Held on 9th September
So far my 2001 Audax season has been very poor, so I thought
that I would finish with a challenge, instead of a 100 km Audax I would
extend myself and try a 150 km run. The weather on that Sunday morning
was to say the least inclement, light rain showers propelled by a southerly
20 mph odd winds.
I was surprised to see such a low turn out, nobody from the Fife & Kinross
DA, proof that there were folk out there with more sense than I, however
ten is still a low turn out.
Starting off from Maryculter we made the now customary up hill start before
going south onto the Stonehaven Road. Not having done a 150 before my
tactic was to not to keep up with anyone but to go along at my own pace
rather than run the risk of tiring myself out. The strategy seemed to
work, though it was galling to be dropped so quickly, watching my fellow
riders disappear into the distance.
My solitude was briefly relieved when a late starting couple on a tandem
passed me, only to leave me as quickly as they had arrived. Down into
Stonehaven and along the main street, good memories of past family holidays
here - hell, I remember when this place had a fishing fleet!
I was relieved not to be going directly up onto the old coast road. Since
the advent of the A90 by-pass, it has been made one way for (down) traffic,
though it still allows cyclists to ascend as part of the North Sea Cycle
Route. The Audax went up a small country road, which I never knew existed,
emerging onto the coast road near Dunnottar Castle, from here it was along
the coast, past Kinneff to Inverbervie where the route left the coast
road and disappeared into Strathmore.
The trouble started shortly after leaving Inverbervie, the wind seemed
to intensify as I climbed the gentle hillside, abating for a short while
as I turned to head south again.
Near Marykirk, I stopped to pick up (a wind fall?) a rear light that had
evidently fallen off a fellow riders bike.
Leaving Marykirk, I misread the route instructions and nearly went the
wrong way, fortunately a running distance calculation showed that something
was wrong and I found the new route without too much trouble. It just
goes to show the benefit of keeping a close watch on the route sheet.
I subtracted 0.5 km from the route sheet to synchronise with the trip
computer - giving a discrepancy, which told me that I was about to go
the wrong way.
Through Logie Pert, past what I later discovered to the site of RAF Stracathro,
followed by a sprint across the A90 to the control at the Stracathro hospital
canteen, (need to remember this place in the future, good eating and open
until 6:30 PM) I did not intend on stopping, preferring to put my trust
in eating energy bars every 25 km, however once inside I capitulated to
the warmth and the promise of a rest. I even managed to reunite the rear
light with its owners - I love a happy ending!
Back on the road, passing through the beautiful hospital grounds, then
through Edzell and Fettercairn. Things started to unravel; the wind was
now more in my face and I was starting to tire, I was also off my energy
bars, a danger sign I know only too well - fatigue was setting in. (Why
did I not listen to myself?) The road to Clattering Bridge was hell, the
head wind was so strong everyone had to pedal hard just to go down hill.
I stopped for a rest and a meal at the Control (84 km), another nice place
Setting out was fun, the 12% (1:8) climb was not that bad I took exception
to the heavy rain shower which dampened my spirits, on and on through
the picturesque Drumtochty Glen, then a turn northwards into the wind
to run alongside Fetteresso Forest. Sixteen kilometres of agony and ecstasy,
the wind for the first part was murderous, then it seemed to turn round
becoming a tail wind until the turning for Rickarton, when it changed
to a head wind for the climb to the Slug Road.
My weakened resolve started to crack under the relentless head wind. A
short rest did nothing for me except to place me as the last rider. Turning
onto the Slug Road and the innocuous climb past the Durris transmitter
was the final straw when I made the decision to pack in and return to
Much soul searching had gone on, I told myself that having worked on Friday
night shift and not sleeping well on Saturday and the wind all had contributed
to a bad situation. I was mentally and physically exhausted and it was
time to call it a day.
The real irony came on the way back to the control, I actually started
to feel better; my headache had lessened, my knees were not hurting anymore
and I started eating again. Perhaps I could have gone the distance - don't
you just hate uncertainty?
I joined most of the other riders back at the Final Control in the Maryculter,
the couple on the tandem arrived just as was departing for home, leaving
the other couple as the last to finish, which should have been my job.
Looking back I was pushed to the edges of my physical and mental limits,
battered by the wind and deprived of sleep, I can now fully sympathise
with the more experienced riders who undertake the longer Audax runs -
you have my sincerest respect.
All said and done I managed 132 km out of 150 km in seven and half hours,
averaging 18 kph.
My personal thanks goes to Roger Mattingley and his wife
for organising the Deeside Audax weekend.He tells me that there will be
no Audaces next year, taking a well earned holiday, I will see you in
2003, I have a grudge to settle!
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