Author Topic: The Flatliner 600km Perm  (Read 3872 times)

The Flatliner 600km Perm
« on: 28 August, 2022, 11:40:47 pm »
Ok, so let’s give this ride report lark a bash.

This being my first season of audax, and not having ridden anything longer than about 125km before last November, I still have huge amounts to learn.  It was this lack of knowledge that found me being told after a recent 400km that I now needed a 600km ride for an SR.  A quick check of the calendar showed only a couple of free weekends between now and season’s end but no suitable 600 rides so it either had to be a perm or a DIY and that meant riding it alone.  Knowing that I would need to ride overnight, I went for the sooner rather than later approach to maximise daylight, grabbed a Flatliner Brevet from Tomsk, took the Friday before the August Bank Holiday off from work and made what plans I could in the few days available.

The day dawned to a beautiful cloudless blue sky, forecast temperatures in the low 70s and a gentle breeze from the North East.  Perfect! I grabbed a lift into the start at Dunmow with my wife and spent 5 mins outside her work double checking all my kit before grabbing an ATM receipt at 07:59 and setting off for Yorkshire.  The first leg started on familiar roads out to Clare via Finchingfield before heading on to the first control at Red Lodge.  A quick stop for water and my go to food of a cheese and onion sandwich and back in the saddle aiming for Whittlesey.  Traffic was light for the day before a long weekend and the weather stayed kind and true to forecast all day. Cycling was a real pleasure and progress came easily, if not fast by some standards.  I pulled into Whittlesey for a late lunch, another Nisa or Co-Op stop which was to become a feature of this ride.  More water and one of the best tuna and sweetcorn baguettes I have tasted in ages.

Refuelled, I sent a quick progress report to my wife who doesn’t understand this audax lark and my daughter who is still at her Uni accommodation having found a summer job and who I planned to meet for breakfast early on Day 2 as I would pass within 500m of her digs.  All done, I set off for the third leg over to Boston .  This was the hottest leg with temperatures of mid 70’s and few clouds in the sky.  The route was pleasant, passing Thorney Abbey with preparations for their flower festival in full swing. I spent much of the leg trying to guess at the derivation of some of the village names along the route.  Clearly a lot of Viking influence with lots ending in “by” but how Gosberton or Quadring Eudike got their names eluded me.  I reached Boston at going home time and with it being the start of a long weekend, the market square and the eateries were all very busy so I grabbed an ATM receipt, refilled my water bottles, consulted Google and decided on a pizza when I reached Woodhall Spa.  I sat in the memorial garden to 617 Squadron aka The Dambusters in the centre of Woodhall and at my pizza just as the light began to fade on a great day’s cycling, rang home and contemplated the night ride to come.  Not convinced I would make control 4 at Kirton in Lindsay (275km) before the supermarket there shut, I decided to stock up on enough supplies to last me until the 24 hour services at Goole when I reached Bardney then with an extra layer of clothing added and lights on I set off into the gathering gloom.

I was soon struck by how sparsely populated Lincolnshire can be.  It was an inky black, moonless start to the night and even at 9pm there was little or no traffic on many of the lanes in this section, no street lamps in many of the villages and no soul to be seen out and about except for a lone cyclist wending his way north.  At Bardney yet another Co-Op saw me stock up on a pie and the obligatory Yorkie bar and sweet goodies for the 75 km to Goole.  I lost a bit of sense of time here, just enjoying cycling down quiet country lanes and catching glimpses of local wildlife including owls, bats, a young fox cub that must have been from a very late litter and a badger ambling along with that unique and distinctive gait that badger’s have.  I only just remembered to grab an ATM slip at Kirton in Lindsey at half eleven and donning jacket and gloves against the falling temperatures I set off for Goole.  Somewhere along here there was a gradual change in outlook.  Signposts began to show not just strangely named villages but also bigger industrial centres like Immingham, Leeds, Doncaster and Scunthorpe and light clusters indicated the location of some of these centres of heavy industry in an otherwise dark landscape.  The run in to Goole followed the banks of the Ouse, it’s embankments being high above at some points and the port and starboard navigation lights on the river channel clearly visible.  I stopped only to snap a picture of my bike by the Welcome to the West Riding of Yorkshire sign.

