Author Topic: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax  (Read 1435 times)

Brakeless

  • Brakeless
Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« on: July 13, 2019, 05:46:36 pm »
Last month two of us rode Trafalgar to Trafalgar South to North over 15 days. There was quite a bit of chat about it on the Auk Facebook group but as that tends to disappear quite quickly I thought I'd post our route here. We found route info online quite hard, well impossible to find and spent a long time planning the route so hopefully it'll show up on searches for future riders if we post it here.

This link goes to a route which is all my days from Strava joined up. It includes all the little loops finding food in towns and any little mistakes we made so it shouldn't be followed exactly but 99% of it is good.

https://ridewithgps.com/trips/37184236

As a write up the below is a copy and Paste from Facebook, hopefully it makes a bit of sense on here.

It’s hard to know where to start with a ride of this length, it’s hard to remember all the days in the right order and almost impossible to describe all the different landscapes, incredible views and emotional highs and lows of so many hours and days in the saddle.

We flew to Jerez in the bottom SW corner of Spain with our bikes in cardboard boxes wearing old clothes. We built our bikes, binned the clothes and rode just short of 100km down to Cape Trafalgar before setting off on the Audax proper on the Sunday.

Our Brevet cards were actually Brevet Books and had controls across Spain, Andorra and France that were all strategically placed to ensure we rode some tough and spectacular roads to link them. Most of our days were over 200km with the odd slightly shorter one to try and ensure a longer evenings rest every now and then. Our shortest day, other than the last 100km in England was 107 miles, our longest 156 miles. We basically had 14 x 200km days in a row.

The official routesheet we were given several months ago was the same basic one that was produced when the ride was first put together in 1985, a list of towns with the number of the road linking them. Many of the roads had either been upgraded to motorways or become pretty disused since then. I spent more time than is healthy on Ride with GPS and google streetview plotting our route and we left with all 15 stages plotted in our GPSs from hotel to hotel.

We crossed Spain over 9 days travelling from the bottom SW corner to the top NE border with Andorra. We rode through rugged mountain terrain in the south, mile upon mile of deserted hills and olive groves in Central Spain. We narrowly escaped getting into serious hydration problems on Day 4 after 100km in the absolute middle of nowhere with nowhere to fill water bottles and 40 degree heat. We were saved by an official building at a dam after miles and miles of nothing but lizards, deer, the odd snake and Vultures up above us. I banged on a locked door and after a while a guy opened it to a mad Englishman waving an empty water bottle. He smiled and gestured me inside to a water cooler. Never have we been so pleased to fill our bottles.

We visited the famous windmills at Consuegra, we had a control at Toledo, a world heritage site and we rode a brilliant cycle path for about 10 miles into Madrid.

On day 7 after an overnight stop in the beautiful old town of Siguenza we spent the morning riding down an endless limestone gorge on a perfectly smooth winding rode with each bend bringing an even more amazing view than the previous one.

We rode through Lleida which is very close to where we ride on our April club trips and the roads had a really familiar feel.

We left Spain on Day 9 and climbed through Andorra before a long evening descent down into France.

Our route through France was basically directly North. What we hadn’t expected was to be riding in some of the hottest temperatures that had ever been recorded there. We ended up riding very slowly so we didn’t overheat, we had a policy of stopping at the first opportunity we had to fill our bottles as soon as we started to drink our second bottle. This would sometimes be after only 30km in temperatures in the mid forties.

Day 11 turned into one of the hardest of the trip. It was up and down from one valley to the next, we climbed over 4000 metres and covered 146 miles in 40 degrees. I was a proper mess at the end arriving at our hotel in Mauriac at 8pm having left Albi at 6am. To top the day off all restaurants and shops had closed and we ended up in a pokey kebab shop, not ideal for Vegan Matt.

We had been aiming for the midnight ferry on Saturday night and after a long 156 mile day including going right through Paris from South to North it felt pretty surreal to finally reach Dieppe.

It’s hard to summarise the trip really, most days we became focused on the next 50km, the next place we could get food or fill our bottles. We both had periods sitting on each others wheel with seriously low energy levels but strangely we never seemed to be both at a low at the same time. I had plenty of periods where I could happily spin my pedals but there was no way I could properly put any power through them at all. My strategy the whole ride was to keep it steady at all times as I had no way of knowing how I would be after so many repeated long days.

We completed the route in 15 days, there was a 16 day limit so we always had a spare day in case of any unforeseen delay. We covered 3100km (1925 miles) and climbed 36,500 metres. We had one puncture the whole trip and other than minor gear tweeks no mechanicals all trip.

Massive thanks to Matt. We both had our ups and downs and ‘moments’ as could be expected over such a distance but we both had the same attitude and I couldn’t have had a better riding partner.


Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2019, 05:57:48 pm »
Very well done; and for sharing.

