Tag Archives: Audax cycling

When a DNF isn’t a bad thing

Perfect road to ride by Andrew Gills
Perfect road to ride, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I think it happens to us all sometimes: the dreaded DNF. For me, that event was the Traveling South 400km Audax road cycle. There’s no exciting reason for the DNF. I didn’t have a mechanical breakdown, I didn’t injure myself and I didn’t have a crash. Nope – my body, mind and spirit all just stopped. My leg’s wouldn’t pedal. My mind wouldn’t let me refocus my thoughts. And my spirit didn’t let me fight through. So, after 160km of perfect riding conditions (except the strong head winds), I withdrew from the ride.

How my day ended

How my day ended

I was so exhausted that I didn’t even feel upset about loading my bike onto the roof of the support vehicle. Five tough months of racing and Audax riding, university and work caught up with me. All I wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep.

Now, sometimes I would just gut through and see this as excuses. But not yesterday. This exhaustion was different. I could feel the switch in my mind that I don’t want to flick. I could feel that I was on the edge of continued good mental and emotional health, and triggering a return to the depression and anxiety that used to be my reality. The warning signs were there so I made a mental plan: withdraw from the ride, take a couple of months off racing, get my diet back under control, take the time to work on my base fitness and skills, and go on some non-race adventures.

Sitting in the pack

Sitting in the pack

I learned a lot from the DNF. Firstly, I need to ride my own ride. While there were only three riders doing the 400km and one doing the 300km rides, there were seven riders taking on a 200km ride. They rode with us for the first 150km of the route. All but one of the riders got into a group and cruised along at a fast pace. I got sucked into the temptation to sit with them, not wanting to get dropped. It was a mistake – I ended up focusing on my speed and on trying to keep with the group, rather than on enjoying the ride. When I got dropped, I felt frustrated and slow.

Lesson 1: Ride my own ride; even if that means riding the whole ride alone.

Big blue skies and open country

Big blue skies and open country

By focusing on (and stressing about) my pace, I failed to enjoy the scenery. Here we were riding under big blue skies (albeit with a strong headwind) through open country and all I could think about was my pride. This is so different to my approach to previous Audax rides where I felt happy and joyful to be riding through the scenery.

Lesson 2: Focus on the scenery and let the ride take care of itself.

When I withdrew from the ride, I still have plenty of time on the clock. The checkpoint I was only 10km away from didn’t close until 6:20pm and it was still not yet 2pm when I withdrew. That means I had 4:20 to sit at the checkpoint, rest (maybe even sleep), eat and recover. While I wouldn’t have changed anything last night because I needed to learn the lessons that come with the DNF, I know in future that I can make the most of the generous time limits allowed in Audax rides.

Lesson 3: Remember it’s not a race; there’s plenty of time to change your fortune.

I finally found out how to carry my route directions

I finally found out how to carry my route directions

In a positive, I discovered a way to carry my route directions using one of my adventure racing map cases.

Total: 160km road cycle.

Lumpy 2 200km Audax ride

Scenery by Andrew Gills
Scenery, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

At 5:30am, the world is still dark as it rains cats and dogs. Five of us are crazy enough to turn up for the Lumpy 2 Audax ride on what has the potential to be a miserable day in the saddle. After a brief discussion about calling off the ride due to concerns about riders’ safety on the climb and descent from Mt Glorious, we set off into the grey dawn light, made darker by the cloud cover and incessant rain.

Here’s a video of the ride. It includes both photos and video footage.

We stay together as a group for about two kilometres before the two faster riders peel away. By the time we reach Mt Cootha, just 9km into the ride, the three of us at the back are all riding alone too. Over the course of the ride, the three of us will see each other momentarily but we effectively complete the ride solo.

I’m nervous about the ride. As part of the Polka series, this ride promises a lot of climbing. Mathematically, I’m not sure I can make the 13:30 cut-off, given that I know I’ll have to walk some short sections of the climbs. But I set off on the challenge anyway, deciding to enjoy the ride as an excuse to explore the world by bike.