By the time I reached Goole and the delights of Glews Service Station, I was ready for some hot food and a cup of coffee to ward off the dozy feeling so a 2am McDonalds visit it was and a very strange conversation explaining audax and overnight cycling to three port workers on their night shift lunch break. After 30 mins I set off again for Gainsborough, over half distance and heading south.  More pleasant villages, more reminders of the RAF and WW2 airbases that were so common in this part of Lincolnshire in the place names and small memorials. A glow slowly appeared to the east and the sky lightened stage by stage as the new day showed itself.  Grabbing a receipt from the 24 hour garage in Gainsborough, I didn’t linger and headed for Lincoln and my planned breakfast with my daughter.  A few hills on the outskirts of Lincoln provided a decent photo opportunity over the flat lands to the west, if a little spoiled by the cooling towers of Cottam power station.  Reaching Lincoln a little early, I found my daughter had cried off overnight, and my intended early breakfast location was late opening so a quick change of plan saw me grab a coffee and vegan sausage roll from a well known bakery before pushing on.  Pushing is an apt word - the steep hill on the outskirts of Lincoln so soon after food saw me off the bike and walking for the only non-roadworks time on the trip.  Once at the top and back in the saddle I was into new territory with this ride becoming my longest to date and very quickly I started to suffer some stomach issues, which I am putting down to the food eaten up til now not being my usual diet - another audax newbie attempting to trial things on the long ride!  By the time I reached Sleaford, I was in a lot of discomfort and considered jacking it in and taking the train.  An enforced longer stop and nature taking its course saw things improved enough to head for Whittlesey and reassess there.  This tactic of next town and reassess became important as I never felt 100% from here on in but never felt bad enough that I couldn’t face 25km or so to the next target.  I can’t say I enjoyed the run back across the southern Fens, the hot breeze didn’t help and I struggled to consume an ice cream to cool off a bit halfway.  Chatteris saw a very quick top up the bottles and grab a snack in case I felt like eating.  That now just left a 75km leg back to the start on familiar roads and a couple of familiar hills.  Cambridge was successfully navigated without running over a single tourist.  I felt I was crawling, though the GPX log says I hadn’t changed pace all ride, but I wasn’t giving in now with only a few KMs to go.  A final sting in the tail with 15km to go when I took a chance at a road closed sign and ignored the diversion which I knew added a few extra KMs to the route and ended up with a short section of comedy off road to take the pedestrian only by-pass of the bridge repairs and I finished my first 600km ride in just over 36 hours.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes, in a masochistic kind of way.  I definitely enjoyed the challenge and the route was a good one. I could have done without the stomach issues and I have learned a lot of things that next time I would do differently.

Did I just say “Next time…”?

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #1 on: 29 August, 2022, 08:43:31 am »
Nice write up! And well done for getting round :) This ride was my first attempt at a 600km too, but unlike you I was defeated by a combination of too much faffing, not enough food and a headwind on the fens on the run home.

Did you not sleep at all?

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #2 on: 29 August, 2022, 10:20:16 am »
Thanks.  I think I was lucky with the relatively favourable breeze on the homeward run across the Fens.  A headwind of any kind would have been the straw that broke me I suspect.  With regard to sleep, I always plannned to ride right through.  Being so local to the start, the timings worked well for a civilised 8am start on day 1 and an anticipated finish around dusk on day 2 which I thought was doable. I had a flexible backup plan of grabbing a couple of hours nap in an audax hotel if I got too tired but the dozies never struck.

Tomsk

  • Fueled by cake since 1957
    • tomsk.co.uk
Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #3 on: 30 August, 2022, 07:22:36 pm »
Chapeau JellyLegs!  :thumbsup: Your write-up certainly highlights the romance of Audax (if you can call it that), through the night and from familiar lanes into the unknown. I mean otherwise, who would go to Goole?

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #4 on: 30 August, 2022, 08:36:19 pm »
Great write up  :thumbsup:

I’ve failed at the Flatliner twice but planning to ride it again before the end of the season if I can to get my Essex SR. Hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky…

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #5 on: 30 August, 2022, 09:08:11 pm »
Gavin

I am sure you will make it 3rd time lucky.  Hopefully the weather and the wind on the Fens will be as kind to you as it was to me last weekend.

