Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => Audax => Topic started by: Bianchi Boy on January 27, 2018, 05:48:55 pm

Title: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Bianchi Boy on January 27, 2018, 05:48:55 pm
I have been sorting my calendar out and the weekend of the 9/10th June has magically become available. This ride has attracted me as I will get a good sleep in my own bed on Friday night before heading out at a sensible time to catch the train to Exeter.

Anybody else planning to ride?

I love riding through the night and starting at mid-day really has appealed. Could even ride back to Reading at the end.

 :thumbsup:

BB
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Bianchi Boy on April 29, 2018, 05:46:51 pm
There has been an issue with dooking rail tickets o GWR as there are extensive rail works in the Hayes area. The tickets are now available for Saturday morning and I will be on the train that gets into Exeter at 10:13. Should be enough time to find the start and get some food.

BB
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ajax Bay on April 29, 2018, 09:32:54 pm
http://www.aukweb.net/events/detail/18-411/
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Gadget on May 12, 2018, 03:40:52 pm
I've entered this ride, and also like the look of a linear ride, especially as the finish is only 30 minutes from my house. Only Straight Outta Hackney is closer...
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on May 22, 2018, 11:18:01 am
Routesheet, gpxeditor map, and gpx file are all now published (subject to last-minute route-checking).
http://www.ukcyclist.co.uk/audax-events/73-back-to-the-smoke-400 (http://www.ukcyclist.co.uk/audax-events/73-back-to-the-smoke-400)
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ajax Bay on May 22, 2018, 02:47:16 pm
There has been an issue with dooking rail tickets o GWR as there are extensive rail works in the Hayes area. The tickets are now available for Saturday morning and I will be on the train that gets into Exeter at 10:13. Should be enough time to find the start and get some food.

BB
"Starting at 12 noon, 9 June 2018 from Exeter St David's Railway Station"
Hope you won't find 'finding the start' takes much time.
As far as getting an early lunch, rather than the rigors of the station cafe or climbing up into the city, I'd go to Exeter Quays; route:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27576143
Several eating options.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on May 22, 2018, 04:25:27 pm

As far as getting an early lunch, rather than the rigors of the station cafe or climbing up into the city, I'd go to Exeter Quays; route:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27576143
Several eating options.

Or, to save traipsing over Exe Bridges, the Imperial  (https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/devon/the-imperial-exeter)is just around the corner — better than average Wetherspoon in a nice building.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Bianchi Boy on May 22, 2018, 08:35:04 pm
Is anybody else considering an overnight sleep. There is a Premier Inn in Chipping Norton that looks a likely candidate.

By my calculation I would hope to be there at about midnight. If you fancy getting a few hours shuteye then drop me a pm.

BB
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on June 04, 2018, 09:54:59 pm
Everyone should have had an email today with the updated routesheet and gpx. 

I rode over the weekend in just over 21hrs.  That was with route-checking and annotating the routesheet, so it should be quite a fast 400.

I couldn't find any 24hr facilities at Buckingham, so I'd advise stocking up at Stow. 

See you on Saturday outside St David's.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Bianchi Boy on June 07, 2018, 10:30:50 pm
Everyone should have had an email today with the updated routesheet and gpx. 

I rode over the weekend in just over 21hrs.  That was with route-checking and annotating the routesheet, so it should be quite a fast 400.

I couldn't find any 24hr facilities at Buckingham, so I'd advise stocking up at Stow. 

See you on Saturday outside St David's.
https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham (https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham)
Is 24 hour - so the web says.....
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ben T on June 08, 2018, 08:45:41 am
Everyone should have had an email today with the updated routesheet and gpx. 

I rode over the weekend in just over 21hrs.  That was with route-checking and annotating the routesheet, so it should be quite a fast 400.

I couldn't find any 24hr facilities at Buckingham, so I'd advise stocking up at Stow. 

See you on Saturday outside St David's.
https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham (https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham)
Is 24 hour - so the web says.....
as does https://goo.gl/maps/o4WBZEBPrRr
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: nigeld on June 08, 2018, 09:04:40 am
https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham (https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham)
Is 24 hour - so the web says.....

Good find! Can we use that as the "control", or does it have to be somewhere in the town centre?

Nigel

Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on June 08, 2018, 09:41:54 am
https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham (https://www.spar.co.uk/store-locator/afb17957-spar-euro-garages-buckingham)
Is 24 hour - so the web says.....

Good find! Can we use that as the "control", or does it have to be somewhere in the town centre?

Nigel

If the address is 'Buckingham', then it's fine.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on June 09, 2018, 05:33:21 pm
Two riders had bike reservation problems and arrived at the station just over an hour late.  They look like the kind who'll catch up quite quickly.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on June 10, 2018, 03:36:23 pm
Time's up.  I know two packed.  I know seven finished.  As for the rest, we'll see what arrives in the post over the next week.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Bianchi Boy on June 10, 2018, 04:17:07 pm
I finished at 10am with Richard? Had a great ride.

Out to Wells in 4 hours and then to Durrington by about 7:30pm. Eat a meal in Durrington and then back on the road. Final climb to Stow BP services was a killer with my body screaming for food. From there to Buckingham was quite straight forward. After Buckingham I had a real low point and had to stop for a sleep. From there the ride into London was probably as good as you can manage, but I guess that is what you expect with a central London finish.

All i a great day and I really like the straight route, makes a real change to the standard loop.