By the time I reach the top of Mt Cootha I feel more confident. While it’s a challenging climb, I feel strong. A few kilometres later I realise that my descending skills leave a lot to be desired. I’m not the best downhill road rider in good conditions. In the wet, I feel like the biggest Gumby on the road; I’m sure my brake pads will wear out well before the finish. This feeling stays with me as I struggle to descend the other preliminary hills leading to Mt Glorious. I’m so scared that I decide to ask the ride organiser for a lift down the hulking mountain that looms over my home city; I rationalise that a DNF is better than a D-E-A-D.

I spend much of the first 40km of the ride too scared to enjoy the scenery. I’m sure that once we got out of the suburbs and into Upper Kedron that it was quite pretty. But all I could think of was how poorly I was getting down the hills and how stupid I was for setting off on this ride. I really got myself worked up into a tizz.

The turning point in my mental state comes when we reach the 10km climb from the base of Mt Glorious to Checkpoint 1 at the summit. I settle in and just start climbing. I feel comfortable up here doing what most hate: climbing. The slow pace of climbing allows me to really take in the sights, sounds and smells. Small waterfalls have formed on the high side of the road and their rushing fills my ears, along with the reverberating sound of bell birds’ calls. My nostrils fill with the sweet minty scent of lantana, a weed with deceptively pretty flowers. We reach the 15% grade near the top of the climb. I do my best but only make it about 1km up this stretch before I have to get off an walk. But I don’t mind. I was only riding at 7kph and my walking pace is 5kph so, in the scheme of things, I am not losing time and I’m still feeling happy.

Checkpoint 1 is a welcome sight at the 60km mark. There’s heaps of food, hot drinks and dry towels. The checkpoints on supported Audax rides rock. You can always be guaranteed of good food, cheerful company, encouragement and the little things like a dry towel on a rainy day.

I’m still scared about the descent off Glorious but I’m determined to continue the ride. So I set off in the rain and fog. We still have about 9km of rolling climbing at the top of the mountain and then the hairy descent begins. It’s only 3.5km long but drops about 600m, with sections of descent that are 22% gradient. My knuckles are white and nerves on edge as I drop down the first kilometre. I know that I should be relaxing into the drop, rather than sitting tense but there’s little I can do. I walk the second kilometre because it contains the sharpest bends and steepest gradients. It must seem odd to the cars to see someone walking downhill but I don’t care. I remount my bike for the final kilometre and reach the bottom of the descent in one piece.

I smash out the next 10km at 28-35kph, trying to catch back up to the rider in front of me, knowing that I’ll need to make up time for the slow start to this stage. The world flies by as I flatten my body down into the drops and crank out in a big gear. There’s one big hill to climb at the 90km mark before checkpoint 2. I hit the wall part way up but mentally tell myself that I have a choice: I can get miserable or I can sit back and enjoy the views. I chose the latter. Before I know it, I’m turning into checkpoint 2 at 115km to eat a heap more food, and enjoy the company of the other riders and ride organiser.

The third section of the ride is brutal but beautiful. The headwinds along the Clarendon Road that flatten the grass into a pretty ocean of seed heads also makes forward momentum hard work. But it’s worth the effort to ride through the contrasting paddocks of long grass and plowed earth. The Glamorganvale Road reopened today, making it possible to take a shortcut from Lowood to Glamorganvale. The downside is that the shortcut crosses two big hills and takes the shortest route: straight up and down. Again, I have to surrender to the need to walk as my legs run out of puff and my rear wheel loses traction on the newly sealed road, which is covered in loose gravel. The views from the top are amazing; I see where I have ridden and where I am going.

I am almost totally spent when I reach checkpoint 3 at Kholo Gardens (160km) but my soul is singing after riding through some amazing country. It’s enough to keep my body moving as I eat yet more food and set off to ride the final 43km. I have 3:20 remaining on the clock so I know that I’m going to make it.