Tomsk

Thanks.  I enjoyed both the challenge of the ride and the scenic route.  The brevet and receipts are in the post to you.

Probably a question for Tomsk, with regard to the Essex SR, what are the rules? I am sure I saw the answer to this somewhere but can’t seem to find the thread now.  Iirc then the usual requirement for a 2, 3, 4 and 6 is a given.  I presume Perms are ok?  And a single DIY is allowed?  But is it starting in Essex?  Or is finishing in Essex ok?  I have several Essex 200km rides to pick one from (Windmill Ride, Alternative Essex and Suffolk Borders calendar events plus Dick Turpin’s Day Out and Boudiccas Revenge perms), a 300km in Hereward the Wake, subject to validation a 600km Flatliner and a point to point 400km DIY that ran from N Devon back home to Leaden Roding.  I was unsure whether that makes a valid claim?

Tomsk

  • Fueled by cake since 1957
    • tomsk.co.uk
Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #6 on: 30 August, 2022, 09:17:24 pm »
The original Essex SR idea was for all Essex starting calendar or permanent events or with a substantial chunk of the route within the county, with just one DIY in the four of the series if necessary. I waived the calendar/perm requirement for the duration of the pandemic, but am keen to return to the original idea.

felstedrider

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #7 on: 30 August, 2022, 09:38:30 pm »
Good write up.

I’ve only done the perm once.  (Actually I attempted it twice in 2020 and flaked on the first go).   I did have a 6am start and booked the new shiny Travelodge in Gainsborough which worked nicely.  As it was mid-week it did leave me with busy roads around Lincoln and I’m not sure I would do that again.

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #8 on: 31 August, 2022, 07:28:10 am »
Well done! Good write up.

Can be a mentally challenging ride at the best of times. More so solo!

What light did you use?

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #9 on: 01 September, 2022, 10:12:32 pm »
My light set up is one of the many things I still need to tweak.  I have a cateye omni 3 on constant at the rear as the 2 AAA batteries last about 60 hours and an unknown cheapo usb rechargeable 3 led light set to flash.   I also tend to wear a Proviz ankle band which I only bother to switch on if I am on a busy or fast section of A road.  This is for extra peace of mind and because the boss indoors likes me to wear it but I will say it does seem to help with cars giving me appropriate amounts of room in most cases.

The front lights are an AA battery powered Cateye of some vintage (no idea what model) which has a decent cut off beam pattern and runs for about 5 hours at full power on a decent set of batteries.  The downside is that even at full power, it is the absolutely absolute minimum lighting that I feel comfortable riding audax style lanes with at night.  It is also getting a bit temperamental when you change batteries.  I supplement this much of the time with an Aldi Bikemate usb rechargeable front light that has a poor beam pattern but does have the advantages of illuminating the road edges and being chargeable on the go from a usb power bank.  I really need to look at getting a better lighting set up now I am riding through the night.  Any suggestions and advice on that will be gratefully received.

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #10 on: 02 September, 2022, 06:54:18 am »
My light set up is one of the many things I still need to tweak.  I have a cateye omni 3 on constant at the rear as the 2 AAA batteries last about 60 hours and an unknown cheapo usb rechargeable 3 led light set to flash.   I also tend to wear a Proviz ankle band which I only bother to switch on if I am on a busy or fast section of A road.  This is for extra peace of mind and because the boss indoors likes me to wear it but I will say it does seem to help with cars giving me appropriate amounts of room in most cases.

The front lights are an AA battery powered Cateye of some vintage (no idea what model) which has a decent cut off beam pattern and runs for about 5 hours at full power on a decent set of batteries.  The downside is that even at full power, it is the absolutely absolute minimum lighting that I feel comfortable riding audax style lanes with at night.  It is also getting a bit temperamental when you change batteries.  I supplement this much of the time with an Aldi Bikemate usb rechargeable front light that has a poor beam pattern but does have the advantages of illuminating the road edges and being chargeable on the go from a usb power bank.  I really need to look at getting a better lighting set up now I am riding through the night.  Any suggestions and advice on that will be gratefully received.
If you want to stay with Battery lights I think some of the B&M ones that are available are probably right up there. For Audaxing, personally I would always go for something that take AA batteries so I can resupply quickly and save the faff of charging.

