 riders away in a good time – I don’t think I need have worried too much but I made sure I was near the start from about an hour and a half before we were actually due to start. In order to reduce the impact of heavy traffic parking charges were free until 7am then went up to £20 for those arriving after 9. I went for the free option though this meant getting up at 4 am but also gave me the luxury of parking very near the start and all the facilities. I really didn’t want to be stuck waiting for an hour to start riding – and then not finish until well into the evening.

The ride itself started with all the riders needing to walk or scoot or ride very slowly for half a mile or so when we were finally able to start riding properly. This was a completely closed road event, sometimes on quite narrow lanes but often went through small villages where people were cheering us on – real encouragement, especially as these folk were effectively “marooned” – unable to get out in their cars, but they seemed ready to enjoy the day instead.

No hills to speak of but some long stretches of straight and level roads through the fens, occasionally into the teeth of the wind. One surprise was coming to the former RAF base of Alconbury where we had a pit stop amidst hundreds or even thousands of brand new Audi and Skoda cars, probably also VW and Mercedes, some with late 2018 number plates, others with 2019 or unregistered. The base must have been huge in its day with miles and miles of concrete runways and taxiways.

I suffered with mechanical problems as my gears had developed an intermittent fault – I was really annoyed to think that I had accidentally cut through part of an electrical cable, but subsequently (back home) found it to have been a loose connection underneath handlebar tape. For quite a few miles I was stuck in a single gear – not so bad when it was a middle gear, but bad news when it was a low gear. With about 25 miles to go, it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to go faster then 12 mph without spinning my legs frantically – but fortunately something seemed to reconnect in time for the last 15-20 miles.

A little sprinkle of rain quite welcome as I arrived at the finish. A good day, though I wasn’t best pleased with my 7 hours plus time, the mechanical problems did have quite an impact with frequent stops to try to resolve the issue.

 

 

 

Tour de Broads – Spring – 2019, 100 miles

A really good ride! Weather ok – not much sun, a very few tiny sprinkles of rain, cool breeze though – headwind much of the way out and twisting, turning roads rarely felt there was much of a tailwind on the return into Great Yarmouth. Spurred on by the thought of chips and ice cream waiting at the finish!

Started on the sea front, briefly headed south simply so we could ride across the road then back up the other side. That threw my Garmin (and I suspect quite a few others too) as it detected I’d passed the finish, declared “Course complete” and stopped the navigation. Didn’t matter much though as for most of the way I was in a bunch with a number of other riders so just followed. Deliberately stayed with a pace that was a little bit slow for my liking but my strategy for the day was simply to ride, with no target speeds or times, and aim to finish well – and, most importantly, without cramp or even the hint of cramp. For me, cramp in the big thigh muscles is both agonizing and frightening and I can’t stop myself screaming if/when it hits. I seem to suffer from cramp much more on sportives than on other rides and have slowly come to the conclusion that trying too hard is a major cause. Sometimes it’s the challenge of a hill, sometimes it’s a rider or riders in front that I could catch, sometimes just a little sprint to get away from or across a road junction.

As well as not pushing myself too hard, I am now also finding it much better to sit down occasionally for 5-10 minutes and relax; not just standing by the bike and munching away or drinking, but actually sitting down. So when I saw this ride passed within quarter of a mile of my son’s house, it was an opportunity for a cup of proper coffee and a seat. Delighted to see that Matt and daughter Milly came out on their bikes to escort me to the house and then Matt and I rode together for a bit afterwards. The roads meandered all over the Broads area, some quite small lanes, plenty of quiet roads, only a very few with any real traffic. A few little hills, but nothing of note. Riding in company some of the time, solo for much – but that’s fine by me.

Decent lunch stop in Coltishall village hall at the half way point (again with a seat), that literally fuelled me up for the remaining 50 miles. The usual delights of Broads scenery – boats on water, interesting villages, pleasant countryside. Some of the route on familiar roads I’ve driven on helped with understanding whereabouts I was (we did meander!). Finally back onto the roads I’d driven on to the start – and then along the promenade cycle paths to the finish – still with something in the tank and not completely exhausted. Was only going to go for the ice cream (too cold a day really), but the chips were too tempting!