The final section of the ride is fairly easy. There’s one steep hill that rises like a wall that I walk up, but for the rest it is fairly well just rolling roads. The gravel section of Lake Manchester Road is a challenge on my 23mm tyres but I get through it okay. Before I know it, the sun is setting and I’m riding along some of the busiest roads in Brisbane. It’s certainly a challenge to be alert to drivers after riding almost 200km but a challenge that makes these final few kilometres interesting. Besides, I’d rather take the main roads and spend most of the ride in the countryside than have to waste too much mileage on urban back roads.

There is no fanfare as I arrive at the finish. No big finishing tape or marching bands. The two men who finished before me are loading their bikes onto their cars and the ride organiser is in his kitchen making sure food is ready for riders’ arrival. I have ridden most of the ride alone and finish on my own. I have a shower, put on fresh cloths and eat some very delicious lasagne. The ride organiser gives me a special Lumpy 2 buff, which I think is just awesome! And then, I load my bike onto the ute (pick up truck) and drive home happy.

Total: 203km road cycle (200km brevet)

Fleche Opperman 24 hour team cycling challenge

Starting our day in the saddle

Starting our day in the saddle

8am. The five riders in our team pose as Sandy takes a pre-ride photo. Our team comprises: Sandy, who supported  us with delicious food, icy cold drinks and encouragement; Martin, who set the route and rode a fully tricked out randonneering bike, complete with gold bell and shiny fenders; Dino, who rode a single-speed freewheel called Frez; Rodney, who took up Dino’s challenge to ride the first 300km in a single gear despite having a full complement of gears available on his racing steed; James, who was the youngest in the group at 24 years old; and me.

Pumping along speed

Pumping along speed

As we set off, we had 360km of wide open Lockyer Valley roads ahead of us. Martin led the way and set a quick pace. Every time I looked at my speedometer we were traveling somewhere between 28kph – 31kph.

Lockyer Valley Scenery

Lockyer Valley Scenery

The recent rains and floods have turned the landscape lush and green. I made it a priority to look around and enjoy the scenery, rather than stressing about the long distance to the finish. This is a big change for me. I used to be so goal oriented that I couldn’t contemplate a long ride like this, but my new process-oriented view of the world allowed me to enjoy the scenery and process of traveling under my own power.

Country roads

Country roads

We followed flat quiet country roads for 70km to checkpoint 1. Along the way, we took a 4km detour when we turned right too early in a township. Little adventures like this are part of randoneering. After all, the purpose of being out on the road is not just to complete the challenge but also to explore countryside. We made good time to checkpoint 1 at Toogoolawa where Sandy had zuccini slice and hot cross buns ready for us, along with a mountain of bread rolls, lollies, bananas and salty potato chips. I was most excited by the icy cold can of Coke Sandy handed me. It really took the edge off the heat.

Rolling roads

Rolling roads

The roads started to roll gently after checkpoint 1. That’s not to say it became hilly; there were just some little lumps to roll over. The day warmed up significantly during this second stage of the ride, with the mercury rising to about 31’C (88’F). Our pace eased off for this 60km section as we all seemed to struggle a bit with the sun beating down off us and reflecting off the road.

Stopping for a flat

Stopping for a flat

This second stage saw the only flat in the ride. James was riding along in front of me when he called out the words no cyclist wants to say or hear, “oh no, I’ve got a flat” or words to that effect (usually with more expletives). I took the opportunity to take some photos as I waited for Dino and Rodney to help James repair the flat as Martin rode back.

Zipping along in the afternoon heat

Zipping along in the afternoon heat

Flat repaired, we set off again through the farmland. Our group spread out across and along the road. Without vehicular traffic, we enjoyed a rare victory: owning the road. We all had a chance to get to know each other as we enjoyed the team riding experience; something rare in Audax cycling, which is usually an individual experience, all-be-it a friendly one.

