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Fresh from being bad at a 600km audax, Dave's taking on a 400km charity ride

Recently I tried to complete the 600km Bryan Chapman Memorial Audax, and messed it up. Everyone loves a tryer, though, right? My next challenge is a 400km charity ride. What have I learnt?

You won't have heard of the Pier to Pier, because we made it up. A while back my friend Andy had a brain tumour removed and was told it would be back to finish him off in a couple of years; more than six years later he's still going strong, and every year he sets himself a challenge to make the most it, and to raise money for Brain Tumour Research. Last year he did the 80-mile Bike Bath sportive, and then RideLondon. This year he wanted a bigger challenge. So, we dreamt this up.

We're starting at the pier in Weston Super Mare and riding across the country, aiming to be at the pier in Walton on the Naze 24 hours later. It's almost exactly 400km. Here's the route.

> Live tracking on Strava

PIER TO PIER route

PIER TO PIER route

Anyway, I messed up the BCM, so what did I learn? Well, to take it easy is one thing. Luckily Andy's not as quick as me, and we'll be going at his pace, so that'll rein me in. There's only three of us doing the ride, with me and Dan acting as a rolling windbreak for Andy for the majority of it. 24 hours is doable; it might take us a wee bit longer. I've been super-organised and made a timings spreadsheet, and everything, something I wish I'd done for the Bryan Chapman. How well we'll stick to it, who knows. I'm doing it as a DIY Audax; it was supposed to be part of my Super Randonneur series (200km, 300km, 400km and 600km) although that's gone south a bit with my Bryan Champan DNF. Under Audax rules, we have about 27 hours, although we don't really want to be riding into the night on the second day...

I also learned I need to be more careful with what I'm eating and drinking, as it seems I'm prone to be sick in a hedge on long rides. So I've been reading around that a bit and looking to make some changes. There are some things I habitually do on long rides – taking ibuprofen, for example – that seem to be triggers for stomach issues, so I'll take on board the advice I've found and see if it helps. We're lucky to have friends kind or daft enough to run a support vehicle for the ride, so at least if we get into trouble help won't be far away.

Anyway, I'll stick the Strava beacon on here in a comment when we set off so you can follow along. And if you live anywhere near the route and want to ride along with us for a bit, do feel free. it'll probably be especially welcome towards the end, Essex folk. Although we won't be going that fast, so don't expect too much of a workout.

And chuck Brain Tumour Research a few quid too. Cheers!

> Live tracking on Strava  

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

15 comments

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peted76 [1142 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Ah good luck Dave, sounds ace fun!

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StraelGuy [1510 posts] 3 months ago
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Good luck on the ride Dave. You're right to avoid ibuprofen as it's notoriously hard on the stomach, it's the one painkiller you really should only take with food.

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alotronic [575 posts] 3 months ago
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Don't tell anyone about the support vechicle, I think if it follows you then it's not Audax - ok to meet it at points on the way  1 Looks like a great ride, prevailing wind! Nicely planned, good luck.

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dave atkinson [6396 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

alotronic wrote:

Don't tell anyone about the support vechicle, I think if it follows you then it's not Audax - ok to meet it at points on the way  1 Looks like a great ride, prevailing wind! Nicely planned, good luck.

yeah it's not following us, just doing stops

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markysparks [12 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

 

Good luck for the ride Dave! I'm away in Edinburgh that week otherwise I would have ridden with you on the last stretch to Walton Pier. Anyway looks a great ride and a good cause- I've made a donation and wish you good weather.

 

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BehindTheBikesheds [2277 posts] 3 months ago
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good that it's not too hilly especially if Andy isn't used to cycling that far, it'll be a slog anyways.

I'm in North Herts and I noticed a couple of thngs.

Firstly as you cross the A6 coming out of Barton le Clay on to the B656. That road can be an absolute bastard, narrow, twisty and undulating with high trees/shrubbary both sides so poor sight lines and cars treat it like a race track. Hopefully you'll be getting to it well after rush hour so it's not too big a deal, on a quiet morning it's a nice road to cycle on. 

Also as you come into Hitchin town centre your route takes you off the main road, past the library, across a pedestrian crossing into and through a car park, down a dark alley that adjoins the old arcade and comes out on to the market square. IF the gates aren't locked to the exit to the arcade(I can't 100% remember if they are  locked at night).

You could to make it simpler, your orig route is in red on the pic below.

(Blue line) As you come off B656 1st exit rbt as orig, then 2nd exit @ rbt SP A602 (Stevenage/Hitchin priory), fwd A602 (Parkway), 2nd exit @rbt continuing A602 (Stevenage road) 1.6km left SP Little Wymondley/Gt.Wymondley/Todds grn, to pick up the Graveley route.

Or, (green line) @t rbt make as if going to take 2nd exit as above but hop off bikes down the footpath onto Tilehouse St. which is much easier and takes you immediately back on to your original route without having to navigate the car park and back alley through the arcade.