The day organised by Pedal Revolution who do really well. A pleasure to see some quite small children riding with parents, either doing the 25 mile or a shorter family ride. The whole day much more just riding-focused rather than time or speed focused. I was repeatedly passed by the same group of club riders – clearly they stopped much more often than I; they might have ridden much faster but we probably took about the same time to complete – mine was 6:38 riding time, but 7:14 overall.

Southwold Roubaix, 13th April 2019

The “Roubaix” part of the title is a tribute to the professional Paris-Roubaix cycle race that took place the day after this event. It’s raced over cobbles, what appear to be little better than farm tracks and some tarmac; it’s brutal and takes its toll on the riders in the form of accidents, broken bikes and sheer exhaustion. Fortunately only a little of the latter in my case!

Ostensibly a 75 mile ride but has 4 off-road sections – 1 compulsory (and easy) and 3 optional: I only rode one of the optional ones – several miles along a road which gradually petered out into a sandy and bumpy track. I was glad I had ridden it but also glad when I got to the end of it: not really my scene, especially on a road bike and I knew the other sections were very muddy and much more challenging. Had I completed all 4 sections it would have taken 7 miles off the total distance – however, I managed to miss a turning and added about another 10 miles in error instead. My Garmin bike computer had shut down when I stopped for lunch and wouldn’t get going properly again until I finally realised I hadn’t seen any other riders and must have gone off course and switched it off and back on again.

Well it was a day with all the weathers you could expect in one day – bright (but cold) sunshine, wind, hail, sleet, snow – settling briefly on my arms. I was intentionally taking things easy to try to avoid cramp, but with a poorly functioning Garmin I had no real idea of my speed, how far I’d already ridden and how far still to go.

But it was a good ride – I’d been thinking how much I was really enjoying it shortly before the sun disappeared and the hail etc took its place! One highlight of the day, however, was the sight of a very tall cyclist apparently holding up traffic approaching Framlingham: he was riding a Penny-farthing! The town was very busy and a bit hilly on the way in but this chap took it all in his stride – even having to dismount and re-mount very gracefully in the town centre.

Another highlight was the mobile café at the end – decent food and drinks and all the chairs had the names of top cyclists on them. I had to sit on the chair with “Merckx” – hero of my youth, though I could also have sat on the one with “Thomas” (someone else sitting on Froome’s).

Sigma Suffolk Spring Classic , 30th March 2019

Very much a ride in two parts: Very nice, sunny day, though cool to start with. Rode in company for the best part of the first 20 miles then we got separated in traffic and he stopped at a food station. Really enjoying the ride, knew it can be tough so was taking it easily – this is the fourth time I’ve ridden this one, there are lots of little hills which add up by the end.

Then came the second part – after 50 miles, cramp hit, both thighs in agony, stretching didn’t help but eventually it eased a little and I rode on very, very gingerly. Stopped to take off leg and arm warmers and somehow that seemed to help; cramp went away but never far enough! Kept going, still gingerly, maintaining a steady but gentle pace. Hopes of a good time well and truly dashed. Thought I’d got the fluids right, but eventually came to the conclusion that I simply hadn’t put enough miles in. There is a saying (can’t remember who said it) “you always go faster with a number on your back” (or in the case of a cycle sportive on your bike/front!). I mostly do get cramp on sportives rather than simply when out riding but this time I was consciously saving myself to be sure I finished well. Probably just too much too soon, and probably did just try that little bit too hard on some off the hills. A strong feeling that I really didn’t want anything sweet to eat was also a give away: when translated meant I really wanted something salty = simply too little salt. A similar length ride a few days later, no number on the bike, no target time set, leisurely stop for lunch = no cramp!

First time in 4 years I’ve ridden this in shorts and short sleeves, though I did start with arm and leg warmers (which were removed more because they were slipping than I was too hot).