Atkinson Dam checkpoint

Atkinson Dam checkpoint

It was a relief to reach checkpoint 2 at Atkinson Dam. The first thing I did was stick my overheating head under a cold water tap. It was heavenly. While I was kneeling with my head down under the tap, Rodney was standing in the dam drinking a cold can of Coke as bemused picnickers watched on wondering what we crazy cyclists were doing out riding on a hot day. When we explained that we were riding 360km, they asked which charity we were raising money for. The looks on their faces when we told them we were just riding for fun was priceless.

Again, Sandy outdid herself by having an Everest-sized mountain of food available to us. She never once complained that we only ate bird-sized portions. Pasta salad was the feature on the menu. The cold pasta was flavoured with olives, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, and herbs. Sandy also had more bread rolls, hot cross buns and zucchini slice. But the best thing was the milo with milk. It was exactly what I needed after about 130km of cycling.

An endless road of opportunity

An endless road of opportunity

It was still stinking hot as we left Atkinson Dam and followed the endless road into the distance. We still had 230km to ride but I wasn’t scared about the distance anymore; I was in a rhythm. Sure, I knew there’d be some pain to come but I decided to focus on the magnificence of the experience. The sun still beat down on us, but it was now mid-afternoon so I knew the heat would ease off in a few hours.

James eyeing off the sprinkler

James eying off the sprinkler

It was so hot some of the boys took advantage of an irrigation sprinkler and waited until it sprayed water over the road to cool themselves off. I decided not to risk the sprinkler water being infused with the chicken manure that was loaded in a truck right next to it. Instead, I stopped at a flowing creek later and washed some water over my head. In hindsight, the creek would have been polluted with agricultural fertlisers and manures anyway, so I might as well have stood under the sprinkler.

Dino and Rodney rolling down the hill

Dino and Rodney rolling down the hill

Martin rolling down the hill

Martin rolling down the hill

Suffering a little bit

Suffering a little bit

I think we were all suffering in the heat during the third stage of the ride but we were still in good spirits. My legs ran out of fuel during this stage. While I had some oat bars in my frame bag, I couldn’t bring myself to eat them so I relied on jelly snakes instead. This was a bit of a mistake. The snakes burned quickly, rather than satisfying me. The other thing was that the snakes weren’t that easy to reach in my frame bag. This was a big lesson that I will take away from the ride: always take solid slow-burning fuel with me and to store it in my jersey pocket where it’s more easily accessible.

Sandy in the support vehicle

Sandy in the support vehicle

Sandy drove past a few times during the ride, always waving or beeping to encourage us along. She had these great Audax Australia magnets made up for the car. The ride simply wouldn’t have been possible without Sandy’s selfless commitment to making us all comfortable. She and Martin even let us all sleep at their home after 300km and then didn’t complain after we left without tidying up our beds or the checkpoint supplies.

Entering crop country

Entering vengetable country

More crops

More vegetables

As the shadows lengthened we rode through fields of vegetable crops. The Lockyer Valley is one of Australia’s biggest food-growing regions. We rode through fields of pumpkins, onions, peas and other vegetables. Rainbows formed around the sprinklers and the air was filled with the scents of farming: soil, manure and cut grass.

We reached checkpoint 3 at Ma Ma Creek as dusk fell. We’d ridden about 190km. The shop was still open so we all bought ice blocks and ice creams. Just one Frosty Fruit wasn’t enough; I treated myself to two fruity cold treats. Sandy had more food for us, including more Milo with milk. I took some zucchini slice with me for the next leg of the ride, which proved to be a fantastic success; I was able to keep the nutrition up instead of waiting until checkpoints so the ’empty legs’ feeling didn’t return.

Darkness falls (Martin's light is visible)

Darkness falls (Martin’s light is visible)

Riding into the long night hours

Riding into the long night hours

Darkness fell as we left Ma Ma Creek. The sunset behind us was beautiful; the red sky signalling the end of a beautiful day on the bike and the start of the cooler night hours. For the next six hours, our world was reduced to the twinkling stars above, the tunnel of road our headlights lit up and the reflection of our team mates’ high visibility vests. Occasionally, powerful scents such as lucern or night jasmine hinted at the landscape we were riding through.  There was little traffic and we were often able to spread out two-abreast. I kept looking up at the stars and sliver of moon.