BB
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ben T on June 10, 2018, 10:38:52 pm
I finished, got back to Marylebone just gone 11.
Good route. Would have found the durrington to stow leg a bit long if I hadn't inserted a pre planned stop half way.
Wiltshire was hillier than I had it down as. Stow was slightly foggy. After that the terrain was nicely rolling I thought and got light soon after stow.
Didn't get too dozy, couple of gate-leans before Buckingham though.
Got over hungry on the last leg and on finally getting to a mcds over-ate.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: grams on June 11, 2018, 08:33:14 am
Yep, enjoyed that a lot. I'd pencilled in a 24 hour garage on the A420 (off route towards Swindon) between Durrington and Stow, but ended up not needing it.

It was good to see the sights: Glastonbury Tor, Stonehenge, Abbey Road, genuine doggers on the M4 underpass*...

(* apparently "real men ride women". Given all I could see were a bunch of glum men standing around waiting, perhaps it was more of a plaintive plea for one to turn up)

Quote
From there the ride into London was probably as good as you can manage, but I guess that is what you expect with a central London finish

I found Watford-Cricklewood to be an order of magnitude worse than anything I normally choose to ride on in London. South of Edgware was gridlock mid-morning and required loads of dangerous filtering.

Aldenham Road, which broadly parallels the A41 section can be lovely and empty. You just have to choose the right roads.

Quote
Two riders had bike reservation problems

I made my reservation over the phone and didn't have anything printed and they insisted this would be fine. Some officious dickhead at Paddington demanded I go to the ticket office and get a printout with minutes to spare. Fortunately the train was the wrong way round and I didn't have to walk the full length to get to the bike spaces. Grrrrrr.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: RobD62 on July 07, 2018, 10:17:44 pm
Chippenham to Exeter train arriving with an hour and a half to spare and met Tom (Hackney AC) and Cris (Reading) We all took pre ride sustinance at the Spoons "Imperial" Met the local boys on a Breakfast ride (more breakfast thatn ride me thinks - they thought my pre 400 Shandy a bit bold!
Ian made the start a very civilised affair and the lights/junctions out of Exeter did a good job of splitting the goup of about 30 plus.  I was amazed at my pace on the roads to Taunton given the northerly wind drift the weater man had predicted and spent some of it wiht Tom.  Got to Wells in 4:20 and had posh cafe food with Chris and Allesando(both Hackney)  I let them go as I knew, form growing up in the area, what lay ahead...that climb out of Wells goies on for ever..and I do not climb quickly!. it was not until a gateway stop near Shrewton did I reealise how close I was to others when passed by three riders in quick succession.  Durrington I met up with Tom and others again but departed on my own.  joining up with Chris and Allenssandro whan they stopped to check on Tom who wsa having some shut eye before Shrivenham.  The doggers at the M4 turned into boy racers by the time I got there....all gave me a wide berth! considerate boy racers!  Rode with Tom for a bit again through Highworth and now understand why Upper Rissington is so called!  Hot Bacon and saussage bagguette with black coffee was welcome at the BP at Stow in the early hours.  The Sun rise after Chipping Norton wsa splendid.  then came the low point when all roads to Buckingham seemed to drag up!  the fella sorting the papers at the Spar garage at Buckingham came to check on me as I sat on a sack of out of season rock salt and devoured my egg and cress sandwich and more black coffee.  I deveated to Cheddington at Long Marston for toast, tea and a wash (clean shorts and under vest) at my son and his girlfriend's house stopped for about 50 minutes. This brightened me up no end and sharpened my senses for the ride into London.  Having commuted in the smoke for many a year I reverted to hearing and seeing all and treating London traffic with a great deal of respect.  Tom rolled into Marylebone about 25 minutes after me - the time was 12:55 happy with that.
Thank you Ian - I very much enjoyed the event - back to the smoke next year I hope....
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on March 06, 2019, 05:37:41 pm
I'm booked on to this ride for 2019 but it seems there are no train tickets to Exeter available on the saturday
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: grams on March 06, 2019, 06:14:32 pm
It's the first weekend of the new railway timetable and it takes time to finalise these things. Keep an eye on this page:

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/44703.aspx
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on March 06, 2019, 07:42:55 pm
It's the first weekend of the new railway timetable and it takes time to finalise these things. Keep an eye on this page:

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/44703.aspx

Thanks. Thought it was odd that it would offer me Friday or Sunday but no Saturday. Hard to believe there would be no trains or that every single train that day was booked.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Pip on March 06, 2019, 10:05:26 pm
I think the trains only take up to four bikes. I was strongly advised to book a bike reservation.
Really looking forward to this event.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: citoyen on March 08, 2019, 11:28:29 am
Thanks for the reminder - I've just booked myself and my bike on the 8.20 from Paddington, getting in to Exeter St David's at 11.42.

£14.50 for the train ticket, which is an absolute bloody bargain - it normally costs me more than that just to get from East Kent to London.

Are people planning on stopping en route or riding through the night? I'll bring my bivvy bag as I might need a kip on the way, but I'll probably aim to avoid stopping if I can help it.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: citoyen on March 08, 2019, 11:38:35 am
I made my reservation over the phone and didn't have anything printed and they insisted this would be fine. Some officious dickhead at Paddington demanded I go to the ticket office and get a printout with minutes to spare. Fortunately the train was the wrong way round and I didn't have to walk the full length to get to the bike spaces. Grrrrrr.

Useful to know. I'll make sure I get to Paddington in plenty of time...
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: grams on March 08, 2019, 11:53:38 am
Useful to know. I'll make sure I get to Paddington in plenty of time...

If you did the bike booking during the purchase you'll be fine - the bike reservation tickets will come out of the machine alongside your travel tickets. I only got in trouble because I did my bike booking over the phone.

But yeah, making sure you have extra time to get the bike loaded properly isn't a bad idea.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: citoyen on March 08, 2019, 11:56:58 am
If you did the bike booking during the purchase you'll be fine - the bike reservation tickets will come out of the machine alongside your travel tickets. I only got in trouble because I did my bike booking over the phone.

