Author Topic: Holland 600  (Read 16498 times)

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #225 on: July 01, 2013, 08:24:02 pm »
Blimey - I see why they store all the country's vegetables in the fields around Boston. Nobody there eats them. Asda seemed to contain nothing but fat people wheeling around trollies full of pizzas, ice cream, and beer. Except for the woman at the checkouts who reversed into me, and then took offence at me "being in her way" - she was buying 15 bottles of Champagne  :facepalm:. We feared for the lives of those who were later than us there - we managed to escape with our lives at around 9pm - those at Pubbe O'Clock must have had a much livelier time of it.

Our ride went mostly to plan. I was of questionable fitness going into the ride, having spent an inappropriate amount of time in the loo last Wednesday/Thursday thanks to lurgy/food reaction. In the end, that didn't seem to be an issue at all.

Thanks to Memsec for the organisation and especially the Colsterworth stop. It never seemed to arrive for one thing, rather like the Wood Elves episode in The Hobbit;  and having recovered from the shock of seeing an Actual Contour on the GPS map, I was generally non-plussed to discover a rude amount of Up to get to Memsec's woodland clearing. Having finally arrived, sitting in a warm, humid place, with assorted alfresco randonneurs snoring, farting and generally shuffling in the undergrowth behind us, was a truly New Experience. Marvellous  :thumbsup:.

We eschewed said woodland fun, and repaired to the Travelodge for showers, sleep and - rather to our surprise, breakfast boxes. Fboab booked the room (back last October it seems!) but couldn't remember buying breakfast boxes, but they were welcome nonetheless.

When we passed Hulver for the first time Sunday morning, he was slumped over his bike. We thought he looked like someone who probably hadn't had much sleep. I thought he was either doing stretches, or was leaning on his bike for support, about to throw up. If it had been me in his position, an overly cheery "Good Morning" from a passing tandem couple would have drawn a short and blunt response. Sorry you had to stop, Hulver - hope you can draw some useful experiences from the weekend.

The section from Donnington to Prees is decidedly choppy. We knew it was coming - and my internal geography dept figured it was probably the very southern-most tip of The Pennines, so lumps would not be inappropriate. On yet another climb, I duly worked the tandem down through the gears until I felt it was "right for us", but there were mutterings from behind. "Oh please, I can't do this Wowbaggering anymore."

"Wowbaggering" is not intended as a derogatory term at all. Wowbagger and Mrs Wow are very accomplished tandemistas who have mastered the art of climbing at almost 0 kph, whilst remaining upright. It has its place in tandem techniques - but fboab had had her fill of it. "If we were on solos, we'd be out of the saddle and grimping, wouldn't we?". At first, I was petulant - "We're not on fucking solos, are we?". But on the next rise, we gave it a go - and it was fine. Our previous experiences of honking on a tandem had either (a) killed the tandem (The Dean, 2012) or (b) been harder work than was deemed useful. But we persevered with it this time, and pretty soon we were honking up anything that was not too long. And it worked very well, by and large. We were carrying a lot of stuff in the bag, which made the bike wag its tail a bit as we honked, but there's no doubt we climbed faster. That said - my quads are not used to it - I can hardly walk this evening!

The headwind to Prees was a nuisance, but not exactly arduous - but it seemed to increase for us, just in time for it to translate to a tailwind up the A532, and we were flying along there. Shame the traffic was bad; close passing, passing on blind bends - you know the drill. Fboab was getting a bit shouty at them, but we soon left the main road, for roads made familiar by the closing sections of The Cambrian 600.

We encountered another tandem at Northwich; they were riding a black Cannondale, in matching yellow & black kit, and we could not hold their wheel - no matter how we tried. We tried so hard, we completely missed our turn, and as we consulted maps and options, we passed SRSteve who had also missed the turn, so we were able to negotiate a return to the proscribed route, and mostly complete the ride with his company.

All in all, a rather excellent weekend out. We have sunburn, DOMS, new experiences (we encountered a proper Bambi in the lanes, a teeny weeny baby deer with spots, looking most put out by our lights and those of the car that had just passed us, and managed to not hit it), and a few more points for The Cause. Thanks again MemSec.

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #226 on: July 01, 2013, 09:28:51 pm »
I've submitted my pics to Arrivee for possible publication

Count mine out thanks.

I've lost 15kg this year. In your photo it looks like I put on 15kg!  :(
[/flounce]
You can exclude mine, too. I look like a miserable fat fucker, and although that's mostly because I am a miserable fat fucker, I don't want it exposed to a wider audience!
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #227 on: July 02, 2013, 12:51:56 am »
I've submitted my pics to Arrivee for possible publication. As an audax newbie I don't know lots of names so it would be useful if people who do can identify any of riders in the Flickr pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/middleagecyclist/sets/72157634395273404.

You never know. You, or someone you know, could be on the front cover*

Cheers

*or tucked away somewhere inside


The front rider in photo 4 is Don Black, audax legend and aforementioned as the "jaunty-angled polysyrene helmet" by yanto in his  report.  the rider behind him looks as if he's in Transpennine colours and so could be Graeme McCulloch, if he was riding.  In picture 10, the rider on the Brompton is Nick Wilkinson. 

hulver

  • I am a mole and I live in a hole.
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #228 on: July 02, 2013, 07:38:57 am »
I'm the blurry one in the Yellow and Pink right at the back of DSC_1061.