As a team, the ride from Ma Ma Creek to Mulgowie was a bit of a low point. The call of the 300km sleep stop was strong but we were all at different stages of fatigue and couldn’t agree on a course of action. It’s not that there was real conflict; we just went through the normal challenge that occurs in team-based endurance activities; particularly where the team is pulled together on the day of the event, rather than a team who regularly train together. But we made it to Mulgowie to find Sandy has set up a delightful checkpoint, including camp lights and chicken noodle soup. We all took the opportunity to rest and recover as much as we could.

Before leaving Ma Ma Creek, Sandy asked us whether we needed anything. She was going to stop to buy more milk so I asked whether she might be able to see whether she could get an apple because I was craving one. Believe it or not, the take away shop Sandy stopped at was able to supply her with two delicious sweet crunchy apples. I put one in my pocket at Mulgowie and enjoyed eating is as I rode (I find it easier to eat as I ride, rather than while sitting still at the checkpoints).

From Mulgowie we rode into Gatton and on to our sleep stop at Sandy and Martin’s place in Lowood. The climb up the hill to Sandy and Martin’s house was a tough challenge. After showers and more food (toasted sandwiches have never tasted better), we all crashed on the various beds that had been prepared for us.

I was deep in sleep when Sandy woke us. She’s amazing, is Sandy. She’d had as little sleep as us riders but still managed to look after us until about 1:30am and then get us up at 4:00am to ride again. She put up with our complaints, made us various breakfasts, answered our every whim and kicked us out on the road so that we could ride the final 70km to the finish.

We rolled down the road into the darkness. Mathematically, we had to average 23kph to complete the ride in the allowable time and our pace was certainly not this fast we we left Lowood for one last tour through the Lockyer Valley and into Ipswich. Here’s the thing about mathematics: it doesn’t account for the power of guts and determination. Nor for the way the rising sun affects a group of cyclists’ speed.

Reaching Talengalla Hill in daylight

Reaching Talengalla Hill in daylight

Enjoying a well-earned rest at the top of Tallengalla Hill

Enjoying a well-earned rest at the top of Tallengalla Hill

Rodney reaching the summit of Tallengalla Hill

Rodney reaching the summit of Tallengalla Hill

Martin reaching the summit of Tallengalla Hill

Martin reaching the summit of Tallengalla Hill

At 6am we stopped in Marburg to complete our brevet cards with our 22 hour details. We’d covered 319km and still had about 45km to ride to the finish line within two hours. And we still had to climb Tallengalla Hill, which loomed ahead. Autumn is starting and the ride up the hill took us through a pretty fog. While Dino and James attacked the hill, the rest of us sat back to grind up.  We all made it up the hill and then raced down the other side towards our goal.

Perking up for the final push

Perking up for the final push

With less than 40km to ride, we all perked up and started to make good time. We rode a full 5km stretch at 28kph-30kph, which saw us come to the 335km mark. Occasionally we passed cyclists coming from the other direction; some in pairs or small groups and others in peletons. I couldn’t help but feel proud to have ridden through the night while they were just setting out after a full night sleep. It was as though we had experienced something slightly different and privileged.

Dino and Rodney getting some downhill speed

Dino and Rodney getting some downhill speed

Rodney and Dino must have been feeling good as we neared the finish line because they had one last run in their single speed downhill poses, dropping their heads and raising their backsides to the air in a strange solute to the sun.

We arrived at Brother’s Leagues Club Ipswich at 7:56am, having covered 366km just 4 minutes shy of the cut-off. Together, our team was successful at completing the 2013 Fleche Opperman Challenge. Our success was the result of all the little things each rider and Sandy did along the way; from route-setting to navigation (thank you Martin for keeping us on the right track), taking turns on the front of the group to calling out obstacles, and the important task of supporting the whole team.