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2019, 06:59:10 pm »
Very well done; and for sharing.
+1

(after doing the brilliant 1500km Eiger Sanction, this could be a nice next step. Not sure about the Spanish heat though!)
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2019, 07:17:02 pm »
Last month two of us rode Trafalgar to Trafalgar South to North over 15 days. There was quite a bit of chat about it on the Auk Facebook group but as that tends to disappear quite quickly I thought I'd post our route here. We found route info online quite hard, well impossible to find and spent a long time planning the route so hopefully it'll show up on searches for future riders if we post it here.

That's why this place is so much more valuable than Facebook and one reason (of many!) I despair the rise of Facebook.

Thanks for posting your ride report; a great read  :thumbsup:
You're only as successful as your last 1200...

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2019, 08:46:21 am »
Last month two of us rode Trafalgar to Trafalgar South to North over 15 days. There was quite a bit of chat about it on the Auk Facebook group but as that tends to disappear quite quickly I thought I'd post our route here. We found route info online quite hard, well impossible to find and spent a long time planning the route so hopefully it'll show up on searches for future riders if we post it here.

That's why this place is so much more valuable than Facebook and one reason (of many!) I despair the rise of Facebook.

Thanks for posting your ride report; a great read  :thumbsup:

+1
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 168 (metric) 518 (furlongs)  111 (nautical miles)

3peaker

  • RRTY Mad 31 up
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2019, 01:02:40 am »
Ahhh, memories of my solo T-T in Sept 2001 as I approached retirement from the RAF. Albi was my biggest shock as no room in the city. Everywhere had been block-booked for Toulouse Airport, so I was resigned to a park bench. Reason?? The night of 9/11! I remember long days with early starts and late nights. The only time-line was the 16 days, so I enjoyed a comfortable pace. Spain was hot so a few siestas. The treat each night was the ½ carafe of local red to accompany the evening meal. Most memorable day was crossing the Pyrenees through Andorra with a late evening descent to Aix les Thermes.

No gps back then and a few questionable roads using large scale mapping. Madrid and Paris were pains to pace but certainly livened the otherwise quiet ride. Ended up escaping from the outside lane of the Periferique in Paris. But a terrific ride and fond memories.
SteveP

Promoting : Cheltenham Flyer 200, Cider with Rosie 150, Character Coln 100 21 Mar 20.

Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2019, 09:45:23 am »
I think Simon Jones deserves at least a mention for devising the route.

Brakeless

  • Brakeless
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2019, 10:27:07 am »
I think Simon Jones deserves at least a mention for devising the route.

Simon definately deserves a mention, he was super helpful with our planning, answering our emails etc.

I think the route was actually devised by Mike Latimer. Simon along with 4 others first rode it in 1985 from London to Spain. It gets a mention in Mikes Obituary in the latest arrivee where Simon gives credit for the route to Mike.

I went through the AUK results page to find out more info about the ride. Records online only go back to 2000 so this is by no means complete, Steve P rode in Sept 2001 but it isn't listed on the AUK results pages so the following info probably isn't totally accurate but as far as I can work out since 2000 eleven riders are listed as having completed the route.

2002 - 1
2003 - 2
2005 - 1
2006 - 2
2008 - 1
2013 - 2
2019 - 2

Considering the rise in ultra distance cycling in the past few years I was surprised how few people have ridden it. Having done it It's nice that it's quite an exclusive club but it would be great to see more people ride it. I think Simon has taken daily GPX files from our routes so the info entrants receive now will be a bit more up to date. Although part of the charm was getting such a basic route sheet and working it out.

If anyone is thinking about it in the future don't hesitate to DM me if you want any info, it's a stunning ride and will give you two weeks riding that you definately won't ever forget.


Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2019, 11:19:39 am »
Sounds wonderful I only wish I could spare two weeks to go off on a randonee!  (I suspect the time commitment may be the main reason why so few have ridden it.)   

Have you thought about writing it up in more detail for Arrivee (maybe with some photos)?  Ged's starting to plan the next issue now and it would make an aspirational contrast to the PBP reports.
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2019, 12:29:13 pm »
Mark Brooking has a wonderful account of his ride in the 80s (I think).  It was published in Cycling.  He gave me a copy of the text some time ago, which is in a drawer somewhere.  Barry Parslow was also participating and had a somewhat eventful journey.

Anne Learmonth & Dave Lewis rode it north to south in 1994.

3peaker

  • RRTY Mad 31 up
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2019, 09:44:34 pm »
Ahhh, memories of my solo T-T in Sept 2001 as I approached retirement from the RAF. Albi was my biggest shock as no room in the city. Everywhere had been block-booked for Toulouse Airport, so I was resigned to a park bench. Reason?? The night of 9/11! I remember long days with early starts and late nights. The only time-line was the 16 days, so I enjoyed a comfortable pace. Spain was hot so a few siestas. The treat each night was the ½ carafe of local red to accompany the evening meal. Most memorable day was crossing the Pyrenees through Andorra with a late evening descent to Aix les Thermes.

No gps back then and a few questionable roads using large scale mapping. Madrid and Paris were pains to pace but certainly livened the otherwise quiet ride. Ended up escaping from the outside lane of the Periferique in Paris. But a terrific ride and fond memories.
Correction: for Periferique read Florencaine.