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #229 on: July 02, 2013, 09:09:20 am »
(PART 1, Doo's experience)

Last weekend saw me complete the ‘To Holl and Back 600’ audax event. This was an event organised by Mike Wigley and as the name suggests was a 600k affair. By completing said ride, I also completed a Super Randonneur (SR) series for this season. Woo Hoo!

Prior to the event, I had booked at room at the nearest Travelodge to the start. A disappointing stay at the lodge – it looked tacky and my shower did not work. Worse still, my room had been repainted same day and smelled strongly of paint. To top it all, the breakfast was nasty! Was glad to leave the lodge and reach the start control (a car park) in Poynton.

About 70 plus riders were gathered at the start control in Poynton. I recognised a few faces but couldn’t spot Jamie and Andy (a couple of friends that I had cycled a few events with before). It took me a while to spot the organiser who was hidden in a corner of the car park. Glad I managed to spot Mike, he issued me my brevet card and had water (cordial) for my water bottles which I had forgotten to fill before reaching here. At 6 a.m.  I set off on this epic adventure. With less than 9k in my legs I had to stop – the puncture fairy had paid me a visit. This was my first puncture since changing my tyres to Vittoria Rubino Pro’s, which my buddy Chris Hodge swore were the bee’s knees! This was a pain in the behind! It seemed to take me forever to change this tyre and scores of cyclists were passing by. Whilst fixing said tyre, Jamie and Andy came and stopped by! Was so good to see these lads (had thoughts in my head that they did not start, or perhaps had crashed on the motorway). I suggested they not wait for me and hoped I would catch them up soon. With tube changed I cycled on. I was the guy at very back – but not for too long. I soon caught up this guy and we had a brief chat (about YACF names) before I left him and caught up the next guy. This next guy was dressed like a harlequin. Mr Harlequin did not appear to want to engage in any conversation (though am sure I spoke to him at the start) – I spoke to him but there was no response. Thinking perhaps Mr Harlequin was hard of hearing, I gave him the ‘thumbs up’ but again no response. I decided to speed on and before long I had covered 30k and was at the first control. Jamie and Andy were here and said they had only gotten there about 5 minutes earlier.

This first control at Greenfield was nice. A controller stamped our brevet cards and awarded us with really tasty flap jacks. Mmm, delicious. I was also ‘awarded’ with another brevet card that belonged to Mr Wobbly, a guy on a recumbent cycle who had left the control without it.

Leaving this first control was menace. I was faced with a big, relatively steep hill and had to sprint in an attempt to catch Mr Wobbly. I had only just met Jamie and Andy and now I was leaving them for a mission of my own. The climb of Saddleworth Moor was stunning and I had a good chat with a few folk during this ascent. Am pleased to inform that I successfully reunited Mr Wobbly with his brevet card, he was not too far ahead at all and must have left control only minutes before me. After reaching the summit of the Moor, whoosh – a spectacular descent of 9k all the way to Holmfirth. I must have reached speeds of just under 70kph. See – there is an advantage to extra weight! This part of the ride was perhaps the most scenic and I stopped several times to take the odd photo. I missed the info control at the 93k and instead stopped at Woody’s Café (am sure organiser said a receipt would be fine). I treated myself to the audax staple diet here – beans on toast. Just as I left this control, Andy and Jamie had reached here (they were bouncing this control and had answered info control instead) so I was able to cycle alongside them for a while.

It was nice to catch up with ‘the lads’ and I swear having a chat helps the k’s disappear quickly. During this section to Brough we were stopped by many a rail crossing (this was a theme throughout the entire ride) and at one point we were stopped whilst a ditched car was being recovered. (As with most of my post ride write-ups, I get confused at times and struggle to remember exact details so errors and omissions excepted). I cycled a spell on this section with a chap on a lovely ‘on-one fixie’ who was cycling in sandals (reminded me of Mary who has cycled many a Black Sheep event). Am sure dodgy cycle paths over single track (bridleway and gravel) were passed over before reaching the control in Brough. Am not sure when or where I had lost company with ‘the lads’ but I had another breakfast at Café Indulge with Mr Fixie. This time, I opted for scrambled eggs on toast.

Don’t remember an awful lot after my scrambled eggs but do recall cycling more stretches with Jamie and Andy. The next big thing I remember was a fish and chips dinner at Morrisons in Gainsborough. In fact, I remember being really hungry the 10k before and wishing I had more than just nuts in my pockets.

Jamie and Andy didn’t have a big stop at Morrisons and I wondered how they could cycle so far (about 250k at this point) with so little fuel?! I cycled the stage from Gainsborough to Wragby with the voices in my head for company and at most times they would discuss food. Caught Jamie and Andy up at Wragby and was almost blown away with the strong smell of kebab at the control. I wonder and would really like to know – did any cyclist actually purchase and eat kebab at this control?! I opted for Lucozade, sweets and a pint of milk.

The route from Wragby to Boston was ‘bostin’. We cycled in our group of 3 for this whole stretch and it was a real pretty section. We followed a ‘Water Rail’ path which was reminiscent of the Chester Greenway but perhaps prettier. A random cyclist kept informing me of alternate routes along this section which I thought was weird as he appeared to cycled ahead and then wait to tell me this information but followed self-same route as I anyway. It turned out, this random cyclist was not part of our organised cycle. During this stage we climbed Chapel Hill and then had an amazing dead straight and flat section across Holland Fen. Amazing. This surely must have been a road built by the romans. We flew across these Fens. My thoughts went to thinking about Clive (the Dr), a friend of mine who I am sure recently completed the ‘Flat out in the Fens’ sportive – I think and presume these were the same Fens?! After the Fens we only had to cycle a short stretch before excitedly reaching a McDonalds. What a welcome break! I swiftly devoured a Big Mac meal here and am sure Jamie and Andy had 2! (So this is how they fuel up?!) We left McDonalds after donning ourselves up in extra layers ready for the night section. At this juncture we were about half way!
I dunno why anybody's doing this!