Personally, the ride represented a big confidence boost, especially after the long period of incapacitation I experienced from August to December last year. The farthest I had ridden previously was 202km at the Moonlight Wander in February. This 366km ride was a big step up but proves that the only limits to human achievement are those that we place on ourselves; remove the self-imposed limits and anything is possible.

Total: 366km road cycle.

MYO handlebar bag

'Free' homemade handlebar bag

‘Free’ homemade handlebar bag

While I bought a saddle-mounted Carradice bag off the internet, I still wanted a way to carry my waterproof, wind vest and high visibility vest on tomorrow’s Fleche Opperman 24 hour challenge. But I didn’t want to spend any more money. So I made myself a handlebar bag. And it cost me about fifty cents in cotton thread. It’s so simple that anyone can do it.

 

1. Cut the lid off an old backpack and remove the lid's webbing and buckles

1. Cut the lid off an old backpack and remove the lid’s webbing and buckles

Take any old backpack that has a decent sized pocket in the lid. Don’t use your favourite hiking pack; just grab something that you never use anymore or go to your local thrift or opportunity shop to buy something super cheap (<$5). Here’s a hint: you’re going to be destroying the bag.

Cut the lid off the bag, retaining the buckle clips. Then remove the webbing and buckles that clip into the lid from the backpack (i.e. remove from backpack, not from lid).

2. Carefully remove the shoulder webbing

2. Carefully remove the shoulder webbing

Remove the webbing from the shoulder straps of the backpack. Not the foam but the webbing.

3. Sew the webbing onto the lid

3. Sew the webbing onto the lid

Sew the two webbing straps with buckles together. Then sew the straps with buckles horizontally across the outside of the lid. These will connect the bag to the handlebars by clipping into the buckle clips on the lid, which will be the lower part of the handlebar bag. My backpack lid has some D-rings on it so I used them to force the straps to stay in place. You could also sew them onto the edges of the lid instead.

If you had to cut the shoulder straps, sew each of them together. Then sew them onto the bag lid vertically. You will use these to cinch in the handlebar bag to hold it’s weight and keep it off the brake and gear cables. I sewed mine so that the webbing runs between the D-rings and sewn sections of the webbing with buckles. This will stop the webbing from slipping off the side of the handlebar bag.

This is how it looks after sewing

This is how it looks after sewing

This is how the lid of my old backpack looks after I have sewn the webbing on. I am holding the webbing with buckles. The other pieces of webbing are the shoulder straps.

The lid zip is the bag opening

The lid zip is the bag opening

The zip on the lid of the old backpack will become the zip on the handlebar bag opening. My old backpack lid was so old I had to do some sewing to reinforce the lid and zip.

4. Attach the lid to the handlebars using the lid buckles and webbing

4. Attach the lid to the handlebars using the lid buckles and webbing

The sewing is now complete and you are ready to mount your new handlebar bag. Place the lid buckle clips on the lower front section of the handlebar bag then wrap the buckle clips around behind the handlebars and clip them into the buckles that you have just sewn on. Cinch in the straps so it sits firmly.

5. Cinch the lid into place with the shoulder straps - cross them so that they don't move

5. Cinch the lid into place with the shoulder straps – cross them so that they don’t move

Wrap the old shoulder straps around the handlebars and cinch them in to take up the weight of the bag. This will prevent the handlebar bag from placing weight on the brake cables. I crossed my webbing straps so that the one sewn on the left went on the right of the stem and v.v. This way the straps will provide more support through the middle of the bag.

This bag doesn't take up much handlebar real estate

This bag doesn’t take up much handlebar real estate

The final bag doesn’t take up much real estate because the webbing is flexible. You can also still use your handlebar mounted headlights (this is where this simple design differs from  a commercial handlebar bag).

