Last week, while browsing the local paper, I saw an article about a long distance bike ride starting on Saturday at 07:00hrs from Wolverley. Who does these things called Audax? I decided that I would get up early, and do a pre-breakfast ride to find out more, and see for myself.I expected to see a few old duffers on ancient bikes, wearing breeches. Well, I was wrong, there were hundreds of riders, all ages and sizes, riding everything from expensive race bikes to recumbents. I got chatting to a couple of them, and they told me that the ride would take them out into Wales, over some tough mountain roads. The ‘fast’ men would be back early evening, while the cut-off time was 03:00hrs on Sunday! They went on to tell me that this event was a ‘classic’ in the Audax calendar, and that riders had travelled from all over the country to take part…
At 07:00 sharp the first group set off. I tagged on the back. My idea was to follow them out for half an hour or so, then peel off and ride a nice little loop before going home for breakfast. The early morning sun shone on our backs as we headed west, and it didn’t take long to warm up. I was suprised at the pace. Suspecting it to be ‘dog off the lead’ syndrome I continue to tag along. As we hit the first hills the size of the group diminished, but a hardcore of twenty or so bowled along taking it all in their stride.
These boys knew how to ride. Two lines tempo, as if they knew no other way. The climb up to Clows Top finished me off. I decided to turn off, I was far too hot by now, and breathing very heavily, but then, I was riding my mountainbike (excuse). I rested for a while to watch some of the other groups go through, all headed off for their adventure in Wales. It was such a beautiful morning, I sort of wished I was going with them.
I retuned home via Wyre Forest, not a soul about, a gift of a morning. With two hours riding under my belt I was back, and ate Saturday breakfast. The rest of the day was spent gardening, bike fettling, and generally taking it easy. Every now and then I wondered how the Audax riders were getting on.
In the evening we headed off to Ludlow for a bike ride with Dave Pearce. Dave took us on a tough two hour ride, through the forest, he was feeling good, I could tell by the way he was forcing the pace. My total ride time for the day was four hours, and I enjoyed a couple of tins of strong beer with some pizza at Dave’s. A great end to a great days riding.
Carla drove us home, and I dozed. It was about 10:30 pm as we approached Wolverley, but I was miles away where half asleep meets half awake. Then, up ahead, some red lights, not a car, a group of cyclists. I had forgotten all about them, but there they were, some of the audax riders on the last miles to home. There were more, in small groups, two or threes, and as we passed the Memorial Hall which served as the event HQ the lights were on to welcome them home.
Heroes or madmen? You decide, but I thought they looked magnificent. I wished I had been one of them. I searched the internet, and found their website (http://www.audax.uk.net). Maybe I will one day soon.