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #230 on: July 02, 2013, 09:18:18 am »
I loved seeing the guy who was bagged in the middle of the field in Melton Mowbray: right in the middle of the field, just him and his bike, nothing else, in plain view of the householders!!  The police conspicuously ignored him (true as it happens).

Unfortunately, I reckon some of the houses at the top of the hill belonged to the Defence Animal Training Centre; when I passed at about there were a couple of military police standing over him whilst he packed up his bags...

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #231 on: July 02, 2013, 01:26:32 pm »
Leaving this first control was menace. I was faced with a big, relatively steep hill and had to sprint in an attempt to catch Mr Wobbly.

Ahem! No need to exaggerate old chap. But the idea of someone having to "sprint" to catch me on a hill is laughable.  I seem to recall climbing that hill as fast as treacle flows on a cold day.

However I was almost pathetically grateful you re-united me with my Brevet card.

Thank you again.
You're only as successful as your last 1200...

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #232 on: July 02, 2013, 01:46:36 pm »
My first 600, and had a plan.  Finish the first day between 1 and 3am, get 3 or 4 hours sleep, then tackle the next day as a 250, starting at 6am.  Mid afternoon, and it's coming together: feeling pretty good, and a couple of hours in hand over the maximum time.  I had a suspected slow leak in my rear tyre, so put some air into it.  Wobbly caught up with me, we rode together for a distance, but I soon felt a distinct softening in the rear (oo, missus!), so I made my excuses and went to attend. 

http://goo.gl/maps/UkTvY

As the grass on the edge of the road was long and soft, I flipped the bike over, and fixed flat (cause: strand of wire).  While I was doing that, the bike gently toppled over.  It did not concern me as the fall was slow, and the grass was soft and long.  However, when I went to replace the wheel, I found the rear derailleur was no longer attached to the frame.  On closer inspection, the hanger had come off the frame.  It should have been held by two tiny bolts, one was missing (perhaps never there) but the other was still there, and hopefully would be enough to get me to a bike shop, or even round the course.

Allen key - align them, push the bolt through, tighten, no not engaged, try again  <fumble> oops.

Did I mention how long (and soft) the grass was?  It was gone for good.

Knowing the Audax spirit, I took the chain off the chain ring, hooked it around the rear triangle, and basically got my bike into shape for wheeling.  I saw from google maps there was a village just up the road, so I headed that way.  Meanwhile, google maps also told me that there was a cycle shop in Brigg, less than 3 miles away.  I tried calling them, but they were only open Monday to Friday said a message. Got to the village, and a nice (actually lovely: see below) man asked me if I was ok.  Explained the problem, he wanted to help but couldn't.  Told me there was a cycle shop in Brigg - which had to be 7 days a week, I thought - and waved goodbye. I found the cycle shop he meant in google, called them but they were still two miles away and closing in 15 minutes.  Strangely they didn't want to stay open until 5.30 to sell me two bolts.  If I could get it to them in before 5 though, I could get it back monday or tuesday :(

Next thing, the lovely man from above appeared in what turned out to be his neighbours SUV ("he's out; he wasn't using it")  Off we go to Brigg, get the bike to the store, they McGyvver the hell out of it as they don't have the right bolt, and my new friend drives me back to his place, so I can resume my journey from where he picked me up.  And I still have time to get to Gainsborough before the control closes.

Thanks soooo much to John of Wrawbey, and the staff at Sherwood's Cycles in Brigg (just assembling my thoughts at thanking them via parcel force)

But there went my time in hand.  I got to the Horse Box at around 5.10, by the time I'd got to the Travelodge and had the most expensive shower of my life (and a 20 minute - to the second - nap), it was after 6.30. I got to the next control about 2 minutes late, and got a receipt 10 minutes late, it was probably all over.  However, I thought I could blag it - maybe - and headed off.  But I just died somewhere in along the next ride, not sleepy at all, just exhausted.  It was kind of a relief to be out of contention.  I got to the M6 service, ate 1/2 a chicken and a pot of tea, then huddle next to my valuable, and pulled a buff over my eyes and had some very broken sleep; waking to stare in confusion at BBC showing Glastonbury with the sound off and subtitles "Anger is an energy; Anger is an ...."

Eventually, I got up, and finished the ride at my own pace.  Despite taking 44 hours, I am happy that the with an hours unbroken sleep and no mechanicals, I would have finished with time in hand.

http://app.strava.com/activities/64204639

On the off-chance that anyone's behind me on the road I'd be grateful of you could stop and pick up the pieces as they fall off my bike...

My problems started just after parting company with Wobbly: Is this contagious?

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #233 on: July 02, 2013, 04:07:45 pm »
Never mind a couple of hrs over - you did 600km  :thumbsup:

Looking good for LEL me thinks!

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #234 on: July 02, 2013, 04:29:00 pm »
Wobbly caught up with me, we rode together for a distance, but I soon felt a distinct softening in the rear (oo, missus!), so I made my excuses and went to attend. 