I bought the ticket from thetrainline.com then phoned GWR to make the bike reservation separately. I foresee problems...

I didn't realise until too late that GWR let you book bike spaces online at the same time as booking your ticket*, or I would have bought the ticket directly from them.


*other operators don't, so I assumed...
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: phil w on March 08, 2019, 12:09:13 pm
Are people planning on stopping en route or riding through the night? I'll bring my bivvy bag as I might need a kip on the way, but I'll probably aim to avoid stopping if I can help it.

There is a bird hide at a Tring should you find yourself flagging towards the end.  Depends how late you are running. 

As for phone booking for bike reservations. You should still get a reservation number out of that, that you can put into a ticket machine to get your bike reservation tickets out of.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Rod Marton on March 08, 2019, 12:47:02 pm
If you did the bike booking during the purchase you'll be fine - the bike reservation tickets will come out of the machine alongside your travel tickets. I only got in trouble because I did my bike booking over the phone.

I bought the ticket from thetrainline.com then phoned GWR to make the bike reservation separately. I foresee problems...

I didn't realise until too late that GWR let you book bike spaces online at the same time as booking your ticket*, or I would have bought the ticket directly from them.


*other operators don't, so I assumed...

Don't worry, the GWR bike reservation system is broken.

I don't use Paddington, but no-one ever checks bike reservations elsewhere for this very reason. You may get some jobsworth there, but I think it's unlikely.

It's difficult to find the bike spaces on the new trains, so for your information:

On five carriage trains, one compartment in the second and one in the fourth carriage.

Ten carriage trains are two five-carriage units coupled together, so as above.

Nine carriage trains have compartments in the B, F, J (two compartments) and K carriages.

Each compartment is supposed to hold two bikes, but it's difficult to get the second one in (pretty much impossible if you use the recommended hook). Compartments are at the end of the carriage nearer the centre of the train. They double at luggage space, so sometimes you have to throw a few suitcases out.

Some trains have bike symbols by the doors to show where these compartments are. However GWR are as confused by the layouts of these trains as everyone else, so they aren't always in the right place.

There are a few of the old trans still running. If you are lucky you will get one of these.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: grams on March 08, 2019, 12:55:03 pm
As for phone booking for bike reservations. You should still get a reservation number out of that, that you can put into a ticket machine to get your bike reservation tickets out of.

Most companies do, but last year GWR gave me a reference number that was emphatically not a ToD pickup code.

I don't use Paddington, but no-one ever checks bike reservations elsewhere for this very reason. You may get some jobsworth there, but I think it's unlikely.

I was ambushed at the ticket gates last year with minutes to spare, so this is terrible advice!

(I've had multiple encounters with terrible jobsworths at Paddington - it seems to be a mecca for miserable gits)

Quote
There are a few of the old trans still running. If you are lucky you will get one of these.

By May there will be none (at least running to Paddington).
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: citoyen on March 08, 2019, 01:22:12 pm
Oh well, the office is near Paddington so maybe I’ll call in there on my lunch break and sort it out ahead of the day.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on March 08, 2019, 02:20:45 pm
Well I am booked. 9am at Reading to 11.06 in Exeter. I couldn't book from maidenhead as cycles not bootable on the maidenhead to reading trains. I guess I can either ride to reading or take any of the frequent local trains without a booking.

I've had the tickets posted to me for piece of mind that I have them.

I nearly called the whole thing off as the confirmation page before paying made no mention of the bike booking.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on March 08, 2019, 03:53:54 pm
Check-riding it last year and stopping frequently to write notes, I still finished in a 21hrs.  It's a pretty benign route (unless you bollox it up by allowing RWGPS to reroute you along all the main roads as someone did).

The route has changed a little around Watford, to avoid some busy dual-carriageway.  I have yet to check the new section, but the gps file won't be far out.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on May 14, 2019, 12:11:07 pm
Have I missed an email on this ride? Or do I just download the files from the website?
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on May 14, 2019, 01:34:44 pm
Have I missed an email on this ride? Or do I just download the files from the website?

Email will be end of this week.  Files unlikely to change in the meantime.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on May 14, 2019, 01:56:42 pm
Thanks.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on May 17, 2019, 10:41:53 am
Email sent to all entrants (check your spam box if you haven't seen it).

Entry is still open at the moment, but I'll probably close it at 50.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: citoyen on May 17, 2019, 01:11:48 pm
Had to DNS the Invicta 400 last week due to matters not related to cycling. Putting my chances of being able to do this one at about 70% currently. Will let you know if I have to pull out.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: grams on May 20, 2019, 09:26:41 pm
I have a friend who's hoping to do this but can't find a bike space from London for Saturday morning. If anyone has one spare please let me know.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on May 20, 2019, 10:40:29 pm
We ended up with Friday trains and accommodation for this reason alone.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on May 24, 2019, 01:52:48 pm
Going via my house makes the Buckingham to marylebone leg only 10km longer and home is conveniently halfway.

On that basis would people consider sleeping at home rather than pushing through, especially as I could be arriving at marylebone before the trains start otherwise.

Get home shower sleep change leave overnight bag behind and finish at my convenience. As it's a postal finish it's not like I will keep someone waiting for me.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: grams on May 24, 2019, 02:02:54 pm
The Edgware Road is a car park after, say, 9 am, and I found it very hard to squeeze through stationary traffic. If you can finish before the traffic starts, you're much better off.