My road bike ready for tomorrow's Audax

My road bike ready for tomorrow’s Audax

The handlebar bag will sit narrow and low on the front handlebars. It’s large enough to hold a waterproof, wind vest, high visibility vest and space blanket. You have to stop to access it, so it’s not as convenient as a commercial bag. But it’s still easy to access everything because you just uncinch the tightening straps and unclip the buckles to gain access; you don’t have to totally remove the bag. To close, you just zip it back up and recinch the four straps.

My bike is ready for tomorrow’s 369km ride. I have my ankle straps wrapped around the frame, frame pump attached to my left side front fork (that’s the verge-side here in Australia), food and cell phone in the top-tube bag, and food and spares in my seat post bag.

Ooh only 16 hours to go :)

It’s only 16 hours until the Fleche Opperman 24 hour team cycling challenge starts. I haven’t been this excited about an event in ages. And it’s only an hour until I can go home from work to pack my gear and give my bike one final clean before the ride (I can’t believe I’ve turned into one of those guys who actually cleans his bike, but I have an my bike is so much nicer to ride for it).

I have Scouts tonight so at least I will have something to keep my mind occupied for a few hours. Otherwise I fear I would over-prepare ;).

In other news, I have bought myself a Carradice SQR Slim Bag from Wiggle. The bag is expected to be ready for shipping in April so I should receive it just as the weather really cools down (weather really cooling down is relative though 😉 ). I expect it will revolutionise my riding because I currently don’t ride much if it’s too cold or too wet. This way, I will be able to carry my fleece, wind vest or waterproof without being stuck wearing it the whole ride or carrying a backpack.

Total: Another full day of rest with stretching.

Nervousness is setting in

In case you haven’t guessed, I like to push the boundaries of my endurance. Actually, I just like to push boundaries full stop. I ride life like it’s a runaway train.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes get nervous about the crazy stuff I sign myself up for.

This weekend, I am going to be totally audacious. I have signed up to ride in the Audax Australia Fleche Opperman 24 hour team cycling challenge. The challenge requires teams to ride a minimum of 360km in 24 hours as a team (i.e. not as a relay). Teams set their own routes but:

  • must finish at the designated finish location (for South-East Queensland, this is the Ipswich Brothers’ Leagues Club)
  • the route must not travel down the same roads in the same direction more than once because the idea is to simulate cycle touring
  • each team member must ride at least 25km in the final 2 hours of the 24 hour window.

The team I joined will be attempting to ride 369km within the allowable time. I’ve never been beyond the 200km mark so this will be entirely new territory. I don’t know how to prepare for Saturday’s adventure.

  • I don’t know whether I should just take the whole week off exercise and get loads of calories into me (I’ve estimated I’ll be burning 11,000 – 14,000 calories during the event). Or whether I should still keep doing some light training until the event.
  • And what should I carry with me to eat during the event? I mean, how does one carry 11,000 – 14,000 calories in jersey pockets?
  • And what if it rains overnight? I don’t own any wet weather gear for cycling; I don’t even own a wind vest (though I think I’ll pick one of them up this week).

Audax cycling is all about being audacious. And it suits my life motto:

For every success, a thousand failures forgotten lie. For every failure to try, a thousand successes prematurely die. (Anon)

This is a huge challenge for me. It’s a real adventure into the unknown. I’m excited … but I’m equally nervous about what this unknown will bring.

If anyone has any practical tips about how I should approach the event, I’m certainly open to all suggestions.

Saturday’s Audax ride has been cancelled

Unfortunately, the 200km Audax ride I was going to do on Saturday has been postponed / cancelled again due to dangerous road conditions. Some roads along the course are still closed due to flooding and many others still have debris and fallen trees scattered on them, mostly in the emergency stopping lanes / bike lanes.

I’m still toying with the idea of doing a 200km ride on my own along a different route that shouldn’t be as badly affected by last weekend’s storms. But I have also invited Mum kayaking, so I’ll see which activity eventuates.