Wizard & Llamas Club Audax

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

 

This was the third running of the club audax although this time with some slight route tweaks on the return leg.  The weather was fantastic and the organisation was up to its usual high standards – so well done to Matt, Andrew, Graeme and the rest of the team.  There were well over a hundred riders, many of whom belong to the club, and most of whom I didn’t recognise!  The club has come a long way since I joined as member number 38 three and a half years ago.

The route followed many of the cheshire lanes with which I am now very familiar.  I rode some of it with Pablo and Michelle, enjoying the company and catching up.  The first cafe control at the Wizard was absolutely packed, so I didn’t buy anything and I pushed on as the road started to rise at Blaze Hill and up past Llamaload.

I stayed at while at the second “cafe”, the Harrington Arms, chatting with Graeme and then other riders as they arrived.  The ride back was mostly flat and downhill, in glorious sunshine, so I was almost disappointed when I reached the HQ.  A few pieces of the plentiful cake put a stop to that!

Brilliant day, really enjoyed it.

Ride Stats : 74.5 miles in 4hrs 17m at 17.4mph.  3,327ft climb, 3,375kcals used.  Average HR 135bpm

Strava ride here 

Wizard and the Llamas Audax

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

2935ft of ascent

The second running of the North Cheshire Clarion audax was another great success.  A really enjoyable ride with fellow clarionista’s around a scenic route and fantastic food at the end.  Chapeau to organiser Andrew and his band of willing helpers.  This year we shared the road with an MG owners club drive and the Manchester 100 bike ride.  It’s shameful that the car drivers were less of a threat to our safety than the idiot riders on the Manchester 100, but it didn’t spoil a great day.

Ride stats : 72.3 miles in 4hrs 12m at 17.2mph average.  2935ft of climbing.  Average HR 138bpm and 3030 kcals used

Strava ride here

National Clarion Race Championship 2012

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Four of us from North Cheshire Clarion rode the National Clarion Race Championships at Darley Moor motorcycle race circuit.  For Phil and I this was our first taste of racing, whilst Nick and Matt have both raced at Tameside Criterions.  The Clarions were well-represented – I counted Stockport, Nottingham, Saddleworth, Calder, West Lothian and Crewe amongst others, and there were plenty who looked like they meant business!

I rode round the triangular track to warmup.  The start line led quickly to a 60 degree left-hander and then a slight up hill straight drag for about half a mile with a tailwind.  A manufactured hairpin awaited turning into a headwind, followed by a chicane and then down to the next corner, turning into a sidewind, slightly uphill, a chicane and back across the line for another lap.

It’s fair to say I was very nervous about the race, particularly the pace and the cornering.  75 minutes followed by 5 laps is quite a long time at fullgas.  Half an hour warmup gave me a lot more confidence on the corners, even catching my pedal on the hairpin as I went round it too low.

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The time came to gather at the start line with the 35 other starters.  A bit of a briefing and the over 50’s were set off first.  The rest of the field then set off on a rolling start round the first bend and then off up the tailwind straight.  By the end of the straight we’d hit 30mph before slowing to roll round the hairpin and then power out into the headwind.  It was tough going and I quickly learned to tuck in behind somebody and stay there down the straight.  I kept a close eye on Matt, who with his added experience, was my reference point of what to do.  Nottingham had the most riders and made the pace at the front, alternating between strong attacks which upped the pace and then slowing the pace.  It’s very sapping constantly slowing then accelerating hard, and after 10 minutes I thought I would be struggling.  At this point Phil had already been dropped and I think Nick may have been too.  However, I hung in and I must have got used to it as it got easier and I felt pretty comfortable.

After about an hour I was struggling a bit with cramp but still sitting in the pack and moving through it as and when I wanted.  The course was wide, as were the corners, so it wasn’t as daunting as I expected.  However, the cramp was painful, my back was aching and it’s actually a bit tedious going round and round constantly!