(For anyone finishing after traffic starts, I'd recommend heading east of the M1 and coming in through Elstree, Highgate and Regent's Park, or thereabouts)
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ajax Bay on May 24, 2019, 03:28:20 pm
See you all at the start at midday tomorrow. Just (50m?) north of the station main entrance.
Sunset: 21:07, sunrise 04:56
https://app.photoephemeris.com/?ll=51.816650,-0.814580&dt=20190526000700%2B0100&z=12&spn=0.07,0.30&center=51.8167,-0.8146
Nice, if gentle, tailwind for the second half.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on May 24, 2019, 04:27:53 pm
The Edgware Road is a car park after, say, 9 am, and I found it very hard to squeeze through stationary traffic. If you can finish before the traffic starts, you're much better off.

(For anyone finishing after traffic starts, I'd recommend heading east of the M1 and coming in through Elstree, Highgate and Regent's Park, or thereabouts)
If I went home I wouldn't use the edgware road. Either uxbridge to Shepherd's Bush or the longer but much more pleasant Staines Richmond putney route.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on May 25, 2019, 09:07:35 am
On the train to Exeter. Bike on no problem. Unfortunately my seat at opposite end of train from bike storage.

Nicely joined up!

Dont know why people couldn't get a bike booking when I got on there were no other bikes.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on May 25, 2019, 09:47:46 am
There were 6 bikes on last night's train with space for 2 and I was the only one with a bike reservation as far as I could see...
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ajax Bay on May 25, 2019, 02:52:52 pm
About 32 started at noon, including some that others might refer to as "audaxing gods".  :facepalm:
Bit warm - all set for a lovely afternoon and night time ride.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on May 25, 2019, 07:44:35 pm
I've picked up a Santini cap on the road. Returned to the lost and found department (the organiser) while we were both riding the event.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on May 26, 2019, 01:37:38 pm
Got to marylebone to find nothing open. Cash machine receipt very unhelpful in not including address.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: vorsprung on May 26, 2019, 03:32:08 pm
About 32 started at noon, including some that others might refer to as "audaxing gods".  :facepalm:
Bit warm - all set for a lovely afternoon and night time ride.

We saw most of the field coming the other way over the Mendips.
None of them looked god like :)
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on May 26, 2019, 03:49:06 pm
About 32 started at noon, including some that others might refer to as "audaxing gods".  :facepalm:
Bit warm - all set for a lovely afternoon and night time ride.

We saw most of the field coming the other way over the Mendips.
None of them looked god like :)
I certainly didn't feel god like, on what was billed as a benign 400

But what a lovely ride, loved the rolling first section, followed by the levels, easy to make good progress and put time in the bank, the mendips had a lot of climbing but nothing too severe. Particular highlights were the lovely valley out of Marlborough, the most painless crossing of the ridgeway I have ever used and the views across to glastonbury tor (i think) on the climb after wells.  Low light was the crazy descent before cublington, where the centre of the road was gravel, and the edges were pot holes.

Overall a lovely event I'd like to do again, but probably with a sleep stop at Stowe or chipping norton
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Pip on May 27, 2019, 09:19:45 am
https://stravaddict.wordpress.com/2019/05/27/back-to-the-smoke-412-kms/

cathartic

Thanks Ian.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: RobD62 on May 28, 2019, 10:43:06 am
Ian Thank you for an excellent second Back to the Smoke 412k
I had a bit of a panic a week before the event realising I had not booked my train tickets.  I went to the ticket office after work and asked for a ticket on the straight through 0846 from Chippenham to Exeter but was advised there were no bike spaces left!  Ah, rethink. OK, I will take the next available earlier train which was 0746, change at Bristol Temple Meads.  "And a return sir?" No thank you says I.  I will have a single from Paddington to Chippenham on the 1437 on Sunday.  He drew breath but thought better of it. 

Arrival in Exeter early afforded me the time to buy stamps and an envelope to return my brevet card and PoPs to the guvnor and partake of the Imperial's (Spoons) big breakfast and bottomless teapot.

At the start the conversation was convivial and there seemed more starters that the 25 last year.  Only 5 more apparently.
Rolling along out of Exeter I fell in with Judith and David but had to take leave in the lanes after Uffcombe due to the revenge of the bottomless teapot I re-attached myself as we turned on to the A38 helped by some slow road work traffic controls riding for a few miles with the Muswell massive I found myself admonishing myself for reading a young lady’s shorts (sorry Bubbles) but thought “make wats not war” is a good tag line.   

The delights of downtown Taunton were enjoyed with Judith but pleased to join the comparative quiet of the A361.  The level’s around Godney and Fenny Castle were my commute to work from Street to Wells 35 plus years ago, first job after school, and the roads have not changed a bit, We were treated to an errant heffer that IanH, Ms Port Sunlight and I herded back into its field. 

I controlled on the way out of Wells at a Budgen filling station (Like Co-Op but not) and ground my way up over the Mendips. It was warm and I was swapping places with an Exeter Wheeler.  Away from the Tesco control at Durrington the lanes are a delight although getting dark by Upavon the climb up to Severnake is always a grind.  After Marlborough the lanes are little and I was mindful of Mrs D’s advice “to be wary of the night critters".  Last year, in Chopping Knife Lane, I had seen a massive rabbit who I had to ask politely to move out of my way. This year as well as a few small rodents appearing in my front light I saw a young badger, who seemed extremely surprised to see me and shortly after an owl standing in the middle of the road staring me out gracefully taking off when I got within ten feet of him.

Lechlade must have had an earthquake as I passed through after midnight as, staggering away from a bank holiday weekend riverside function, there were a number of people using walls or each other to keep upright.  On the outskirts I stopped kerbside to don my legwarmers.   I was checked on by a fellow audaxer and stared at by a couple of motorists.