The latter deviates you the least and still keeps you over the 400km mark, you'd still need to hop off your bikes to cross into the car park/down the alley on your original route anyway.

If timings work out I might be around to meet you at other side of Hitchin as you come off the B656 to guide you past that and cycle with you a bit toward Buntingford, well if I can keep up, fat old slugs like me don't go so fast ;o)

HTH

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dave atkinson [6396 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

good that it's not too hilly especially if Andy isn't used to cycling that far, it'll be a slog anyways.

I'm in North Herts and I noticed a couple of thngs.

Firstly as you cross the A6 coming out of Barton le Clay on to the B656. That road can be an absolute bastard, narrow, twisty and undulating with high trees/shrubbary both sides so poor sight lines and cars treat it like a race track. Hopefully you'll be getting to it well after rush hour so it's not too big a deal, on a quiet morning it's a nice road to cycle on. 

Also as you come into Hitchin town centre your route takes you off the main road, past the library, across a pedestrian crossing into and through a car park, down a dark alley that adjoins the old arcade and comes out on to the market square. IF the gates aren't locked to the exit to the arcade(I can't 100% remember if they are  locked at night).

You could to make it simpler, your orig route is in red on the pic below.

(Blue line) As you come off B656 1st exit rbt as orig, then 2nd exit @ rbt SP A602 (Stevenage/Hitchin priory), fwd A602 (Parkway), 2nd exit @rbt continuing A602 (Stevenage road) 1.6km left SP Little Wymondley/Gt.Wymondley/Todds grn, to pick up the Graveley route.

Or, (green line) @t rbt make as if going to take 2nd exit as above but hop off bikes down the footpath onto Tilehouse St. which is much easier and takes you immediately back on to your original route without having to navigate the car park and back alley through the arcade.

The latter deviates you the least and still keeps you over the 400km mark, you'd still need to hop off your bikes to cross into the car park/down the alley on your original route anyway.

If timings work out I might be around to meet you at other side of Hitchin as you come off the B656 to guide you past that and cycle with you a bit toward Buntingford, well if I can keep up, fat old slugs like me don't go so fast ;o)

HTH

cheers for that. obviously i don't know Hitchin very well  1

I'll amend that bit. we'll be on the B656 before midday sometime so it shouldn't be too busy. Aiming for lunch in Buntingford if you fancy it  1

If anyone else has any useful local knowledge, i'm all ears

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dave atkinson [6396 posts] 3 months ago
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markysparks wrote:

 

Good luck for the ride Dave! I'm away in Edinburgh that week otherwise I would have ridden with you on the last stretch to Walton Pier. Anyway looks a great ride and a good cause- I've made a donation and wish you good weather.

 

thanks! and a pity you're not about to ride the last bit!

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BehindTheBikesheds [2277 posts] 3 months ago
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Damn, just looked at the actual date and I'm on the train oop North on the morning of 14th , just typical that!

Gutted now that I won't be able to make it but hope it all goes to plan and the weather is kind.

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KendalRed [217 posts] 3 months ago
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BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Damn, just looked at the actual date and I'm on the train oop North on the morning of 14th , just typical that!

Gutted now that I won't be able to make it but hope it all goes to plan and the weather is kind.

A train up North? Good luck with that!

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Master Bean [27 posts] 3 months ago
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Have fun on the A419 after Cricklade... You can head towards Latton and hop over the bridge heading towards Fairford if you want.

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wycombewheeler [1340 posts] 3 months ago
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Have you thought about start time?

I have two schools of thought on this

1) do the night section first when you are fresh, it's hard to ride through the night when already tired, but not so bad if you start in the evening, but if you expect you might need the full 27 hours then maybe best to start at 6pm, so your extra 3 hours are daylight, not night time.

2) maximise daylight riding, start at noon, ride for 9-10 hours, knock off 200km, (220km would be better), check into budget hotel for 6 hours sleep (or sleep in the support vehicle if big enough, and start again at 5am when the sun comes up, leaving 10 hours to polish off the ride.

I'd also suggest you look at the poor student audax, for a tried and tested flat route from Malmesbury to Oxford, although using this might add a few kms on between cumnor and eynesham, what you save in hills could be well worth it.

Good luck though  400km in 27 hours is definitely harder than 600km in 40hours, Weather will play a big factor in this, dry and westerly will be a pleasant ride, wet and easterly could make it almost impossible.

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Master Bean [27 posts] 3 months ago
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^ They've just passed through Malmesbury.

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chillyvanilla [1 post] 3 months ago
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hi well done on your efforts, fancy a challenge for a good cause?

www.ride2survive.ca

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dave atkinson [6396 posts] 3 months ago
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BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Firstly as you cross the A6 coming out of Barton le Clay on to the B656. That road can be an absolute bastard, narrow, twisty and undulating with high trees/shrubbary both sides so poor sight lines and cars treat it like a race track.

you were right, that road was *not* a highlight  1