Sunday, 19 July 2015

Raglan Castle 200km Audax 2015

I seriously considered doing some posts on my top ten films, or my top ten books. Mrs Mendip Rouleur recently asked me if it was possible for me to ever make money from my blog. "Only if I start writing about fashion or other rubbish people want to buy". Which opened up the intriguing possibility of my top ten favourite items of clothing.

Much as I love the obscurity I think that would have even me falling asleep. So for a change I thought I'd go back to cycling.

I have more or less given up on achieving Super Randonneur for the 2014-15 Audax season. I have learned a lot about what I am capable of, and what the key ingredients are to make endurance riding fun and enjoyable. I know I can do the long distances, but I can't do them on my own, I don't have that special ingredient in my head to ride for consecutive days with no company.

I almost enjoyed the aborted 600km, and to ride 585km as I did, with time to spare, shows that I can do it at a physical level. But the route and other circumstances are going to have to work if I'm going to have a crack at it next year. I can do 200km and 300km on my own, and may just be able to do 400km without company.

The usual things like sleep beforehand, good nutrition are also critical (not a surprise is it?) but the main thing is going to be company. I'm still committed to finishing my Randonneur round the Year, and after yesterday I  have just two months to go. If I'm to do SR next year, it will need to be more carefully thought out.

Which brings me nicely on to yesterday. And this week. I had thought I might ride for six consecutive days, four commutes and to chunky rides at the weekend. In the end the rest of life got in the way, as I had just too much on in and out of work during the week, so just did three commutes. A couple of them were in really foul weather too.

I also have not seen Mrs and Junior MR for a week as they've been visiting relatives in Ireland, so am taking today off to "engage" with them. Although they are both currently asleep. Which is odd seeing as I am the one who rode 210km yesterday! I also have a full-on working week coming up, so I thought I better get some rest today. And as the event was one I'd done a few times before, on local roads, well the idea lost appeal really.

Yesterday was the Raglan Castle Audax, organised by a member of Bath cycling club. Who do have one of the classic club kits in my view. Maybe an idea for a "top ten"! The event started in Bath city centre, before climbing into the Cotswolds, looping down over the Severn Bridge to Chepstow, up to Raglan Castle and then back via the Bridge and villages north of Bristol.

It turned out to be a bit lumpier than I thought, which is actually a good thing given my current focus on getting ready for the Pyrenees, and it was great to ride for a bit with some of  Audax Club Bristol. As with any Audax the vibe was fantastic, relaxed, friendly. It's definitely the way to do events, even the few good sportives are slowly losing what it is supposed to be all about - enjoyment.

True, there wasn't much enjoyment on the testing climb between Usk and Chepstow. I had thought it would be a repeat of the one on the Brevet Cymru, but they managed to find a way up that ridge with prolonged periods of 16%. Ouch. But once up at the top at least I could enjoy the view over to Somerset this time, I swear you can see my house in the picture.

And it's always good to have a castle on a ride, just a shame the café can't cope with serving more than about 5 people at a time.

I have entered this Audax in the heart of mid-Wales for the first Saturday in August, and it looks quite formidable in terms of hills and terrain. Anyone else fancy it? I'm staying in Kington the night before so let me know and I'll send you the details! If the company, weather and views are as good as yesterday, that will help with the motivation, if not the gradients!

Great castle & sky!

Raglan castle in all its glory

Look carefully & you can see my house

The bridge awaits

A friendly fellow rider - what it's all about

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