Arriving at the Stow on the Word control, a 24 hour M&S garage I was please to see others sitting around the forecourt in various states of awakeness, mostly not. I was so looking forward to a bucket of strong black coffee and some hot food.  “I am so sorry” said the young lady, obviously for the umpteenth time, “both coffee machines are out of order”! I ate a hot sausage bap and pushed on. Thinking I could get coffee at Chipping Norton.  I ignored the garage in town remembering a 24 hour garage at the top of the hill on the roundabout/A40 junction I remembered from previous calendar and DIY events ……it was boarded up!  I was so disappointed.  I started draining of energy brought of by the dozes and was passed by IanF and Ms Port Sunlightt (her mutter as she passed suggested she was also lacking sunlight!) I passed them again, shortly after, giving support to a five bar gate and resting their eyes.
Buckingham control and the Spar garage had the coffee I desired and after 10 minutes shat eye leaning against the windscreen wash I felt a bit more awake.  I diverted a couple of miles off course at Long Marston to see my son for tea and toast at his house.  A face wash and change of base layer freshened me up and sharpened my blunt wits for the last 50km push to the finish. I caught up with the Muswell Hill group who were working well together in Berkhamsted but lost them after Hemel Hempstead with the help of some traffic lights.   The revised, from last year, route around the back of Bushey was far more favourable than the busy A41 Kilburn High Road/Edgeware Road such a contrast to the lanes with grass growing up the middle earlier in the ride.

The Muswell Group were at the arrivee and kindly waited with my bike while I popped into M&S to get my final receipt/PoP.

Across to Paddington I arrived an hour and ten minutes before my train was due to depart back to home and sleep and food. 

Thaks again Ian...excellent.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: hellymedic on May 28, 2019, 08:01:43 pm
Nice write up!
<pedant> A5 is Edgware Road/Kilburn High Road/Cricklewood Broadway etc
A41 is Watford Bypass/Edgware Way/Watford Way/Hendon Way/Finchley Road.

A5 crosses A41 north of Stanmore.
Before roads were renumbered recently, A5 also crossed A41 near Newport, Shropshire/Sherriffhales, of WCW fame.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2019
Post by: Ian H on May 30, 2019, 08:52:12 pm
I'm still waiting for some cards to be returned.  Need 'em by the weekend, please.

Thank-you for all the kind comments about the route.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Chuffy on June 03, 2019, 12:55:31 am
B2tS is just one of many long rides I’ve failed on over the years. Anything from 200km upwards is always a bit of a dice-roll, sometimes my legs fall off, sometimes it’s my head and it doesn’t take much to knock me off balance. Last year I got to the bloody horrible hill at Oare (190something km) decided I’d had enough and turned to ride back to my parents. Which was lucky, because my lights packed up after Salisbury, just within range of rescue from Mum. I’d have been completely buggered if I’d ridden on, so yay for being a lazy coward.

Trying again this year was a bit of a gamble. A fast but sweaty 200km two weeks earlier was the longest I’d ridden for nearly a year (including a forced layoff for a broken elbow). Anyhoo, decided to roll the bones and tag along with Ian H and Elaine Jewkes. Turned out they were both stronger than me. Ian was fresh, for a given value of that adjective, from the previous weeks BCM and Elaine is a strong club rider doing her first 400. I fell off the back on some horrible little hill (on the Somerset Levels….) lost them at the subsequent junction and after letting them know I was alive and a mile down the road, bashed on alone to Wells. By now I was already feeling crap, slow and low. Not great. At Wells I eschewed the magnificent cathedral for the equally magnificent Tesco, which sells sushi, fruit and Coke, which the cathedral doesn’t. Packing was a definite option. Rang Baggy, whinged about what to do next and decided to plod on, given that there were plenty of bailing options down the road. In my head I’d decided that making Stow was the decider and that if I got there in one piece, the rest would be fine.

Plodding out from Wells my cassette started playing up. The lowest gears worked, but I had to hold the lever in to keep the chain on. A bit vexing and I still had a few dropped chains to hook back on through the ride. Annoying but not fatal. Passed a chap with the same issue and we swapped places a few time. Might have been you RobD62, seeing as I was probably the Exeter Wheeler you mention.

A low residue food strategy was paying off – ice creams, gels (a recent discovery, Torq rhubarb & custard ftw) rice puddings and pots of jelly, necked on the move. Without the need for full value toilet stops I avoided triggering my Achilles arse, although my shorts & lack of saddle time were doing their worst on the outer periphery of my fundamental areas. More of that later…

Durrington eventually came into view and I was deeply cheered to see a bunch of audaxers & bikes at the local pub. Naturally I carried on to the Sainsburys Local, because standards must be maintained and it’s not a proper audax unless you’re sitting uncomfortably on a low wall eating an egg and cress sandwich. Oh and a pre-mixed G&T. After checking messages and posting on Facebook it was time to press on and try to complete the leg that had beaten me a year earlier. I also sent a video message to a very good friend who is undergoing yet another round of treatment for her terminal cancer. She treats me like I’m some kind of cycling hero, but she’s spent more than half her life dealing with shit that makes her far, far more heroic than some fat berk riding a bicycle, so I sent her a message to remind her of that. She hates being called an inspiration, but she’ll never see this, so I can say it with complete safety. Suck on that, princess…  ;D

Reader: it was not pleasant. But at least I had a dynamo this time. I’d chosen a faster DC route past Swindon, with an optional diversion to a 24hr Mcdonalds. In the end I decided to spurn the hot apple pies & salty chips and press on, which probably saved the best part of 30 valuable minutes. I knew the road from Burford to Stow from previous rides (my first ever century, albeit in the opposite direction) but I wasn’t quite prepared for the utter slog or the badger that tried to kill me. Must have just clipped his tail as he scuttled in front of my wheel, the furry twat. I did know about the Bloody Great Hill into Stow, which was looming large in my mind. However, o happy day, it wasn’t too awful. Granny gear, head down, chug upward very slowly. The garage forecourt looked as glamorous as you can imagine, decorated as it was with smelly randonneurs in various states of decay. I too was nearly reduced to tears by the lack of coffee, but made do with the other accoutrements of civilised audaxing: a cold coffee drink, a prawn sandwich and ice cream. I also bought a packet of smoked cheese to eat the day after the ride when I emptied my Carradice. This is also an important part of my audax tradition YMMV. At this point Ian H and a very knackered looking Elaine rolled in. I comforted her with some kind words: it will get better when the sun rises, there will be good patches and Ian will eventually run out of stories about people you don’t know. Possibly.*

