Back at the Barn Owl, we were given a warm welcome from organiser Pippa Wheeler who told us our 11-hour ride has been a good one for a first ever audax. It sounded like a long time to us (and felt it too), but where on a sportive we’d have paused for five minutes at feed stops to cram an apple pie and a gel down our necks, today we’d stopped for tea, egg and chips, soup, cake, buns, tea and more tea.
We learnt that there were plenty more people still out there in the darkness (we passed a couple on our way in), and that not even all the 100km riders made it back before the weather turned. “We do have a broad spectrum of abilities,” Pippa told us, “and everyone is catered for.”
Talk turned to reminiscences of the day and, as always with these things, the worst, bleakest sections of the ride were relived with the broadest smiles. Back at Margaret’s house I questioned my sanity for wanting to do more of these events, culminating in a ride six times as long, but with the warmth back in my fingers and toes and a smile on my face I’m looking forward to the challenge, and to meeting more of the great people I met today.
For details of audax rides in your area, check out Audax UK at www.aukweb.net
Despite this seemingly inauspicious start, we did make it to Paris, and you can read about our PBP experience here.