I now feel like a complete and utter bastard for not stopping at the same time to check everything was ok. Along with the kitchen sink I carry the bolts you needed. :(

Please accept my apologies.

My problems started just after parting company with Wobbly: Is this contagious?

It's me. I'm toxic.
You're only as successful as your last 1200...

hulver

  • I am a mole and I live in a hole.
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #235 on: July 02, 2013, 04:54:23 pm »
Well done jefmcg. Even with your problems, you still finished in the time limit for LEL.  :thumbsup:

wilkyboy

  • "nick" by any other name
    • 16-inch wheels
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #236 on: July 02, 2013, 06:24:35 pm »
What a great, painful, soul-destroying, thoroughly enjoyable ride, thank you Mike!!  As an X-rated ride, this is one of the friendlier ones with plenty of opportunities to stop.  I didn't have enough sleep beforehand and I didn't feel brilliant on the day, so I was far less conversational than usual and fewer pictures tooken.

For the TL:DR crowd: good route, hillier than advertised, plan mostly worked, met new yacfers (Bikey Mikey (properly this time), jogler, jasmine (in passing), and others I am sure: good to meet you all), rode same pace as several riders, although different speeds.  Enjoy the pics, sorry not as many as last time.

For me, all the rides between now and July are preparation for LEL, except this time I was breaking in a full-size B17.  I wanted to experience the flatlands in June before experiencing the flatlands in July.  And I wanted to experience a full overnight, x-rated audax before experiencing The Flatlands in September.  Did I learn anything?  Yes: the bike weighs too much, I go out too quick at the start, I need to sleep!!

1. The start and around Manchester

A bit of an overcast start early on Saturday morning in a car park in Poynton just south of Manchester, 70-something cyclists and a variety of two- and three-wheeled machines gathered to do battle with the lump called Saddleworth Moor and the billiard table known as Holland Fen.

 


At 6am Mike (the org) quietly announced we could leave: no fanfare, just "off you go, then", and off we went.  My plan for this ride was the same as always: keep it steady at the start and try to stay in touch with the group, climb Saddleworth Moor steadily without honking, stay in touch with the group to Askern, stay in touch with the group to Brough, stay in touch yada yada yada ... and as always, didn't work out quite that way, mainly because of the headwind.  However, this time I had a train to catch, so I had a fixed time window to return by, otherwise I'd be staying the night in London under a bridge somewhere waiting for the first train home to Cambridge.

It was a brisk but not looney start: Bikey Mikey disappeared off into the distance and a group of us just made the lights at the A6 and right at the next set before they changed, including the tandemites ChrisS and fboab as well as the Peter-Cook-alike Wobbly (and all the other riders whose names/tags I don't know):

   
 

In fact that was one of the features of the first 30km: it was mostly through suburban roads around the south-eastern area of Manchester and the groups were broken apart by short, sharp climbs and lots of traffic lights.  It took yanto and his "orange blob" far longer to pass us than expected from the start and, because of the up-down terrain and a set of traffic lights, it was the only way I could stay with him (for about a minute).  Shortly after the lights turned green a minor disaster for yanto: he confessed elsewhere to trying to do to much in the cockpit and, as you can see in the fourth shot below, dropped his brevet:

 
 

I find the idea of a velomobile interesting: to my mind it's not a bicycle of any description, it's too refined for that.  It's also unsuitable for many roads because of its poor climbing ability (but then I know all about that on an upright bike myself) and don't try to ride it through a width restriction.  Yet under the right circumstances it's insanely quick, mostly out of the weather, allegedly quite comfortable, technically interesting, expensive enough to be uncommon and I want to try one  :P  From what yanto reported elsewhere, he had a better ride than I did by about 8 hours total and with an additional 3 hours of sleep!!  Surprisingly, though, I saw far more of the orange blob during the ride than I was expecting.

The ride through Mossley presented post-industrial dereliction and the mood in the weather didn't help at this time: it's a constant worry of mine for my kids that as Britain stops "making things" and continues to move towards a "have a nice day" service-driven economy, where's the real wealth-generation coming from?  There comes a point, surely, when we will all be serving each other and nobody will actually be adding real value into the economy and then it will take just one dark cloud and the whole economy will implode.  But then my name isn't Adam Smith and what do I really know about these things?

 

(That rider in the photo above I think is the same one who I spotted sleeping in a field just on the edge of Melton Mowbray, happy as Larry, in full view of everyone including the Police.  More later ...)

Those of us who had paid attention to the changes in the routesheet had spotted a shortcut around Greenfield by continuing straight on: it didn't save much, only 600m or so, but moved a couple of us from the back of the group to the front, and thereby to the front of the [short] queue to get validated at the first control, a short way up the climb onto Saddleworth Moor:

 
 

A very welcome piece of flapjack to go with the validated brevet and it was a few minutes' rest before the main climb of the ride up onto Saddleworth moor.  At this point Mike idly pondered on the noticeable lack of missing riders with a cheery "I'm surprised to see so many of you arriving here safely, since down there is where the Moors Murderers lived and up there's where they buried them"!!  :o  At this point I was at least 15 minutes ahead of my estimated schedule and that gave me a few minutes extra to mount the Moor without killing my legs.

2. Up over Saddleworth Moor

The climb up onto the Moor was straightforward "pick a gear and spin" territory and we made good time to the top.  As the road levelled I was able to click/clunk up through the gears for the flat section over the top.  It's pretty barren up there, but the wind was mostly behind us and I made good progress. 