Rolling out felt good. I’d reached my mental milestone, which meant my head wouldn’t fall off later, even if my legs did. The route I’d planned went via the Rollrights, another nod to my very early days of endurance cycling, when I wore modesty shorts over my lycra and a heavy cotton t-shirt. Silly arse. It was a quiet, velvety night, the Whispering Knights were silent and the lanes were nice, with a slightly downward trend. Lovely night-time riding.

The garage on the southern shores of Buckingham was glorious. Never has a pile of bagged kindling felt more like a comfy armchair and even better, there was coffee. Coffee! Hot, strong, sweet and delicious, just like Baggy. The chap at the counter told me that the machine had been out of action for cleaning a few hours earlier and some riders had been disappointed. Hah! Take that speedy bois.  :demon:

By now I was sort of in terra-incognita, with only a passing knowledge of the geography. I’d buggered about with the route, because that’s half the fun, but not from a position of local knowledge. When I turned up one lane, only to see a sign saying ‘12% ahead’, that was enough to cause a quick revision and a sensible avoidance of Swans Bottom**. What I wasn’t smart enough to avoid was sodding Rickmansworth. Which is on the river and hence at the bottom of a bastarding steep valley. I did the walk of shame up the far side, cursing my stupidity. By now I was out of drink, hot and not in the mood for another gel. The nearest shop en-route turned out to be a crappy Nisa in equally crappy Pinner. However crappy it was, they sold me the nicest Magnum in the whole universe. So I had another and staggered on.

Picking up the A5 at Hendon was a joy. I’d stayed nearby while working in That London, so this was my old commute and I’d been looking forward to riding it again. Even on a Sunday morning it was packed, so it was back to the old routine of filtering through stationary traffic. It had taken me a while to get used to that back in the day, but it was fun, of a sort.

Marylebone was quite lacking in charm (and other riders, although Ian & Elaine rolled in barely minutes after I’d left) and I was lacking in a decent lock, so it was a quick cash-point receipt (11.14, very pleasing) and off to Paddington for a return train. I’ve been on the bike-ticket merry-go-round many times and when you bother to try booking a space, even on the day, they always lie, because computer says no. Bollocks to that. I’ve only once been refused and that was by a Virgin guard at Taunton, may his piles itch for all eternity. The new Great Western trains have saved weight by not painting ‘bikes here’ on any of their carriages, but most of them have those stupid vertical hangers, with space for two bikes. No guard was going to sniff my saddle, match it to my shorts & demand a bike ticket, so I hooked the bike, flopped in a seat and fell asleep. Baggy collected me at Exeter & took me home for a little cry, a shower & a Nepalese curry the size of a very large curry.

It’s taken more than a week to recover. My arse looked like a baboon who has sat on a belt-sander. I’m talking red, raw, weeping and sticking to bedclothes & underwear. Photos are available for anyone with a strong enough stomach... :o Even my mum said that she’d never heard of nappy rash like that. After a few days it was scabby & peeling. Which was hugely satisfying, like sunburn only not. Foolishly I started the Avalon Sunrise 400km a couple of days ago, but really didn’t have the legs and rode home after 120km.

All told I was bloody pleased to have had the gumption to finish. It doesn’t always work out that way. Torq rhubarb & custard gels are nice, Wiggle Mocha caffeine gels are good. Banging METAAAAAAAAHLLLLLLLLL is great (Amon Amarth & Powerwolf ftw). Pots of jelly are good ride food, albeit heavy to carry. Always make sure your coffee stops have working machines. And don’t forget your sunscreen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI).

* - I might be terribly rude to you old chap, but I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for you.  :-*
** - I didn't go up Swans Bottom. FFS. I must be getting old.  :facepalm:
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: essexian on June 03, 2019, 05:26:42 am
Before roads were renumbered recently, A5 also crossed A41 near Newport, Shropshire/Sherriffhales, of WCW fame.

It still does  ;D

If my back/leg heals up by next weekend, I will be on that very roundabout on Saturday morning.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Pip on June 03, 2019, 06:35:05 am
 ;D ;D ;D Chuffy....witty bastard! Congrats
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on June 03, 2019, 11:37:55 am
I'm pretty sure the organisers route over the chilterns is the easiest possible way and any route involving swans bottom is not in the top 5.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on June 03, 2019, 02:00:08 pm
At this point Ian H and a very knackered looking Elaine rolled in. I comforted her with some kind words...

Elaine wishes it to be made clear she was not knackered...
Quote
Quite entertaining....
Perhaps you could reply on my behalf to say I wasn't feeling knackered, just in a similar-shaped agony to him, requiring (once procured) a hydrogel dressing to avoid said sticking to undies, bedding and clothing, not to mention trying not to appear, by having soggy marks, to have poor continence... My personal baboon was one-sided rather than bilateral, but was just about sufficiently vanquished to not preclude me riding the Chester RC 25 yesterday, though I was utterly, utterly knackered at the end of the day - think it all caught up on me!
My personal "favourite" hill was the FG climb up through Bushey Heath, when I really had reverted to five years of age and "are we nearly there yet?"
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Chuffy on June 03, 2019, 07:30:51 pm
At this point Ian H and a very knackered looking Elaine rolled in. I comforted her with some kind words...

