Prologue: This is my first year of Audaxing after becoming bored of the same old rides. One of my targets this year is to complete the Brevet 500 and this is fourth of the five 100km rides. I ride at night as it fits in with the family and work commitments. Because I am home before 11am I have the rest of the day with the family. The Wahoo Bolt is excellent at navigating at night as it flashes to tell me to turn but I do carry a paper copy of the route on the assumption that something will go wrong! The benefit of cycling overnight is that the roads are quieter and you see more wildlife but you do lose out on the vistas which you would see during the daylight hours. I toyed with purchasing dynamo and light set but realized that a recharge light can last me all weekend. I use 2x Cateye Volt 400 XC front lights (total cost £39.98), using one light as a 100 lumens running light and the second as a main beam (400 lumens) when I am going downhill. My plan for the future is to find Audax routes in different parts of the country which I have not visited. The best outcome of riding these 100km AAA rides is that it built my endurance capacity which has inspired me to undertake 200km AAA rides. I am considering targeting the Super Randonneur AAA next year.
Start: Another very early start (2:30am), which I love as I can complete most of the ride before the roads become busy and the heat of the day starts to kick in. I started near Tittesworth reservoir, parking in the layby on the A53 Leek to Buxton by the Three Horseshoes Inn. However, the downside of this approach is that I start on a climb. This morning it was the Thorncliffe climb to the Mermaid Pub (now letting accommodation). The climb was not as harsh as I thought it was going to be because there are two very steep sections which are connected by shallow ramps. I did take some photos but they did not come out very well (using an action cam).
Wow, what an excellent night already… I saw two maybe three stags on the road to Warslow- in all my time in the Peak District I have never seen a deer except for the road signs. The climb out of Longnor is long but gradual and leads to the Flash Inn on the A53. The Longnor climb finally finished just after the shortcut over to the Cat and Fiddle Inn. The sun had started to cast its initial rays across the moors illuminating the mist in the valley, it felt like I was on an island surrounded by a sea of mist. I did take some photos but they were blurry due to the low light.
The descent into Buxton was fast (38mph) and if the traffic lights are on green the momentum will carry you into the town centre and coffee. Unfortunately, everything was closed at 04:40am on Sunday morning. I did not realise but the petrol station on the way into Buxton is a 24hr, so if you are doing this route overnight from Marple, this is a good food and water stop.
The climb out of Buxton was much easier compared to when I last did it in March during the Monyash Peak Audax (100km) and due to the time, only three cars overtook me. I had to stop on the descent down into the Goyt valley to take more photos of the mist and sunrise, this time there was enough light for the camera to work reasonably well.
The climb out of the Goyt valley was also much easier this time around, the extra two teeth on the cassette top cog made a massive difference (from 28 to 30). I was able to maintain a reasonable cadence without feeling like I was grinding my way up.
Climbing out of Kettlehume (Higher Lane) to Marple I came across a herd of deer crossing the road but this time I managed to get a photo of the deer.
Arriving at Marple, Costa coffee was not open, which was not part of my plan… I am not sure why I was moving so quickly, it could be that I am riding an old aluminum 8-speed bike (11-30 cassette) or it could be that my main bike has an 11-28 cassette. ….. anyway I texted the wife and just pushed on.
Having ridden a few of these Peak Audax’s 100km rides, I now recognise a lot of the roads so I know when all the hills are coming. This actually helps as you can take on energy during the downhill and flatter sections. However, I had not cycled this way up through Macclesfield Forest (Macclesfield to Danebridge) and I know why Strava told me that the last section of the climb is 28.5%!
The section along Wildboarclough valley is excellent, although no bird of prey this time. The final section back to Tittesworth reservoir was quicker than I although even enough it included Gunn Hill from Danebridge. Tittesworth reservoir was the last landmark of my ride and I nearly missed it, as it had very little water in it!
What next: Goyt Peak (Audax, 100km, 3AAA)
Organisor: Chris Keeling-Roberts
Audax List: Audax Ride List