audax: Wye Wednesday 200km

First of the qualifying audax rides for PBP 2019 done. Tom Jackson’s Wye Wednesday was on the 20th February. It went well. I was able to confirm no dramas to Tom’s question at the end. Bit more than 200km for me and my riding companion Dave. We both started and finished from our respective homes in Chatham. That made it about 240 km all done. 

The weather was unseasonably warm. No ice as there was in 2015 when it was last held. I rode in shorts. Glad I did. I would have overheated had I not. Climate change has so far turned February this year into early spring. The weather did us another good turn with a moderate south-westerly wind all day long. This made the flat section across Romney Marshes over to Hythe a rare pleasure to ride. The breeze also provided periods of assistance on the roads back from Hythe to the Cyclo Park near Gravesend.   

I enjoyed having company. As much as I don’t mind riding alone I equally enjoy riding with a companion. The miles melt away when you’re chatting and have someone to take turns at the front. Dave and I started together. I did though inadvertently leave Dave after only 24 km. This was at the info control at Seal. Dave stopped to write the answer down whilst I carried on, unknowingly without him, with the answer in my head.

We met up again after another 40km at the manned control in Headcorn. Dave was in the cafe supping tea and waiting for jam on toast when I arrived. A bit of unknown leapfrogging had occurred due to two unscheduled stops on my part. One to water the plants and the other at a bike shop looking for new pads for my rear brake. The shop did not have any. Anyhow it was just as well Dave did stop to write the answer. My recall of the date required at the info control was out by five years. We rode the rest of the miles from Headcorn together. 

The social aspect continued at Wye where a bunch of us were all held up at the railway crossing. Same thing happened in 2015. Not that odd really as I guess we got there around the same time as back then. There are such things as train timetables in spite of what experience may sometimes lead us to believe. 

It is a feature of audax rides that there are times when you do not see another soul for mile after mile but when you do come to a stop for 5 minutes or more it becomes apparent how close you have been to others the whole time. Lesson being if you do get a bit lonesome try stopping for a bit. Like buses a bunch of cyclist may all of a sudden come along at once.   

Another characteristic of audax rides which I have already referred to is leapfrogging. This lends itself to catching up with people met only on the road. There were several occasions when Dave and I passed a guy called Andy. Andy and I first met when riding LEL in 2017 and then again on the Bryan Chapman Memorial last year. Andy is a great cyclist, pleasant company and has audax heritage I aspire to. Whilst we passed by several times on Wye Wednesday the opportunity for us to catch up did not. Though not until the last eight miles or so before the end, we rode these together, shared stories and finished at the same time.      

Unlike in 2015, this year I did not bother taking a camera with me other than the one on my phone. Took just one picture. At the control at Headcorn Aerodrome. There were planes about and it seemed fitting that I should even if it was no more than a poorly composed blurry snapshot. The only thing to do with that then is a ‘artistic interpretation’ as such – 

The miles I have put in this year to date have paid off. My fitness is definitely on the ascendancy.  There was no point where I can remember feeling done in on this ride. Commitments and schedules meant I could only do a token ride the day after to keep the chain of rides every day this year unbroken. Out again last night for a regular 25 miler. I was taken aback by how easy it felt. In spite of the dark and foggy conditions I did my fastest ride of 2019. The miles this audax put in my legs and subsequent unplanned recovery day have both made me stronger. It’s all good.

The next audax planned in is the Oasts and Coasts 300 in April. I am tempted to get in another 200km in during March. I have a permanent that’s been neglected for a few years I could do and another that will be perfect for a DIY. We shall see.