At the 75 minutes board I made a massive mistake.  As we crossed the line and approached the corner and I accelerated early and moved quickly up the peloton. For most of the other laps the peloton accelerated out of the bend and up the tailwind straight.  This time they didn’t and I went flying past and found myself on the front!  The peloton shields you considerably, and whilst I’d been riding at 170-175bpm, my heart rate rapidly jumped to 185-192bpm.  I slowed but nobody came through, and at the end of the headwind straight I was shattered.  The pack then went past and I couldn’t hold on to the end of it – I was shelled out of the back.  It’s impossible to get back on by your self and I fell further behind.

I’m pleased to say I didn’t get lapped though, and came in in 21st place, with Matt in 19th.  Nick and Phil gave it everything too – kudos to them all.

Massive learning curve and hard work – which will all help towards my goals next year.  Kate took some great photos too so it was a really fun day.

Ride stats : 38.2 miles in 1hr 34m at 24.2mph average.  Average HR 176bpm, 1686kcals used.

Strava ride here

 

North Cheshire Clarion Awards

Most Competitive Rider

Earlier in the month I was due to attend the North Cheshire Clarion annual awards dinner.  Having set off in the snow blizzard it soon became apparent that we wouldn’t get there and back so I had to turn round and go home.  Which means I missed a great night – some details of which can be found here.

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Audax Grimpeur

Anyway, I was due to pick up some awards, which I got today in a spy-like exchange with Giles, the club secretary, within Evans in Manchester!

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Audax Randonneur

 

Hello Mow Cop my Old Friend

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I looked out of the window at 7-30am and was greeted with a traditional North Manchester torrential downpour.  And worse, the wind was howling through the trees.  Part of me thought, briefly, about going back to bed, but I knew that if I did I’d be annoyed with myself for the rest of the day.  And anyway, the ride was in Cheshire, and it tends to rain less there!

When I arrived at the lay-by where the club meets there was nobody there.  At least there was no rain but I thought I’d be off on my own.  As it was a few turned up but only one member, Lee, was up for the training ride.

The outbound leg was pretty uneventful.  The wind was behind us which meant coming back would be a bit of a struggle, but we made decent enough time until we reached the familiar level crossing at the bottom of Mow Cop.

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2,561ft of ascent

This was Lee’s first attempt at Mow Cop.  I’d warned him to save something for the ramp, especially as he was on a 34-25 ratio.  But off he went in front of me.  He’s probably 3 or more stone heavier than me so he must have some power as he made it to the foot of the ramp and then powered up that.  If you’ve never done Mow Cop before, it starts off with a steep section from the level crossing before getting marginally easier for a short while.  It then steepens again until you see the ramp and the 25% sign after about a mile of climbing.  The ramp is only about 100 yards or so before that flattens but it’s a real sting in the tail.  So big respect to Lee for getting up on his first try.

The descent was quick and exciting and we stopped at Congleton Garden Centre coffee shop.  They took a fair while to bring our order but I have to say the poached egg on toast was done to perfection.

One more decent hill out of the way and we turned towards home and into the very stiff headwind.  Lee was struggling a little now so tucked in behind me as we pushed into it.  About 10 miles out from the end the inevitable rain started, and my speed involuntarily slowed as the stinging rain drove into my face.

By the time we reached the end we were pretty soaked, and Lee had a fine splattering of mud that had made it past my speedracer mkII mud guards!  Unbelievably that was the first ride of this winter where I have felt cold.

Ride Stats : 61.78 miles in 3hrs 56mins @ 15.7mph average.  2,561ft of ascent, average HR 155bpm and 3,617kcals energy used

The Wizard and the Llamas – North Cheshire Clarion Audax

Despite changeable weather (and by that I mean wet), Sunday saw the inaugural North Cheshire Clarion audax.  The start was held at Lower Whitley Village Hall, with plenty of packing and a welcome selection of tea, coffee and breakfast awaiting the riders.

The route itself took us through flat Cheshire Lanes before heading over towards Macclesfield and the Goyt Valley and some hills!

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3032ft of climbing

The hills were made trickier by the wet conditions, especially a 20% section near Wildboarclough, and the descents were a bit hairy at times but it was all good fun.  Then it was a fast roll back to HQ.

