23 August 2012

Ride Report: From Clee to Heaven 100km audax

When Alberto decided he wanted to tackle the Kidderminster Killer 200km audax, I was worried. It seemed like a very tough ride. Fortunately there was a 100km event the same day, still plenty hilly with 2 AA points (the Audax Altitude Award, a  system in Audax UK for denoting hilly rides), but I knew that over 100km  I could handle it.

Happily, Paul, a guy we sometimes cycle with, was also doing the 100, so I wouldn't have to be completely on my own. Still, this would be my first ride without Alberto so I was worried about any mechanical issue that might crop up, or even a puncture wouldn't have been fun to deal with on my own.

My concern only heightened over the first 30km when we passed at least five people with punctures. I was seriously starting to wonder whether there were tacks on the road like in the Tour de France! The roads were wet from the rain the night before, which certainly contributed, but many tires were of the lightweight variety which just aren't as puncture proof. I hoped my Cotinental Gatorskins would get me round; they've never failed us on an audax.

The first portion of the ride was a relatively flat run to Ray's Farm near the village of Billingsley. We made relatively good time and arrived in good spirits. We had a  £1.60 voucher for Rays Farm included in our entry fee, which was nice, though since we would loop back to the farm twice I knew we'd definitely be spending more than that. I ordered a bacon bap and a Coke; knowing that we'd have to climb immediately after the stop, I was hesitant to order anything heavier, although the cakes looked amazing. The Coke had come in a bottle, and was a bit too much for me to drink quickly. No matter, I hid it in some bushes near my bike and would drink the rest when we got back to Ray's Farm some 50km later!

In the Clee Hills
We headed off again into what was meant to be the toughest section of the ride. We headed up into the Clee Hills and for the most part I felt great. I felt I was able to take the hills faster than I would have in the past (though this may have been psychological, without Alberto there to zoom up the hill at the speed of light!) and my legs weren't complaining too much. There was one hill I ended up walking part of - but so did two of the men I was riding with at the time, so I didn't feel so bad.

When we reached the top of this hill we stopped to have a quick snack and to try to send some text messages; Rays Farm was in a valley and we didn't get any reception there. I had a text from Alberto saying that his ride was going well, and told him that mine was as well. It started to drizzle lightly, which didn't bother us as it was still quite warm, although it made for a scarier descent.

We had been warned about the condition of the roads, due to some of the rainest summer months in a long time. They were gravelly in places, but actually not too bad, and although I had to take some of the descents cautiously, I loved the route. We were rewarded with many nice views and I was sad that I didn't have my personal on-bike photographer with me as there was no way I could stop to take pictures every time  we had a nice view.

We arrived back in Ray's Farm and I found my half bottle of Coke waiting for me in it's hiding spot. It was still relatively cool as well! The bacon bap had gone down so well the first time that I ordered another! Still feeling good, and surprisingly in touch with the peloton compared to normal, Paul and I set off for the final 40km back to HQ.

Severn Valley Railway
We crossed paths with the Severn Valley Railroad just as a couple was standing there to tell us that the train would be coming past any moment. We decided to wait and watch it pass, how often is it that you get to see a steam train go by up close like that, while out on a bike ride! As we were about to head off again a group of four others, two locals who looked like they had decades of cycling under their belts and two others who might have been slightly older than Alberto. We cycled with them through Severn Valley Country Park but separated when they used their local knowledge to divert from the route sheet to take a busy A-road for a more direct route back to HQ. It was faster, but we opted for the more pleasant route!

Around this time a strange feeling started to come over me. For the first time that I can remember on an audax, I didn't really want the ride to end! I've noticed that even on the most enjoyable rides, the last 5-10% of it is spent waiting for it to be over and looking forward to arriving in HQ. But on this ride, my legs felt fresh, the sun had started to come out, the roads were still quiet and the views beautiful, and I was a little disappointed when we pulled into Belbroughton at about 4:45pm.

The organiser had baked at least five or six different types of cakes and was serving bacon sandwhiches to boot! I had some cake (didn't think I could make it a three-bacon-bap day!), said goodbye to Paul, and watched the last of the 100km riders arrive and then depart for home again. The organisers showed me great hospitality, chatting to me and helping me make dinner plans while I waited for about four hours for Alberto to finish his ride.

As he arrived and sat down to eat, I couldn't resist any longer and ordered my third bacon sandwhich of the day. And it tasted great!


  1. Many thanks for your kind comments about the event. Hopefully we will see you and Alberto again next year.

    Happy audaxing


  2. Thanks again Phillip for all your help and company!! We had a great time.

  3. The only reason you ended up walking that hill and I managed to peddle up it was gearing, so it was totally down to the bike, think you might need to invest in a triple if you are planning to go after those AAA points.

    Hope to see you guys on the road again in the not too distant future.


  4. Yeah, a bike with a triple is certainly on my n+1 wish list!! For now I'm just grateful my cycling shoes are easy to walk in :-)