 

The drop off the other side was a bit quick: I got crouched right down with my chin on the map board and elbows tucked in – I haven't seen any pictures of this, but I imagine I look more comical than I usually do on the bike!  The trick seems to be to optimise airflow and then keep everything very smooth around the corners.  A quick hand wave at the van behind to stay where he was and I swooped through the curves that Mike warned about at full tilt left-right-left taking the racing line, overtaking several riders who'd sat up.  I maxed out at 70kph, which was quick enough to bring my average speed right back up after the steady climb  :thumbsup:

The ups and downs that followed had me reaching for bottom gear several times and, in spite of my plan, gently honking some of the smaller lumps.  Apart from the bar tape unravelling on one side, which required a quick stop just under the viaduct at Denby Dale, this next section was uneventful.  The routesheet promised a summit of 280m, but it didn't really arrive as expected, as we were already fairly close to that elevation.

I rode with a fixie rider 10km or so into Askern, as he was using the original route sheet that had been sent out previously and didn't have the info control marked – another of the many riders I rode with whose names escaped me, but we got the job done.  I was now nearly half an hour ahead of my schedule, which itself had plenty of time in hand to catch that train.  A quick stop for a baked-bean pasty (!) in Askern and back on the bike only to stop 100 yards down the road at the railway crossing for what seemed like five minutes. 

3. The flatlands

From this point onwards we were looking at 250km of almost completely flat terrain, only a couple of villages on mounds to break the plain.  I wasn't sure what this would be like: I've ridden Norfolkshire and Suffolkshire and they're known to be "not hilly" but they are still not exactly flat; this was going to be completely flat and in places competing with the strengthening wind. As it turned out I needn't have worried, since the wind was rarely in our faces and was often on our backs and I made good time towards the Humber estuary and my legs still felt pretty okay.

At Howden I decided to take the scenic route, which would involve a bit of loose-surface bridleway, but was out in the country instead of following the shorter, quicker, busier, duller main roads.  This turned out to be a Good Plan, apart from navigation.  I missed the first turn because I had routed it incorrectly into my GPS (my fault) and had to double back and then the measured distances and marked distances were out by nearly 2km, so I thought I was now lost and about to break out the maps.  30 seconds of idle reflection and another rider came around the corner – none other than Bikey Mikey, who I though had been well ahead of me!  It turned out he'd stopped for a bacon sandwich (apparently causing the rear half of one tandem to subsequently demand the same of the captain!) and we rode together with another rider (no name, sorry, although pic below) through some really very quiet, lovely villages along lanes and bridleways all the way to the road into Brough.

 
 

At Brough Mikey stopped at a cashpoint and I wouldn't see him for a while.  I stopped at the Morrison's garage and bought too much to eat, weighing me down for the next leg (not that it made much of a difference).  I was over an hour ahead of schedule now. 

4. Over the bridge to a truly flat place

After Brough, it's straight to the Humber Bridge, which is a spectacle all of its own, and a turn south-westwards, meaning we would be heading into a headwind.  A couple of riders on the bridge: one who rode straight past and off, and one who seemed unsure what to do with the westerly path closed.

 

I made Gainsborough in good time, in spite of the wind, for another Morrison's garage forecourt feast: Jasmine was here in Scottish colours as I recall and rode off as I parked up.  Three of us sat in the sun out of the wind and had a leisurely lunch of cold pasty and milkshake.  I drank a lot of milkshakes on this ride following some information elsewhere on the forum and I have to say they worked for me in the sense that I didn't feel sick after, unlike sweet drinks.  However, I felt dehydrated for most of the ride, even though I was drinking both bidons dry between controls, and this has me a bit worried for LEL.

5. A red arrow to Wragby

The run to Wragby was quick with a tailwind most of the way.  I struggled a bit up the short incline at Scampton, as I could feel 230+km in my legs at this point and we still had 360+km to go, so I took it easy.  And I am glad that I did: a sudden roar and a group of four Red Arrows popped up on my left, then a few seconds later another four, and a few seconds after that the final two roared overhead, really powering along to catch the main formation.  It was absolutely stunning to be so close!! 

I had been riding between groups for a while – on the plains it's quite easy to see them even though they're miles away – but I caught one rider, Mel Kirkland, who I rode with again into Donington.  It's one of the things that sets calendar rides apart from DIYs and perms: you meet people.  Shortly afterwards a jolly "hello" and the tandemites bowled through, presumably baconed-up!

 
 

A brief stop in Wragby for a sandwich and more milkshake and then it was time for the main feature across Holland Fen.

6. Holland Fen

Holland Fen is seriously flat!  It's so flat that bridges are like mountains!!  And distances become foreshortened:  I could see a couple of riders just over there, but there was no way I could catch them!!  There had been a warning about the road being closed, and it probably is on a weekday, but not at the weekend, so we were able to pass straight through.

I followed this couple of riders for km after km, gaining slowly on them.  As we got close to Boston, some kids started yelling encouragement "catch him! catch him!" – I did eventually catch him, but only because of a red light.  Did anyone else think that Boston church could stand in for the Eye of Sauron?  Spooky.

 


A quick MacD's and a posterical-reapplication, and it was back on the bike for the final leg to the overnight stop at Colsterworth. 

