Getting sorted: it was very quick and easy to locate brevet card etc… however, paying for parking created the most issues. It was unclear from the machine how much money to put on the ticket and when you added the additional money beyond Midnight it did not register. However, I later discovered that when the ticket was printed the value of money entered into the machines was printed on the ticket, not the screen.
The start: The start was a quick briefing, I actually made this one, and the group was off. I took my usual approach and wait for most riders to leave so I do not feel the need to keep up. However, I quickly caught them up due to traffic lights and traffic. The decent out of town was very quick and there is right turn immediately at the bottom of the decent, so you need to be ready to slow down.
I set a steady pace and settled into a rhythm. Over the next 80 miles, I would consistently over and be overtaken by the same riders (with an average of about 15mph). I spent the first 108 miles stressing that I would be too slow to make the control at Helmsley, I was very concerned that all the shops which I could buy water from would be closed. The petrol station closed at 10pm. As it was I arrived at Helmsley at 830pm. However, the downside of this was that I had worked a little harder than I normally do, this fatigue had a knock-on effect on the rest of the ride.
For the most part the roads to Helmsley where flat and offered little climbing so much so that I had gain 1.5hrs hours in hand. The hills through the Howardian Hills were not as hard as I was expecting considering my last visit here. In fact, I would say that the hills after the Eastfield control were much more challenging. There are lots of food places to stop if you arrive early and I saw many cyclists scattered along Helmsley high street. I opted for the petrol station on the way out of town, as I wanted to hang onto my time-in-hand. In hindsight, this did not help me as I would have been better off taking a longer rest.
The road to Eastfield was uninteresting but offered good continuous road surfaces, which reminded me of home. I had a few groups overtake me along this section who had stopped in Helmsley. A hello and a quick chat as they went past was nice, one group showed concern about my readiness for the chilly night as I still only had my bib shorts and a summer top on and the sun had all but gone down. I explained that I had my winter kit in the saddle bag and I would be stopping later to put it on, it was still a little warm for me. Arriving at the Eastfield control I saw the same people as I have been seen all day which was positive as it meant I was still maintaining a comparable time. I had a quick scan around McDonald’s and there she was (YouTube: Katie Kookaburra) talking into her camera, it was not until later that I realised I had watched a few of her YouTube Audax video blogs. Checking for Kate talking into her camera became a little tick box every time I arrived at a control.
People often say that they struggle or don’t like cycling through the night, but I actually enjoy an overnight cycle. The stage to the Willerby control (24hr petrol station outside Hull) can be characterised by three long climbs the first of which was 17%. I will admit that I made it about 70% up the first hill (17%). However, I did cycle the rest and in some ways, with it been dark it made it easier because you cannot see the hill stretching out in front of you like you would in the daytime. By the time I reach Willerby services (McDonald’s closes at 10pm) I was feeling the first 108miles in my legs and Kate was there on her camera.
After some food and a drink, I decided on a quick nap, which worked well as there were another two riders who were having a quick nap too. I asked them to wake me if I was asleep when they leave but I knew I would be gone long before they would. I had about 20minutes and pushed on to the final control at Gainsborough.
It was still dark when I crossed over the Humber bridge which is a few miles from the Willerby service station. However, by the time I climbed out of Hull, the sun had risen and I had to stop and change back into my short sleeve top. I’ll be honest, I do not remember much about this leg as it was not very interesting. Although I do remember having a conversation with a local lady who was cycling to the local village for a newspaper on a beaten up old mountain bike. Interestingly, she asked me if I was doing the LEL ride. I explained that the LEL takes places every five years and that I was doing a 400km circular route back to Derby. Arriving at the Gainsborough service station I did my little check for Kate and her camera, but I had missed it. The group which she was riding with were getting ready to leave. Again, they offered to wait for me so that I could join them, but I explained that I like to cycle alone and that they were to fast than me. We wished each other well and parted.
I was expecting a hard push to the finish line and to be honest, the first 20-30miles after the Gainsborough petrol stations were not difficult. However, the last 10miles nearly broke me. I had another two hill walks the first up through a small town and the second the final hill which takes you to Alferton. When I arrived at the car I saw Kate talking into her camera lying next to her car, which was strangely comforting.
I quickly loaded my bike and check the direction to the McDonalds (signing off point) as I knew that I could jump on to the A38 from there. So I drove to McDonald’s rather than cycling there and back. Arriving at McDonald’s and getting my Brevet card signed off was a great feeling. My longest ride, my first Audax year and another step closer to my season target.
Organisor: Steve Ogden
Audax Link: http://www.aukweb.net/events/detail/15-657/