Saturday, 16 July 2016

Denshaw-Bowland 200K Audax - by Sarah Burbidge

Sunday 10th July
An impromptu 200K with the big yan MR Paul Cre saw me taking on a belter of an Audax.
An early start today saw me meeting Paul at 6:30am at west vale. Our Audax started here as we both decided to increase our distance and elevation by riding to the start. Up through Jagger green to outlane on new hey and dropping into denshaw, ridng to the start I started to wonder whether I made a mistake as we made our way in strong headwind. I hoped the day would see some let up in the wind strength.. but bollocks it didn't !!
We officially started the Audax at 8am after supping some tea and wolfing down some jam and toast.
Our first leg of the route saw us heading back up the way we came to buckstones, but pleasant it was a pure tailwind up and down saddleworth. I must make a mention we saw and waved to David Saleem who was making his way up saddleworth riding to the start of the widdop 100K.
anyhoo our ride must go on , our first control was at the base of stocks lane , a rather stupid place I remembered the control question and in my quest of not having to stop on the steep ascent I tried to look for the answer whilst riding as it transcended I seemingly made up at answer and later found out I'd got it completely wrong. Oh well it wouldn't be an Audax with Paul if we didn't at least miss the first control or get it wrong .. never mind I'll use my charm later and wrangle it out of another fellow rider later on.
Once at the top our next control would be at 83K in Settle . So more climbing to do before then , heading up wainstalls we took on parts of the routes of spring into the dales & season of mist , our first slight mechanical came at oxenhope, no points for guessing who.. Paul, an issue with his brakes not working properly due to his newly fitted dynamo light, but a bit off tweaking we were on our way again.
The 83K mark seemed to take forever and felt like a long way to go since the start without stopping to food , but This only spurred us on to get there as quick as we could for welcomed grub. We eventually got there and found a quirky little cafe in a boutique shop. I was absolutely starving so order a full vegetarian breakfast and treated my self to big fat slab of carrot cake and a coke. Paul ordered a pot of tea ate a slab of chocolate cake before eating a huge pasta dish. Hes so back to front sometimes! Still not content with our fill we went to Co op bought chocolate protein shakes and pints of milk. A solid refuel and made on our way again.
Our next control was to find a pub in Wray, about 20K or so from settle. It was quite a nice change to leave cafe stop and not have to climb any serious hills straight way which is what normally happens on Audax. Instead we had nice rolling terrain.
Once we got our info it was off into the forest of Bowland again ! All recent Audax seem to pass through here . I spent much of the time on Paul's wheel as it not only got lumpy but we were battling a headwind as well which I was struggling with. We made our way up to the summit of the cross of greet which got pretty steep in places . Man I was starting to tire now.
It had been raining on our way up so we had to descend the narrow road on pretty wet surfaces where I inadvertently decided to take up cross riding by leaving the road and heading off into the mud under the tree line. I managed not to fall off fortunately this time.
From this point om the hills were relentless they were never gentle and we were either going up of down no respite. We came to a hill in the little village of newhey at about 100 miles in and 11000ft in the legs that bit would be fair to say it was an absolute pig at 21% it was a sting. I felt I was going backwards.
We did have another cafe stop at slaidburn an opportunity for us to dry out as we got caught in a heavy shower on one descent and it felt like being stabbed in the face with a 100 pins.
I knew where we were at slaidburn so knew that we were now on our last leg home a few more light showers and a lot more wind of both kind !
We got to todmoden and we both need to asop again for a refuel mars bars and coke all round before doing our final final leg around hollingworth lake and back up the last climb to denshaw.
Back at base there was homemade soup, cheese sandwiches and copious amounts of milk to be drunk. Everyone looked shattered and was saying how tough the ride was. Everybody else had the right idea though and had driven to the start .. me and Paul now had to start climbing again just to get home but fortunately it was a tailwind all the way back so didn't seem too bad .
The day ended with me doing my longest ride ever and most elevation gain in a ride ever, which was my aim of the day even if I had to drag my bike around.
All in all 160miles done and 15500ft of climbing with an average speed of 14.5mph It was an awesome Audax and a fab day out regardless of the weather great company and I'll definitely be doing this Audax again.

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