7. A ride to a man with a van (and a loo)

I was really worried about this part, because now we were turning into the wind and it had been quite strong all day.  Fortunately it appeared to have abated a little in what was now late evening, so it was a steady run.  I was starting to get the dozies, so about 15km from the control I parked the bike and lay down on the verge – my first proper audax moment!!  And it was lovely: as I got down out of the wind I realised that it was actually really warm and I just dozed right off for 10 minutes.  I was woken by a group of riders passing and got back on the bike to ride with them and caught up with Julian on his Moulton: a lovely machine, proper long-distance little-wheeled bike, I want one (but can't afford one).  We traded notes on the ride to the control.

The control at Colsterworth was a forest car park, where Mike had parked a monster horsebox with the awning out over food, lots of calorific food.  And he'd set up a tent as well as laid out tarps and blankets for riders to get a bit of shut-eye.  I was lucky: as I was wondering which mat to sleep on, another rider relinquished a duvet (!) and I just lay down and went to sleep, without removing anything: complete with shoes, gloves and helmet!!  I didn't sleep amazingly well, or very long and I was back up 90 minutes later with extreme shakes induced by the lack of sleep and the cold air.  I wanted to make a good getaway, because the forecast was for light headwind strengthening throughout the morning.

 

8. Dawn chorus on our way to Donington

The sky was lightening as I left the clutches of Mike's hospitality at 3am, although we were still a good hour and a half before dawn and it was a lovely ride across towards Melton Mowbray.  In Melton I saw a funny sight: one of our riders, the one I photographed in Mossley I think, was parked in the middle of a huge horse-training field surrounded by houses in plain view of everyone!  I wish I had taken a photo, because it was a brilliant sight :)  A Police car turned around on the road just below the field where we rode through and returned the other way and appeared to be taking no notice of the sleeping gentleman, but apparently a short while later he was woken and moved on.

I've driven the road from Melton to Kegworth many times, and so it was very interesting to see it from the bike: the hills are steeper and bigger than you notice in a car and the scenery is just different: you notice all sorts of things you don't see from the car.  Yanto and the orange blob caught me napping as they whooshed past at Wymeswold: if I'd seen him coming I would have had the camera ready. 

At the lights in Wymeswold, I think, another rider started telling me he was about to bail: as I was so close to the edge of my endurance at this point, just so tired in the legs and so sleepy tired, I couldn't bear to discuss the possibility of a comfortable train ride home at the next possible opportunity; he seemed determined to DNF, so I left him to it and refused to discuss.  I am sorry to whomever that was, but it's not always possible to be civil and I will pay penance for that lack of selflessness at some point in the future I am sure  :-[

On the final climb through Kegworth up to Donington, Mel caught me up and we discussed the thickness of blood and whether that's a good or bad thing.  I am still undecided.  But I can say that after about 15 hours I can't get my heart rate over about 135bpm, even when honking my guts out!!  Does that mean I am fit or unfit?  Is it going to be a problem for LEL?  I dunno.

The stop at Donington took a little longer than hoped, but it was nice to get off the bike as the sun was rising and share notes on the ride so far, as well as replace old contact lenses with new.  As we were there, Jasmine arrived (with others) dressed now in Welsh colours and came out a few minutes later back in Scottish colours ... eh?

9. All this riding is giving me wind and making me tired

The wind was picking up now and the riding was becoming extremely tiring (more so than usual).  My legs felt like they had nothing left and I dropped back into survival mode, conscious of the fact we still had over 150km to go.  I got off and walked several hills that on Saturday I would have ridden up.  The dozies got me around Hilton and I had a quick lie up on the verge for 10 minutes until Big Saxon passed me again.

After Uttoxeter I had my eyes open for jogler's promised photograph opportunity at the "green triangle", and was passed again by the tandemoes a kilometre or two before that point, but when I got there, no paps.  Mildly disappointed, because I had stopped to comb my hair and apply makeup (that's not true), I rode on, only to spot a couple of VC167 shirts and a long lens pointing at me: jogler had decided to relocate and the tandemistas had stopped for a chat.  I smiled, I gurned, I farted, and I stopped for a rest and a chat.

After moving off with Chris and boab, I kept in their shadow for a km or two, but they soon dropped me, as I was trying to preserve what little strength I felt I had left in my legs.  That was the last I would see of them on the ride.

At the control at Stone it was a wave to Big Saxon as he departed and a quick Coop visit and back onto the bike: this headwind was killing my legs and hammering my averages to the point that I was now behind my original schedule and getting worse: on Saturday I had averaged 23.4kph moving speed, and on Sunday this had dropped to just 18.1kph; that's quick enough for LEL, but not by much.

10. Lonely to Prees with wind

The ride to Prees Heath was lonely: I don't recall seeing anyone else on this stretch.  I've driven the A41 through there many dozens of times and again it was interesting to see it from the bike as opposed to the car.  However, the motorbikes racing up and down was exceedingly unpleasant: to quick, too loud, too close. I chose the garage as a more expedient control than the café.

11. The final leg to home, tailwind-happeeee

The first lane after crossing the A41 at Prees Heath was immediately tailwind happy – wheeeeee!  Absolutely flying!  Couldn't be happier at this moment!!  And then we turned a corner and the tailwind became a sidewind.  And then the hedges got taller and whatever wind it became no wind.  And it felt like in the late afternoon the wind was steadily dropping.  So all that grinding into the wind all day long that should have paid back in equal measure was instead doing its damnedest to hold onto the debt, bastard!