Anyone wishing to read my T-T report can find my 16-day account "Gift of the Moon" in Arrivee 76 Spring 2002. I can email this (pdf of the Article) if interested. It is dated - French Francs and  Spanish Pesetas, paper mapping, pre-LED lighting and short battery life.
SteveP

Promoting : Cheltenham Flyer 200, Cider with Rosie 150, Character Coln 100 21 Mar 20.

Brakeless

  • Brakeless
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2019, 02:51:51 pm »
Ahhh, memories of my solo T-T in Sept 2001 as I approached retirement from the RAF. Albi was my biggest shock as no room in the city. Everywhere had been block-booked for Toulouse Airport, so I was resigned to a park bench. Reason?? The night of 9/11! I remember long days with early starts and late nights. The only time-line was the 16 days, so I enjoyed a comfortable pace. Spain was hot so a few siestas. The treat each night was the ½ carafe of local red to accompany the evening meal. Most memorable day was crossing the Pyrenees through Andorra with a late evening descent to Aix les Thermes.

No gps back then and a few questionable roads using large scale mapping. Madrid and Paris were pains to pace but certainly livened the otherwise quiet ride. Ended up escaping from the outside lane of the Periferique in Paris. But a terrific ride and fond memories.
Correction: for Periferique read Florencaine.

Anyone wishing to read my T-T report can find my 16-day account "Gift of the Moon" in Arrivee 76 Spring 2002. I can email this (pdf of the Article) if interested. It is dated - French Francs and  Spanish Pesetas, paper mapping, pre-LED lighting and short battery life.

Your article is online Steve. A great read and definitely a very different experience pre GPS and online mapping.

http://www.aukweb.net/mag/I15NGgAg__StevePoulton_Sun_Sep_14_15_15_16_2003.pdf

Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2019, 04:56:48 pm »
Ahhh, memories of my solo T-T in Sept 2001 as I approached retirement from the RAF. Albi was my biggest shock as no room in the city. Everywhere had been block-booked for Toulouse Airport, so I was resigned to a park bench. Reason?? The night of 9/11! I remember long days with early starts and late nights. The only time-line was the 16 days, so I enjoyed a comfortable pace. Spain was hot so a few siestas. The treat each night was the ½ carafe of local red to accompany the evening meal. Most memorable day was crossing the Pyrenees through Andorra with a late evening descent to Aix les Thermes.

No gps back then and a few questionable roads using large scale mapping. Madrid and Paris were pains to pace but certainly livened the otherwise quiet ride. Ended up escaping from the outside lane of the Periferique in Paris. But a terrific ride and fond memories.

I think your write up at the time in Arrivee has always been at the back of my mind...

3peaker

  • RRTY Mad 31 up
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2019, 09:54:11 pm »
I think your write up at the time in Arrivee has always been at the back of my mind...

I rode the Raid Pyreneen in 1989 after reading an account in a copy of Cycling Weekly a few years earlier; that article inspired me to seek it out. Traversing 18 Pyreneen passes seemed an impossible target; back then I had never climbed an alpine pass.

I was serving in Germany at the time and led an RAF expedition. For training Shirley and I went to Norway for climbing. I took my bike and rode from the fjord base to a summit top at 1000m/hr. Then went to Switzerland for climbing around St Moritz. Did a big circuit of the Bernina as final training for pass climbing.

Our Raid Pyreneen was supported, so we could concentrate on the climbs. To qualify you have a time limit of 100hrs. With dawn starts and late finishes and sending the support crew ahead to set up camp, we achieved in 62hrs, 3 days riding. It's an incredible journey and well worth taking up most of the 100hrs!
SteveP

Promoting : Cheltenham Flyer 200, Cider with Rosie 150, Character Coln 100 21 Mar 20.

Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2019, 01:17:35 pm »
Excuse me for being thick, but is it 100hours riding and I can stop for dinner and a long sleep or audax style 100 hours total?

pdm

  • Sheffield hills? Nah... Just potholes.
Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2019, 02:30:58 pm »
5 days.

Start 8am day 1, finish 8pm day 5.

That works out at:
~160 km per day,
~2500m climbing per day.

So, doable...

Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2019, 03:04:54 pm »
5 days.

Start 8am day 1, finish 8pm day 5.

That works out at:
~160 km per day,
~2500m climbing per day.

So, doable...
That does seem doable. I may have to put it in the mix for next year.

S2L

Re: Trafalgar to Trafalgar Audax
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2019, 05:13:51 pm »
Excuse me for being thick, but is it 100hours riding and I can stop for dinner and a long sleep or audax style 100 hours total?

It's relaxed... from memory 170 km day one starting 9 AM, 120 km day 2 (aubisque and Tourmalet), then around 190 on day 3 (the big one), another 150 or so on day 4 and a relaxing 90 km on the final day, to finish by 1 PM.
Every night in hotel, meals, beer, breakfast, nothing to do with Audax as we know it