Sunday, 19 February 2012

North West Passage Audax

Back in February 2009 I rode my first Audax, the mini North West Passage which starts in Rochdale. After completing it I said I would be back to ride the full event, a 200k Audax. Since then there has always be a reason not to do it but I was free on the date this year, I then forgot to enter but fortunately you can enter on the day. I was organised enough to print out an entry form but that is where the organisation stopped. I was late leaving in the morning due to having to sort out mudguards on Ruby (I was going to use the cross bike and then realised how much movement there was in the bottom bracket) and I only had a handful of cereal bars with me.

The ride to the start was nice and I foolishly though the weatherman had got the forecast wrong. I had time to sign up, put waterproofs on (since it started raining) and adjust my light and then we were off. Sticking with a group to Todmorden my average speed was pleasing but soon the hills got bigger and I got slower and colder. The rain by this point was really coming down (not what I would call drizzle BBC weather), visibility was poor and it actually hurt when it hit your face. I realised I hadn't eaten enough earlier and stopped put my showerproof on over my waterproof and ate a couple of cereal bars.

The first control was in settle and it felt like it was a long way! Getting there I quickly ordered a bacon roll and two cakes, just to make sure, as well as a hot chocolate. Leaving Settle and the sun was out and I was feeling better, the earlier thoughts of heading home were gone and I could feel my feet again. Turns out I was a little too optimistic and the rain started again. It also seemed to be nice and hilly. Still it was only 20miles to the next control.

I got there and the sun was out, a nice little mobile van cafe provided me with another hot chocolate and I set off just in front of two lads I had arrived just after. They caught me within a couple of miles and I grabbed the wheel, it was very windy and riding into the wind on my own was taking a lot of effort. One of them was very strong and I took the front once or twice but after a quick recovery he was back on the front pulling us along. Through Lancaster and I was glad of my Garmin to lead me through, apart from traffic lights we made good progress not having to read a route sheet. Then onto the cafe at Scorton. Here it was chocolate cake time!

My Gloves had dried out by now and I even took my waterproofs off. A nice section of flat along the A6 was quite enjoyable and I hooked up with another Audaxer who wasn't sure where he was going and was using me as a personal sat-nav. Turning off the A6 and towards Blackburn the temperature started dropping and the next thing we know the hail comes. Waterproofs straight back on we gathered a small group of Audaxes sheltering  by a barn waiting for it to be possible to see again. Onwards and upwards, or so it felt, my front shifter decided to die while stuck in the big ring. I decided I would prefer to be stuck in the little ring so undid the cable, the right decision with some hills still to come.

After Blackburn it started to get dark but I knew the roads well and was actually enjoying some of the climbing, still rubbish at it but not a suprise as most of my riding is flat at the moment. I clattered through a pothole on the down to Rochdale but fortunately got away with it. In Rocahdale I picked up another couple of lost Audaxes who had managed to get to there via Bacup. They even bought me a pint to say thanks for guiding them the last couple of miles. Back to the pub at the start to be fed pie and chips before riding home. It seemed to take ages getting home, and looking at my average speed for that part of the journey it did, as the wind was even stronger and a head wind.

Total Stats for the day:

2830m climbing
Average Speed 13.6mph


  1. Wow. Very impressed; particularly with such a great average speed for such a long hilly ride.

  2. Very very impressed Amy! what progression you've made huh since we first met in 2006/7?

    looking at your aims you should complete Fred Whitton easily ( Rik has and he rarely rides over 100 mile rides )
    go for it!

  3. Ads Plan is to ride the Fred Whitton Route at some point this summer. Not doing the Fred itself as its a lot of money and I actually prefer there to be a few less people on the road.

    Yes come a long way since 2006/07 I remember going to my first 24hour race and saying I could never ride one solo!