In Nantwich I could stand the dozies no longer and had 10 minutes sleep by the river; BigS disappeared off into the distance.  Once I had navigated out of Nantwich I suddenly found my legs again and the cadence rose, along with the speed and I caught up with BigS just after Middlewich, where he had stopped to eat his sandwiches.  As we set off another couple of riders passed and we joined into a group.  Somehow I was able to maintain a fair average tempo and share the workload, which was a bit unexpected, given how my legs had been not a few hours earlier.  I tried to photo the riders with the humungous Jodrell Bank dish in the background, but couldn't line everything up: I was having to ride the bike and take pictures at the same time!

 

We came across an unfortunate incident at the junction of Bomish Lane where a car had collided with a cyclist.  The Police had taped the whole junction off, but allowed us around the edge.  The cyclist's bike was folded over broken in half and the windscreen of the car was punched in, so it looked like a direct hit.  No Carradice or anything else audax-like on the bike, so we presumed it was not one of us.  No sign of the cyclist.  Sobering.

For the final stretch into Poynton the three of us moved around, not really as a group, just in front of or behind each other.  The traffic got busier and, to be honest, a lot less tolerant as we got closer to arrivée, and I was nearly mown down by two drivers: riding in London is a far nicer experience than riding in the North West, perhaps because they've been working at it for longer: in Cheshire they just speed by too close and always assume bikes have no right of way, second-class road-users, etc.

12. Arrivée

A few abrupt climbs and the yump over the railway and it was time to get a receipt for arrivée.  I popped into the car park to see whether Mike (the org) was parked up, as he was after Llanfair PG 400, but no bacon and it was back to the NatWest for a withdrawal slip.  Then a quick 8km spin to Stockport station and the ride home (although I felt really antisocial smelling like I'd been on the bike for two days when crammed up against other people on the train, sorry!).

607km in 37 hours 17 minutes, my personal best. 4077m climbed (!). 20,000Cal burned (apparently).  123,000 pedal strokes (no wonder my knees are a bit sore).  More suntan on the tops of my knees, but my thighs are milk-bottle white  ::-)  My fastest 100km (moving only), 200km, 300km, 400km (moving only) and 600km in one ride!!

That's also my second SR series complete  :smug:

Looking back

Having finished the ride in time and largely achieved my goals I can say that I did enjoy the ride, thank you Mike!  :thumbsup:  The route is very good: a suburban, gritty start through the outskirts of Manchester followed by a stiff, but not particularly long climb up over the Pennines and a rapid run down to some lumpy stuff before the flatlands begin.  Then an unbelievably flat 250km before a few lumps to the horsebox-control at Colsterworth and some typically good Mike hospitality (complete with pop-up loo).  And then lots of Cheshire-sized bumps all the way back to the start.  The controls were well-spaced and none were too far apart.  The routesheet is esoteric, but accurate.  And for an x-rated event, this didn't feel at all difficult, and so should definitely be considered a good first x-rated 600 for anyone looking to step up.

My legs went away again after about 300km, but came back to me after a further 200km and the final run in was quick (for me).  I wonder if this is in part dehydration/heat stroke just from working hard in the sun, or whether it's something else.  I drank quite a lot while riding – about 1.5L every 3 hours – which should be enough, but maybe it's not.

I haven't ridden LEL yet, this is still my first season, but if LEL is anything like this then I shouldn't have too many issues with the ride itself.  There are aspects of personal comfort that still elude me, but I think that's at least 50% due to riding a bike that doesn't, erm, fit very well.  But so long as I can keep a measured cadence and not work too hard on the bike, I think I have the core speed and endurance now to keep up a steady 300km/day schedule, which would give me at least six hours stop time each night.

As for the equipment, the luggage systems I've bought/built work well: it's all waterproof, most things have a place and can be got at quickly (although not when moving).  The lights work really well and I had no complaints about my rears being too bright or annoying*.  I just got a new Nokia phone and I haven't charged it since Saturday morning and it's still at 40% 3.5 days later, so I think I can use a much smaller and lighter battery pack than I currently use and recharge it from the dynamo.  I still need to figure out the camera, because having it hanging around my neck is convenient when using it, but it's awkward to stow and retrieve it and makes me look fat.  I also need to be a bit more critical in what I carry in the bags, because the whole set-up is too heavy and it so needs to go on a bit of a diet (as do I).

I have a Garmin 800 and it did unpleasant things on this ride.  This is the first track over 400km that I've plotted as a single track instead of breaking it up.  That turned out to be a mistake, because the Garmin reported "Truncating Route", which looks like it means "I can't handle that many turn instructions for a single track", and so stopped giving me turn-by-turn at Nantwich, without warning.  So the final 50km were ridden against the routesheet rather than the GPS, which is fine now that I know it.  Otherwise it worked as well as always giving me live stats and logging the data for later analysis, which I find useful.  And I can charge it from my front light in just a few hours, or from a small battery pack in my front bag.  Now that I know all this, I can accommodate it: on shorter rides it's very reliable.

Fuller set of pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilky/sets/72157634429019379

* Please, tell me if they were.
RRTY #7 done.  Need something else to do ... ah, welcome #8 8)

wilkyboy

  • "nick" by any other name
    • 16-inch wheels
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #237 on: July 02, 2013, 06:34:14 pm »
Oh, and my quads really, really hurt!!  ::-)
RRTY #7 done.  Need something else to do ... ah, welcome #8 8)

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #238 on: July 02, 2013, 06:51:18 pm »
Oh, and my quads really, really hurt!!  ::-)

Curiously enough, so do mine!

