Yesterday I rode the Yorkshire Gallop – a 200k calendared audax in the Vale of York, starting near Darlington.
I would imagine around 40 riders started, setting off at 8am. The forecast was good; sunny with a gentle breeze. We seemed to have a light tail wind to start with, and that combined with riding in a decent-sized pack on flat roads meant a good healthy pace.
There were a fair number of riders from a local club who had joined the event but weren’t regular audax riders. Nothing wrong with that of course and they were good company, but I did wonder if they might struggle a bit towards the end – they seemed to be going at a pace better suited to a 100k club ride.
The first control was in thirsk where I picked up a receipt. At this point I was feeling pretty good, especially despite the fact that my preparation for this ride had not been ideal. I’ve not been in the saddle as much as I would have liked recently, and the night before this audax I’d had a late night and a few too many beers in Newcastle.
We rode over the pleasant Howardian Hills, and made our second control in Malton – Morrison’s café. It was about 11.45 at this point, but I was ready for lunch. Beans on toast with mushrooms and a hash brown was just right. The group seemed to be taking their time so I decided to press on alone at this point. I like the company of a group ride, but it’s good to have a bit of solitude too sometimes.
Approaching York I was flagging a little, so it was good to bump into another rider – chatting a bit perked me up and we made our way into the centre of the city and picked up a receipt at Sainsbury’s for our control.
We carried on, but before long I was on my own again. I was starting to feel quite fatigued. On reflection I realise I did a few things wrong. Firstly, being out drinking the night before an audax probably wasn’t a good idea. Secondly I’m sure I didn’t keep myself properly hydrated on this ride. It was good to get to Ripon for the final control before the finish. There were various options when I arrived, but I knew straight away where I was headed – Greggs! “One vegan sausage roll please!”.
I didn’t stop long in Ripon, just getting off the bike for a few minutes perked me up. I knew there was about two hours to go, and at that point wanted to get on with it. The final 50k was hard work. Not terrible, but not great and I was glad to finish. I feel like I made harder work of it that I needed to, but have learnt some useful lessons.
This ride was important for two other reasons. Firstly it was a qualifier for Paris-Brest-Paris. I have to complete a Super Randonneur in order to qualify – a series of 200, 300, 400 and 600k rides. This was the 200, and it feels good to have got started with the process – the 300 comes in April.
It was also the 11th ride in my attempt at a Randonnee Round the Year – a 200k ride every calendar month for a year. It feels really good to be so close to completing it now – just one more to go!