Another North West Passage 200 completed (#4), and with it the realisation that I’ve fallen out of love with Audax. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of randonneuring, but as with many ideas, a collision with reality is never far away. The weather was the best it has been for four years, just a little drizzle towards the end, and a bit of battling into headwinds after the turn.
About 160 km in I started feeling grim, and eating and drinking didn’t help – the same sensations as on my last two failed events, and although this one I finished I was in no fit state to ride home and had to ask my long-suffering partner for a lift home (I did ride the 25 km to the start). I hadn’t ridden for a month before this (apart from a quick spin on the Brompton) which probably explains the earlier onset of these sensations, but I am becoming increasingly frustrated with my string of unpleasant audax experiences.
Until last Summer I have never felt this physically bad on the bike, and I know enough to understand that on long distance events there is a transition related to that faced by marathon runners and triathletes, and it seems to be hitting me hard. I have always coped pretty well before, however, and my only DNF before this bad streak has been because I over-slept on a 600… I’ve completed two SR series (both including solo DIY rides including a 600), so I know I can cope with the psychological challenges, but my body seems to be rebelling (or maybe it’s all in my head…).
So, it’s over for me for a while. I might do some longer rides this year, but I won’t be riding any more calendar events. Maybe next year, if I can get my confidence back. Throwing up and not being unable to eat, ride or drink is not something I want to experience again, and feeling the nagging onset at 160 km, despite being able to finish a 200 is not a good sign, however unprepared I was. I am glad I couldn’t enter LEL, due to more important things to do, so I’m not too out of pocket!
I will probably ride the 300 km to Brecon again when the weather is better (improved route already planned), and ride to and from work occcasionally and once each weekend for fun. Mostly on my own (although there are some people I would ride more with). Maybe I will ride some of the events I entered later in the year, but at the moment I would rather poke my eyes out with a stick.
I don’t know how you do it anyway – with young family etc.! Randonneuring was my life from 1983 to 1991, but when the second child cam along I couldn’t contemplate getting the training in to enable anything like even a 200Km event. Mentally and physically an extended break away from might be a good thing, and then come back with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. Doing a 200km on a diet of ‘Brompton spins’ is probably asking a lot – I train now as if I’m entering a season of road races, just to ride and complete 11-12 80-100 mile sportives a year. I dream of LEL or a 600, and maybe a faster LEJOG than the 14-day one we did….but I do enjoy my cycling more again now, but have to train fairly seriously, otherwise it is just depressing hurting out there on your own and not getting the reward you used to get. Maybe we just have to work harder as we get older to get the same out of it, but just sometimes it then gives us back more than we hoped or expected. I went through some pretty depressing fallow years, and every-so-often I still need to reassess and not just repeat what I did last year – all too easy to fill out the entries for the same set of events and not plan according to what’s possible, most enjoyable, and most rewarding taking into account the year ahead, your fitness, other things happening in your life, whether a new event or even a new type of event/challenge would actually be better. Just planning a multi-day off road ride across the South Downs & back – never done anything like it before – lost to learn and be nervous about but after I found a few off road bashes to the coast and back gave me new enthusiasm and a mental break from road riding, I’m hoping it will be a new angle I can return to…..sorry blethered on a bit!
I think all of that is right. The kids aren’t so small now and I have been riding a lot more (about 200 km a week when fit), but this month was blighted by cold/cough. It’s more than that also but I am prone to catastrophising! I have been wondering if there have been some physiological changes, maybe all the things I haven’t eating/drinking are now wrong!
If you tried to ride it on that cough, it’s no wonder you suffered. I’ve had a month off and taken 6 rides to get back to where I was at the end of December. Go easy on yourself, ride it for fun.
Also there’s bits of the NWP I really enjoy but found a lot of it really depressing last year (it was on half term weekend so busy in the best bits).
We do change as we get older so inevitably just as we’ve figured it all out, it becomes wrong. Make sure there’s nothing serious with the GP (I’m on my second round of anti biotics and have been told I need more vit D in my life) and most importantly, keeeep ridin’.
And do enjoy the South Downs – sounds a great plan ☺
The most I’ve ridden on one day is 180km and that was only over gently undulating terrain. So I’m rather in awe of your exploits.
It’s all relative! Cycling was much harder for me when I started out. I need the challenge but it becomes harder to find without blowback…