We did a lot more honking than I'm used to. Clearly, my 85" fixed gear grade thighs have forsaken me. Time to do some training :-).

wilkyboy

  • "nick" by any other name
    • 16-inch wheels
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #239 on: July 02, 2013, 06:52:56 pm »
Oh, and my quads really, really hurt!!  ::-)

Curiously enough, so do mine!

We did a lot more honking than I'm used to. Clearly, my 85" fixed gear grade thighs have forsaken me. Time to do some training :-).

Can you do fixed on a tandem?  ;D
RRTY #7 done.  Need something else to do ... ah, welcome #8 8)

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #240 on: July 02, 2013, 07:00:46 pm »
Oh, and my quads really, really hurt!!  ::-)

Curiously enough, so do mine!

We did a lot more honking than I'm used to. Clearly, my 85" fixed gear grade thighs have forsaken me. Time to do some training :-).

Can you do fixed on a tandem?  ;D

We did 60km of Single Speed (104" gear) when we broke a gear cable. It's no fun. No fun at all.

ETA: BTW - That's Mel "Can I borrow a tenner?" "OK if I latch on your wheel for a while?" Kirkland in your Section 5 pictures.

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #241 on: July 02, 2013, 07:15:30 pm »

The stop at Donington took a little longer than hoped, but it was nice to get off the bike as the sun was rising and share notes on the ride so far, as well as replace old contact lenses with new.  As we were there, Jasmine arrived (with others) dressed now in Welsh colours and came out a few minutes later back in Scottish colours ... eh?

Celtic nations solidarity, innit?

The Scotland shirt has a full zip whilst my Welsh jerseys all have short zips - it's the difference between dropping your wallet and phone in the toilet as you smash your head against the toilet door and, well, going to the toilet in a civilised manner.

wilkyboy

  • "nick" by any other name
    • 16-inch wheels
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #242 on: July 02, 2013, 07:30:58 pm »
We did 60km of Single Speed (104" gear) when we broke a gear cable. It's no fun. No fun at all.

ETA: BTW - That's Mel "Can I borrow a tenner?" "OK if I latch on your wheel for a while?" Kirkland in your Section 5 pictures.

Ouch!

And now that you mention it I think Mel did mention he'd forgotten his wallet ::-)  (thanks for the name, btw)
RRTY #7 done.  Need something else to do ... ah, welcome #8 8)

wilkyboy

  • "nick" by any other name
    • 16-inch wheels
Re: Holland 600
« Reply #243 on: July 02, 2013, 07:45:05 pm »

The stop at Donington took a little longer than hoped, but it was nice to get off the bike as the sun was rising and share notes on the ride so far, as well as replace old contact lenses with new.  As we were there, Jasmine arrived (with others) dressed now in Welsh colours and came out a few minutes later back in Scottish colours ... eh?

Celtic nations solidarity, innit?

The Scotland shirt has a full zip whilst my Welsh jerseys all have short zips - it's the difference between dropping your wallet and phone in the toilet as you smash your head against the toilet door and, well, going to the toilet in a civilised manner.

Ah, I get the Celtic thing  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

The head-banging and losing stuff just never occurred to me ::-)
RRTY #7 done.  Need something else to do ... ah, welcome #8 8)

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #244 on: July 02, 2013, 07:59:44 pm »

I now feel like a complete and utter bastard for not stopping at the same time to check everything was ok. Along with the kitchen sink I carry the bolts you needed. :(

Please accept my apologies.
[..]
It's me. I'm toxic.

Oh yes, if it wasn't clear in my original story, the entire thing was ultimately Wobbly's fault.  At least he acknowledged it like a gentleman. 

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #245 on: July 02, 2013, 08:52:00 pm »
Oh, and my quads really, really hurt!!  ::-)

Me too, I did wonder if this is down to increased pedalling without a break on the flatlands? Been bad enough that I've not been on the bike since Sunday, not good :(

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #246 on: July 02, 2013, 09:26:29 pm »
mine also!

due to grinding up the shorter choppy hills on the return leg.

But, look on bright side, when pain goes legs will be stronger!

mikewigley

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #247 on: July 02, 2013, 09:38:35 pm »
Me too, I did wonder if this is down to increased pedalling without a break on the flatlands? Been bad enough that I've not been on the bike since Sunday, not good :(

No, resting after a 600 is a good thing.  I wonder if a proper stretching routine during and after a ride is going to be beneficial?  (Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors). 

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #248 on: July 02, 2013, 09:50:26 pm »
Me too, I did wonder if this is down to increased pedalling without a break on the flatlands? Been bad enough that I've not been on the bike since Sunday, not good :(

No, resting after a 600 is a good thing.  I wonder if a proper stretching routine during and after a ride is going to be beneficial?  (Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors).

I've found a hot bath followed by some quad/calf stretches very beneficial this evening.

Re: Holland 600
« Reply #249 on: July 02, 2013, 09:52:10 pm »
I've loved reading the ride reports and reliving the bit I managed as well as the bit I didn't (vicariously at least). Wilkyboy's report stands out for the detail and pics but they are all great. I'm giving really serious consideration to thinking about looking at purchasing one of those Nikon orange compact waterproof jobbies for LEL, as I've already decided my dSLR ain't coming along (perhaps we could share chargers at different bag drops Wilkyboy?).

Anyway, I'm now determined to complete an SR this year without using LEL as my 600. I will crack Holl and Back in September even if it breaks me.  :o
LEL & SR 2013. Audax mojo back 2019!