A crack of dawn start to venture through Yorkshire Dales national park, over to Richmond for Lucia's Vale of York 100k populaire. The drive over was stunning, although my satnav packed up after Skipton (I had no problem getting that far), so I was winging it on roads I'd never been on in my life. The early start meant it was just me & the pheasants, and the early morning sunshine breaking through the haze. I know that I will be planning a bike tour on bridleways following a similar route sometime; it was such a stunning drive.
After some getting lost and relying on my bike gps instead, I made it to the start with enough time for a brew. A lovely couple kindly waited for me to park up to lead me to the startpoint at Swaledale Outdoor club. I admired the lady's lovely pink Tifosi (a bike I would have my eye on if I was in the market for another...or not saving up for a house deposit).
This was my third audax, and getting a bit more comfortable with knowing what the day will bring in terms of my own riding, which is a massive comfort after riding the first one mostly on my own.
I was a bit worried that I'd not been able to transfer the gpx to my device (the cable was at Stephen's house, but I had not been there), so would be relying on the paper instructions, but the route had looked straight forward & I did have the map to fall back on (the paper directions on audax #2 would have had me lost but for the gpx).
The group today was the smallest I'd set off with (others had set off earlier on the more challenging routes). For the first few miles we were bunched together, but it wasnt long before we were strung out in smaller clusters. After realising that my old 60s bike has smaller wheels and getting to better grips with the gears, I know that I cant keep up with modern bikes on her and I shouldn't try (my first audax I did try that and just got worn out). So I was happy to get into a rhythm that was comfortable for me. I actually spent most of the ride in the highest gear (the terrain was pretty flat), despite some reasonable headwinds.
The first section to Northallerton and out the other side towards Thirsk had some reasonably busy roads (it was also saturday, which may have accounted for this).
We felt to be in Northallerton in no time. My first paid job out of uni was here, where I was put up in The Station hotel to work at a trial radio station covering a sickness absence. I interviewed William Hague- he ribbed me in front of a full bookshop, thinking I was going to give him a political grilling, but I was just there to ask about his book he was doing a signing for. It is the best part of a decade since I was last in the town; I remembered it being quiet and sleepy, but today it was bustling with people visiting the market and so busy with traffic being funnelled down the main street, that I pushed my bicycle through the town so that I didnt have to worry about the traffic and taking the correct turn off any of the roundabouts.
The tea room was incredibly pretty (as was the village) and most cyclists sat out in the cottage garden making the most of the decent weather. Nice food, nice cakes, a little bit slow on service, which isnt really what you want on an audax, but this one did have the most generous upper time limit I've seen, so there was no need to rush.
At lunch I was chatting with a group of ladies on their first audax. They were a group of mum's whose kids are at the same school and decided it would be fun to go away for the weekend. They were up from Derby and seemed to be having a fantastic time; they liked the low-key nature of the audax compared with sportives. It was nice to chat with them for a while.
The clouds were thickening as the return leg got going. Most roads were long so navigation was easy.
Three down, two to go to make my Brevet 500 award. Fingers crossed. I
didnt think it would be this close when I joined Audax UK in late
spring, but with other cycling commitments, work and trying to buy a
house, I've not been on as many rides as I imagined.