The two cafe stops were at the Wizard tearooms and Gawsworth Hall, both of which were welcome, and with marshals waiting to stamp brevet cards.

My legs were suffering at the start so I ended up being towed by Anthony.  Bizarrely, after the hills my legs felt okay.

The selection of food and cake at the end was second to none and did the Clarion proud – many people pitching in to provide it.  The day was superbly organised by Andrew and his team of helpers and for a first event, even though I’m biased, it was absolutely first class.

Ride Stats : 72 miles in 4hrs 34m at 15.7mph average.  3032ft climbing, average HR 144bpm and 3737kcals energy used

 

Recreating history…

In 1929 cyclists from the National Clarion Cycling Club gathered in Lymm and the following photograph was taken

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Lymm 1929

Today, thanks to Bolton Clarion, a group of us from Bolton, North Cheshire and Stockport met to recreate the photo!

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Lymm 2011

Or if you prefer the colour original – can you spot me?!?

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Lymm 2011

Billy No-Mates!

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The last North Cheshire Clarion club run I went on was on the 5th June.  Since then I’ve been filling my weekends cycling longer audaxes but with August being PBP month there aren’t many on, so I had a spare day today.  I decided I’d do/run the training run so I turned up ready for an 8-45am start.  Unfortunately everybody else was out for the social ride so I had a choice to join that or head off on my own.  I wanted to get some fast miles in after last week so I decided to do my own thing.

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918ft of climbing

The ride itself was pretty good.  As a group I was superbly disciplined, the peloton flashing along the road in all my glory.  A slight breeze didn’t slow me as I took turns on the front  to drive the pace.  Too fast in fact, as I arrived at the café some 30 minutes before it opened, as confirmed by a miserable so-and-so at the front of the garden centre.  Faced with such excellent customer service I reluctantly decided not to wait.

The rest of the ride was unremarkable and I got a pretty good workout overall.

Ride stats: 43.15 miles in 2hrs 15m at 19.1mph average.  918ft of climbing, average HR 159bpm and 2167kcals energy used

Evil Fairy Rainbow Stars*

For me, the weather this weekend has been perfect cycling weather.  Some people prefer it cooler but I love cycling when the sun is out and the breeze is flat-to-non-existent.

Ade's Road Cycling BlogSaturday is my usual rest day but the weather was so perfect that I couldn’t resist and decided to head out for a blast round my usual 32 mile training route.  I’ve been doing this route for 2 years and yesterday I did it in a personal best of 1hr 45m, which is nearly an hour quicker than I was 2 years ago.  I was feeling pretty strong so decided to attack the hills and get up them as fast as I could.  The result was an average spped of 18.1mph which I was pretty pleased with.

Today I drove to the picnic site at Barley in Lancashire to meet Martin and Graeme and do a route plotted by Graeme.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

4,569ft ascent

 

The route took us up Waddington Fell and out towards Bowland, stopping in Dunsop Bridge at Puddleduck’s for coffee and cake.  Then down to Longridge before swinging left towards Clitheroe and back to Barley.  I have to say that the weather was beautiful and on days like this there is nowhere better to be than in the English countryside.

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In the past week I’ve been up Waddington Fell twice and the Nick o’ Pendle from both sides.  So much for thinking I wasn’t doing enough hills a few weeks back!  It was a really enjoyable day, with a great route plotted by Graeme and great company.  Absolutely loved it.

Ride Stats

Saturday : 32 miles in 1hr 45m @ 18.1mph, 1,849ft of ascent.  142bpm average HR and 1,413kcals

Sunday : 49 miles in 3hrs 40m @ 13.4mph, 4,569ft of ascent.  120bpm average HR and 2,477kcals

*You may be wondering about the title of this post.  Apparently, at the end of last weeks audax, Martin was so tired near the finish that he started hallucinating.  He described seeing different coloured fairies who would wave their wands and shoot rainbow stars at him.  When the stars hit him they drained his energy.  All I can say is who needs drugs when you can get the same effect from doing an audax!  Maybe Martin should do some more and start designing computer games too…