That said, the best thin I ever did after starting Audax riding was spend the money on a Dynamo Hub and lights. It's an investment initially but it's one of those things that seems to just work and you'll save money (and a bit of the planet) by not having to buy and dispose of batteries. On long rides I do still carry a back up battery light with me just in case, the only time I ever needed that was when someone else's dynamo light had some issues so I handed it over to let them finish their ride.

A late bike change for my route check of 'The Grand' meant I ended up running my Hope Vision 1 lights (battery). I find them perfectly fit for purpose but being battery lights I do find I always try to run them as low as possible to save the batteries....something I hadn't had to think about for a long time.

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #11 on: 02 September, 2022, 01:26:05 pm »
My light set up is one of the many things I still need to tweak.  I have a cateye omni 3 on constant at the rear as the 2 AAA batteries last about 60 hours and an unknown cheapo usb rechargeable 3 led light set to flash.   I also tend to wear a Proviz ankle band which I only bother to switch on if I am on a busy or fast section of A road.  This is for extra peace of mind and because the boss indoors likes me to wear it but I will say it does seem to help with cars giving me appropriate amounts of room in most cases.

The front lights are an AA battery powered Cateye of some vintage (no idea what model) which has a decent cut off beam pattern and runs for about 5 hours at full power on a decent set of batteries.  The downside is that even at full power, it is the absolutely absolute minimum lighting that I feel comfortable riding audax style lanes with at night.  It is also getting a bit temperamental when you change batteries.  I supplement this much of the time with an Aldi Bikemate usb rechargeable front light that has a poor beam pattern but does have the advantages of illuminating the road edges and being chargeable on the go from a usb power bank.  I really need to look at getting a better lighting set up now I am riding through the night.  Any suggestions and advice on that will be gratefully received.
If you want to stay with Battery lights I think some of the B&M ones that are available are probably right up there. For Audaxing, personally I would always go for something that take AA batteries so I can resupply quickly and save the faff of charging.

That said, the best thin I ever did after starting Audax riding was spend the money on a Dynamo Hub and lights. It's an investment initially but it's one of those things that seems to just work and you'll save money (and a bit of the planet) by not having to buy and dispose of batteries. On long rides I do still carry a back up battery light with me just in case, the only time I ever needed that was when someone else's dynamo light had some issues so I handed it over to let them finish their ride.

A late bike change for my route check of 'The Grand' meant I ended up running my Hope Vision 1 lights (battery). I find them perfectly fit for purpose but being battery lights I do find I always try to run them as low as possible to save the batteries....something I hadn't had to think about for a long time.

Thank you.  You are right that a dynamo hub is the way to go in the longer term but as always that brings up other questions.  I may need to think about my whole set first  as I currently ride my audax on one of two bikes, both of which are quite capable but neither of which is my ideal long distance steed.  Also, the last time I used a dynamo was July 1980.  I suspect the technology has moved on a bit from the bottle dynamo on my Rayleigh Chopper.

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #12 on: 02 September, 2022, 02:03:42 pm »
Thank you.  You are right that a dynamo hub is the way to go in the longer term but as always that brings up other questions.  I may need to think about my whole set first  as I currently ride my audax on one of two bikes, both of which are quite capable but neither of which is my ideal long distance steed.  Also, the last time I used a dynamo was July 1980.  I suspect the technology has moved on a bit from the bottle dynamo on my Rayleigh Chopper.
Oh yeah it's defo moved on  ;D

If you stick with Dynamo for the front you can always flip out wheels and while not ideal moving a light across isn't too tragic.

But really, reading into the above, I think you should just buy a new bike  ;)

BFC

  • ACME Wheelwright and Bike Fettler
Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #13 on: 02 September, 2022, 04:52:23 pm »
Thank you.  You are right that a dynamo hub is the way to go in the longer term but as always that brings up other questions.  I may need to think about my whole set first  as I currently ride my audax on one of two bikes, both of which are quite capable but neither of which is my ideal long distance steed.  Also, the last time I used a dynamo was July 1980.  I suspect the technology has moved on a bit from the bottle dynamo on my Rayleigh Chopper.
Oh yeah it's defo moved on  ;D

If you stick with Dynamo for the front you can always flip out wheels and while not ideal moving a light across isn't too tragic.

