Sunday 8th March was quite mild for the time of year. Blue skies and sunshine in the morning until mid afternoon. Certainly good enough to enjoy the Invicta Grimpeur 100km audax. The start was fairly local to me and the off was at 9.30 am. This meant I got to have a relaxed morning and a big breakfast before I left the house. Nice!
The ride is one of a collection included as an eligible event for the Brevet des Grimpeurs du Sud award. This award is available to anybody who completes 5 rides of 100km or over eligible for Audax Altitude Award (AAA) points starting in the counties of Essex, Herts, Bucks, Surrey, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent and Greater London within the same calendar year (1st Jan to 31st December). It’s the second such ride I have done this year. The first being the Hills and Mills 100km audax on the 25th January. Though I never set out to do the requisite five rides I’m thinking now I may well do. I like a good hill. Certainly early enough in the year to plan in another three. We shall see.
There was a good crowd at Otford scout hut which was the ride HQ. 73 riders listed as having completed the route on the Audax UK website. It surprised me how many were signing up and paying their dues on the day. Not seen so many do so before. The modest distance and the early spring weather was clearly enough to tempt like-minded souls out for the day.
The route was split in two halves the Hilly 50 and the full 100. First loop went counter-clockwise and back to the start. The second loop went clockwise retracing the way of the first. Bit of a tease on the first 50km knowing that all the descents would become climbs and all the climbs would transform into speedy down hills on the way back round. First ride like this I had taken part in. The difference it made in going the opposite way round was more marked than I imagined it might be. Not just in terms of the ups and downs but also in the scenery and landmarks I noticed going one way and then the other. If ever you’re feeling a bit bored with a regular loop try completing it in reverse. You might be surprised.
The velominatus were a mixed bunch. Young and old, full carbon speedstars, tandems, trikes, conventional audax builds and then the likes of me on make do all-purpose machines. The typical low-key shuffling and chat prior to the off was the order of the day. Come the time everyone ambled to their bikes, saddled up and waited for the nod to go.
Taking up my self-appointed role as unofficial snapper I positioned myself to get some shots of everyone as they rolled off on their way. No rush to get going myself. I’ve learned to go at my pace and enjoy the ride and not push away at the front locked into an unspoken challenge to out pace those around me. I followed on with the last few stragglers to leave. I settled into a comfortable cadence which as it turned out soon had me passing by many of those who had left in front of me. With my camera hanging from my neck it was easy to snap away whilst on the move which I did gratuitously and without censure.
The hills were not insignificant. Either in number or elevation. Just over 6,200 feet (1,890 metres) of climbing in total.
The investment I’d sunk into my daily rides this year did though become noticeable. I was not struggling at all with any of them. Much of the route took in the same climbs as the Kentish Killers route I followed back in February. This time round I felt much stronger albeit the distance covered on this occasion was about 35 miles less. Not saying I power climbed any but neither did I run out of oomph. Pretty pleased with that especially as the last big lump was York’s Hill which is no. 15 on the list of 100 greatest cycling climbs.
All in all it was a very enjoyable four and half hours cycling. Quite a respectable pace – a tad over 14 mph average speed. That got me with the first half-dozen or so finishers. Not bad at all Turner!