Saturday 23rd April

Audax Try-out

I was the only newbie to accept the invitation of joining the Audax riders at The Empress on Saturday morning. Not without some trepidation as 200km seemed like quite a challenge. With the route in my Garmin (other navigation aids are available) and reassurances that I would be looked after we set off towards Northallerton for the first of three stops. I was also reassured that the four regular riders had mudguards and ample bags, not on super light speed machines. The route had been chosen to make the most of the weather and wind conditions but the wind was disappointingly chilly under grey skies.

The pace was steady and the conversation varied as the five of us made good progress on increasingly less familiar roads. I was intrigued to understand what an Audax was and how it worked. It had all seemed to be a bit baffling at first but by the time we reached our first cafe stop in Northallerton I was beginning to understand that it was all about enjoying riding a bike in like minded company just a bit further than I was used to, and eating and drinking of course. So what’s not to like?

We headed north then west passing Darlington and I was introduced to a smashing little cafe at Eppleby. Again I took my lead from the experienced riders and it was cake and coffee, to compliment the bars I had in my pockets. Crossing back under the A66 near Greta Bridge, we even had a short stretch of unpaved road and the route got more lumpy which resulted in the group splitting and re grouping on the tops.

Back through Richmond our third and final stop was in Bedale. I have heard legends of Audax rides and bus shelters where exhausted riders would fall asleep or try to get some shelter from wind and rain. For us the clouds had started to break up and with the wind more helpful it felt a much nicer day, warm enough to sit outside in; it had to be a bus shelter as the benches were occupied. My first Audax would not have been complete without a bus shelter! We consumed our hot drinks and cake in the sun.

More familiar roads now as we used the familiar route back to Ripon and Ripley I completed just over 200km. The day seemed to fly by, I went from looking at my Garmin with still over 100miles to go to realizing we were approaching 100 miles completed.

It really was a grand day out, a great introduction to Audax and an experience I am looking forward to repeating as soon as possible. Will I go on to complete a super marathon ride or find myself on the start line of the London Edinburgh London? Probably not. But this ride certainly closed the gap between the average Wheel Easy ride and opened up new possibilities. Thanks to Andy, Alan, Bob and Paul for inviting me and for Ian’s support.

I really would urge anyone who is interested to give it a go, the ride was very much an introduction to Audax and the group could not have been more welcoming. I used my road bike with no mudguards but would have added guards if the road or weather was wet. I took the usual spares and a pump. I had some bars in my pockets to eat between cafe stops if needed as I like to eat little and often I had two bottles with water and an energy drink which I topped up at the cafe as needed. I could have done with an extras layer as the wind was cooler than I expected but not so bad that I needed to use my rain jacket as a wind breaker.

I look forward to seeing you on the 14th May and 11th June 7:30 outside the Empress, go on give it a go! If you have any questions contact details are on the Wheel Easy website, I had loads and they were answered very patiently and thoroughly.

Chris B