But really, reading into the above, I think you should just buy a new bike  ;)

Almost all dynamo front wheels have to be built. If building for two different spec bikes or just future proofing there is no problem with building a disk braked through axle hub with a rim brake rim (will also accept a QR adaptor). All the best dyno hubs use modern magnets (neodymium).

As for swapping lights the toy connectors on some models of light (includes my B&M Luxos IQ U) are fragile and not designed to be frequently played with, the connectors on the dyno hubs are a lot more robust and are expected to be mucked about on a regular basis at the roadside.

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #14 on: 02 September, 2022, 06:43:12 pm »
My light set up is one of the many things I still need to tweak.  I have a cateye omni 3 on constant at the rear as the 2 AAA batteries last about 60 hours and an unknown cheapo usb rechargeable 3 led light set to flash.   I also tend to wear a Proviz ankle band which I only bother to switch on if I am on a busy or fast section of A road.  This is for extra peace of mind and because the boss indoors likes me to wear it but I will say it does seem to help with cars giving me appropriate amounts of room in most cases.

The front lights are an AA battery powered Cateye of some vintage (no idea what model) which has a decent cut off beam pattern and runs for about 5 hours at full power on a decent set of batteries.  The downside is that even at full power, it is the absolutely absolute minimum lighting that I feel comfortable riding audax style lanes with at night.  It is also getting a bit temperamental when you change batteries.  I supplement this much of the time with an Aldi Bikemate usb rechargeable front light that has a poor beam pattern but does have the advantages of illuminating the road edges and being chargeable on the go from a usb power bank.  I really need to look at getting a better lighting set up now I am riding through the night.  Any suggestions and advice on that will be gratefully received.

I enjoyed the write up, thank you for doing it!

I use a pricey-but-good Ravemen 2400 front light. It’s big advantage for long rides is that on lower power modes (still brighter than your cateye) it lasts 12-45hrs, but as it has a wireless remote button, i can instantly switch to a “brighter than car headlights” power as necessary on scary bends etc. It can also run off most decent power banks, and a 10Ah power bank roughly doubles the run time.

Tomsk

  • Fueled by cake since 1957
    • tomsk.co.uk
Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #15 on: 02 September, 2022, 08:01:56 pm »
Before I invested in Herr Schmidt's excellent dynohubs, but after moving on from bottle and bottom bracket dynamos (relegated to 'backup'), I had a succession of early battery powered LED lights. The Cateyes rapidy improved in light output, but all were let down by less than perfect waterproofing (one worked fine once I drilled drain holes to let water out again!), very narrow beams (definately a pair of them needed) and flimsy brackets. More than one lamp was ejected onto the road after hitting a minor bump. At least they worked well on standard alkaline AA cells, as the latest offerings from Cateye are all USB rechargeable. From what I've seen, the B&M battery lights also have dodgy brackets.

The Hope Vision 1 was a good robust light -- mine are still going strong after 15+ years (one has an unreliable switch which takes patience to get to turn off) and just need high power NiMHs or Lithium AA cells which are good for a whole PBP night on level 2. Still rather a narrow beam, so run as a pair, one on level 1, other on 2. Good attachment bracket too, but the model is discontinued, of course.

Rechargeable stuff is so much better now and with power banks you can be much more self-sufficient.

But I say: "Get a dynohub!"

Re: The Flatliner 600km Perm
« Reply #16 on: 03 September, 2022, 09:47:34 am »
Lovely write up.

I have dynohubs on audax bike and commuter. I agree that for the commuter they are brilliant. Front and rear light. No battery worries, just works.

For the audax bike I am moving back to non-dynohub lights with a new exposure strada on order to replace a 10year old one.
Again a remote switch, absolute blinding light for descending but be seen light for the rest of the time.
I find the dyno light just a bit poor for fast descents in pitch black and have been using two lights. At this point it seems silly to waste leg power unnecessarily.
This could be because my eyes are getting older.