Elaine wishes it to be made clear she was not knackered...
Quote
Quite entertaining....
Perhaps you could reply on my behalf to say I wasn't feeling knackered, just in a similar-shaped agony to him, requiring (once procured) a hydrogel dressing to avoid said sticking to undies, bedding and clothing, not to mention trying not to appear, by having soggy marks, to have poor continence... My personal baboon was one-sided rather than bilateral, but was just about sufficiently vanquished to not preclude me riding the Chester RC 25 yesterday, though I was utterly, utterly knackered at the end of the day - think it all caught up on me!
My personal "favourite" hill was the FG climb up through Bushey Heath, when I really had reverted to five years of age and "are we nearly there yet?"

Merely suffering from a demi-baboon.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Ian H on June 04, 2019, 07:29:32 pm
Provisional results should appear sometime tomorrow. 

I have been chasing riders for their cards, three have failed to respond at all, whether to say they packed or anything else.  They will miss out, I'm afraid.

It does feel like herding cats.*




* and I have the same task next week after the Buzzard.
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: RobD62 on June 04, 2019, 07:36:32 pm
B2tS is just one of many long rides I’ve failed on over the years. Anything from 200km upwards is always a bit of a dice-roll, sometimes my legs fall off, sometimes it’s my head and it doesn’t take much to knock me off balance. Last year I got to the bloody horrible hill at Oare (190something km) decided I’d had enough and turned to ride back to my parents. Which was lucky, because my lights packed up after Salisbury, just within range of rescue from Mum. I’d have been completely buggered if I’d ridden on, so yay for being a lazy coward.

Trying again this year was a bit of a gamble. A fast but sweaty 200km two weeks earlier was the longest I’d ridden for nearly a year (including a forced layoff for a broken elbow). Anyhoo, decided to roll the bones and tag along with Ian H and Elaine Jewkes. Turned out they were both stronger than me. Ian was fresh, for a given value of that adjective, from the previous weeks BCM and Elaine is a strong club rider doing her first 400. I fell off the back on some horrible little hill (on the Somerset Levels….) lost them at the subsequent junction and after letting them know I was alive and a mile down the road, bashed on alone to Wells. By now I was already feeling crap, slow and low. Not great. At Wells I eschewed the magnificent cathedral for the equally magnificent Tesco, which sells sushi, fruit and Coke, which the cathedral doesn’t. Packing was a definite option. Rang Baggy, whinged about what to do next and decided to plod on, given that there were plenty of bailing options down the road. In my head I’d decided that making Stow was the decider and that if I got there in one piece, the rest would be fine.

Plodding out from Wells my cassette started playing up. The lowest gears worked, but I had to hold the lever in to keep the chain on. A bit vexing and I still had a few dropped chains to hook back on through the ride. Annoying but not fatal. Passed a chap with the same issue and we swapped places a few time. Might have been you RobD62, seeing as I was probably the Exeter Wheeler you mention.

A low residue food strategy was paying off – ice creams, gels (a recent discovery, Torq rhubarb & custard ftw) rice puddings and pots of jelly, necked on the move. Without the need for full value toilet stops I avoided triggering my Achilles arse, although my shorts & lack of saddle time were doing their worst on the outer periphery of my fundamental areas. More of that later…

Durrington eventually came into view and I was deeply cheered to see a bunch of audaxers & bikes at the local pub. Naturally I carried on to the Sainsburys Local, because standards must be maintained and it’s not a proper audax unless you’re sitting uncomfortably on a low wall eating an egg and cress sandwich. Oh and a pre-mixed G&T. After checking messages and posting on Facebook it was time to press on and try to complete the leg that had beaten me a year earlier. I also sent a video message to a very good friend who is undergoing yet another round of treatment for her terminal cancer. She treats me like I’m some kind of cycling hero, but she’s spent more than half her life dealing with shit that makes her far, far more heroic than some fat berk riding a bicycle, so I sent her a message to remind her of that. She hates being called an inspiration, but she’ll never see this, so I can say it with complete safety. Suck on that, princess…  ;D

Reader: it was not pleasant. But at least I had a dynamo this time. I’d chosen a faster DC route past Swindon, with an optional diversion to a 24hr Mcdonalds. In the end I decided to spurn the hot apple pies & salty chips and press on, which probably saved the best part of 30 valuable minutes. I knew the road from Burford to Stow from previous rides (my first ever century, albeit in the opposite direction) but I wasn’t quite prepared for the utter slog or the badger that tried to kill me. Must have just clipped his tail as he scuttled in front of my wheel, the furry twat. I did know about the Bloody Great Hill into Stow, which was looming large in my mind. However, o happy day, it wasn’t too awful. Granny gear, head down, chug upward very slowly. The garage forecourt looked as glamorous as you can imagine, decorated as it was with smelly randonneurs in various states of decay. I too was nearly reduced to tears by the lack of coffee, but made do with the other accoutrements of civilised audaxing: a cold coffee drink, a prawn sandwich and ice cream. I also bought a packet of smoked cheese to eat the day after the ride when I emptied my Carradice. This is also an important part of my audax tradition YMMV. At this point Ian H and a very knackered looking Elaine rolled in. I comforted her with some kind words: it will get better when the sun rises, there will be good patches and Ian will eventually run out of stories about people you don’t know. Possibly.*

Rolling out felt good. I’d reached my mental milestone, which meant my head wouldn’t fall off later, even if my legs did. The route I’d planned went via the Rollrights, another nod to my very early days of endurance cycling, when I wore modesty shorts over my lycra and a heavy cotton t-shirt. Silly arse. It was a quiet, velvety night, the Whispering Knights were silent and the lanes were nice, with a slightly downward trend. Lovely night-time riding.

The garage on the southern shores of Buckingham was glorious. Never has a pile of bagged kindling felt more like a comfy armchair and even better, there was coffee. Coffee! Hot, strong, sweet and delicious, just like Baggy. The chap at the counter told me that the machine had been out of action for cleaning a few hours earlier and some riders had been disappointed. Hah! Take that speedy bois.  :demon:

By now I was sort of in terra-incognita, with only a passing knowledge of the geography. I’d buggered about with the route, because that’s half the fun, but not from a position of local knowledge. When I turned up one lane, only to see a sign saying ‘12% ahead’, that was enough to cause a quick revision and a sensible avoidance of Swans Bottom**. What I wasn’t smart enough to avoid was sodding Rickmansworth. Which is on the river and hence at the bottom of a bastarding steep valley. I did the walk of shame up the far side, cursing my stupidity. By now I was out of drink, hot and not in the mood for another gel. The nearest shop en-route turned out to be a crappy Nisa in equally crappy Pinner. However crappy it was, they sold me the nicest Magnum in the whole universe. So I had another and staggered on.

Picking up the A5 at Hendon was a joy. I’d stayed nearby while working in That London, so this was my old commute and I’d been looking forward to riding it again. Even on a Sunday morning it was packed, so it was back to the old routine of filtering through stationary traffic. It had taken me a while to get used to that back in the day, but it was fun, of a sort.

Marylebone was quite lacking in charm (and other riders, although Ian & Elaine rolled in barely minutes after I’d left) and I was lacking in a decent lock, so it was a quick cash-point receipt (11.14, very pleasing) and off to Paddington for a return train. I’ve been on the bike-ticket merry-go-round many times and when you bother to try booking a space, even on the day, they always lie, because computer says no. Bollocks to that. I’ve only once been refused and that was by a Virgin guard at Taunton, may his piles itch for all eternity. The new Great Western trains have saved weight by not painting ‘bikes here’ on any of their carriages, but most of them have those stupid vertical hangers, with space for two bikes. No guard was going to sniff my saddle, match it to my shorts & demand a bike ticket, so I hooked the bike, flopped in a seat and fell asleep. Baggy collected me at Exeter & took me home for a little cry, a shower & a Nepalese curry the size of a very large curry.

It’s taken more than a week to recover. My arse looked like a baboon who has sat on a belt-sander. I’m talking red, raw, weeping and sticking to bedclothes & underwear. Photos are available for anyone with a strong enough stomach... :o Even my mum said that she’d never heard of nappy rash like that. After a few days it was scabby & peeling. Which was hugely satisfying, like sunburn only not. Foolishly I started the Avalon Sunrise 400km a couple of days ago, but really didn’t have the legs and rode home after 120km.

All told I was bloody pleased to have had the gumption to finish. It doesn’t always work out that way. Torq rhubarb & custard gels are nice, Wiggle Mocha caffeine gels are good. Banging METAAAAAAAAHLLLLLLLLL is great (Amon Amarth & Powerwolf ftw). Pots of jelly are good ride food, albeit heavy to carry. Always make sure your coffee stops have working machines. And don’t forget your sunscreen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI).

* - I might be terribly rude to you old chap, but I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for you.  :-*
** - I didn't go up Swans Bottom. FFS. I must be getting old.  :facepalm:

Chuffy - Twa me  :) and thank you for yuor cheerful exchanges when our paths did cross.  I might have been vying for a bike space with you had I not stopped at my son's in Cheddington for an hour and a bit.  But it was worth it....a wash, fresh vest, tea and peanut butter toast was worth the stop, oh yes, and seeing my lovely son.  You were right, that climb on the outskirts of Watford was a b'stard.  I had to hop off the bike to check I still moving!  :)
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: RobD62 on June 04, 2019, 07:48:27 pm
At this point Ian H and a very knackered looking Elaine rolled in. I comforted her with some kind words...

Elaine wishes it to be made clear she was not knackered...
Quote
Quite entertaining....
Perhaps you could reply on my behalf to say I wasn't feeling knackered, just in a similar-shaped agony to him, requiring (once procured) a hydrogel dressing to avoid said sticking to undies, bedding and clothing, not to mention trying not to appear, by having soggy marks, to have poor continence... My personal baboon was one-sided rather than bilateral, but was just about sufficiently vanquished to not preclude me riding the Chester RC 25 yesterday, though I was utterly, utterly knackered at the end of the day - think it all caught up on me!
My personal "favourite" hill was the FG climb up through Bushey Heath, when I really had reverted to five years of age and "are we nearly there yet?"

I suspect we had used much of our energy hearding errant cattle on the somerset levels! :)
I do feel that as well as the hearding the farming community owes you and Ian a debt of gratitude for stopping a five bar gate falling over in the Tingewick area by resting your backs against it.  I noted that the effort required you both to close your eyes!  Was the coolness of the ground also easig the fire behind?
IanF....please pass on. Thanks Rob
Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: RobD62 on June 04, 2019, 07:56:11 pm
Provisional results should appear sometime tomorrow. 

I have been chasing riders for their cards, three have failed to respond at all, whether to say they packed or anything else.  They will miss out, I'm afraid.

It does feel like herding cats.*

Posted from Paddington - Sunday PM - Hope Pat did his best to get it to you.
Rob




* and I have the same task next week after the Buzzard.

Title: Re: Back to the Smoke 2018
Post by: Wycombewheeler on June 05, 2019, 11:59:59 am
Provisional results should appear sometime tomorrow. 

I have been chasing riders for their cards, three have failed to respond at all, whether to say they packed or anything else.  They will miss out, I'm afraid.

It does feel like herding cats.*




* and I have the same task next week after the Buzzard.

Up now, taking my current tally of provisional results to 4