200km Audax - Bridges and Beaches

As I mentioned when I started this journal, I'm trying to gain an Audax UK award for riding a series of long distance events.  Riding one each of a 200km, 300km, 400k and 600km event during the year will earn me the Audax UK award of "Super Randonneur".  With the 300km DIY event under my belt in the form of Stokesley to Glasgow, my next event was the calendar "Bridges and Beaches" organised by my friend Greg.

The route heads out from Stamford Bridge (the first "bridge") near York, to Bridlington (the first beach) for the first control.  Next it is south to the Humber Bridge, this is the second bridge and is next to Hessle foreshore which is the second beach.  (Don't go in the water at Hessle foreshore, it doesn't have a Blue Flag award) Humber bridge is the second control.  There is an information control between there and the last control at Goole.  From Goole we go under the M62 at Hook and over the third bridge, Boothferry Bridge.  The route then finishes back where it started in Stamford Bridge.

All the hills are handled in the first 60km as you head out to Bridlington, so this would make a great first 200km Audax for anyone concerned that adding distance and hills is too much in one go.

I was early and got myself changed and ready to ride.  I had chosen my faster road bicycle for this because I wasn't worried about the distance at all, and I thought I could ride a fairly fast pace.  The sun was shining as others arrived including a couple with a lovely tandem.

There was plenty of chat about pace, who to ride with and warnings of not setting off too fast.  There was also a solid group of Clifton CC riders who I later discovered were doing the 165km faster route as a warm-up for a Sunday event.

In preparation I had two water bottles, one with carbohydrate based energy drink and the other with a sugar free salt drink.  A couple of pieces of gingerbread in the back pocket were for emergency backup food alongside my camera and mobile phone.  In the seat pack were two innertubes, tyre levers, patches and a couple of cable ties.  After a recent bad experience with CO2 cylinders I had ditched that approach altogether and attached my Blackburn frame pump under the top tube.  In order to keep the route sheet to hand, I had sealed it in a ziplock bag and held it to my arm with a couple of elasticbands.  I had a gilet too... but didn't expect to use it.  The forecast was wonderful so I didn't bother with a rain jacket at all.

With my brevet card in it's pouch in the back-pocket, Greg announced, "That's it, you're off!" and we rolled out into Stamford Bridge.

I didn't want to get caught up with the "fast group", but I happened to be first on the road.  I had spent the previous evening looking at Google Street View to familiarize myself with the junctions and as we rolled out I found that I knew exactly where I was going.  I was comfortable, happy, it was sunny and the next thing I know I'm spinning along at 30kph using very little energy.  I don't like to work to a speed as such, I'd rather work at a power level that feels right, and right now this 30kph felt easy so I kept going.

The lanes were scenic, they could have been ugly if it was raining, but on this day and in this weather they were perfect.  There was absolutely no traffic as the first few hills arrived.  After Kirkby Underdale, the main climb I'd been expecting take the route up to a Roman road running along a ridge, but almost immediately drops down the other side into a nice little valley; Thixendale.

The day had a slight wind from the northeast, but here in Thixendale I was sheltered and found that my pace didn't drop off at all.

After this we joined the B1251 at Fimber and the road climbed a little more.  I like B-roads because they go where I'm going and are well signposted.  This road took me swiftly to Sledmere where I turned onto the B1253 which I followed all the way to Bridlington.

As you can see, nice easy roads, wide enough and quiet.  As I arrived at Bridlington the route took us across the main road and via a short section of footpath to some cutsie village-shop lined roads.  I had my first "off route" moment when I took the 2nd exit of a roundabout instead of the third.  The instructions were clear, I just didn't read them.  I knew I'd gone wrong when I rode over a railway line instead of under a railway bridge.  It was easy to rectify though and the next moment I was on the seafront looking for a cafe.  I faffed a bit here, I should have just stopped at the first cafe and taken a receipt, but I messed around looking for exactly the cafe Greg had sent us to.

About 10 minutes later, some of the other riders sped into Bridlington, and amid shouts of "There's a cyclist", "He's on this Audax", " I saw him at the beginning", I was surrounded by four guys who were also looking for a cafe.  We chatted briefly about the route ahead before I left them to get their coffee and headed out into the chaos of the Bridlington traffic.  The traffic lights do the opposite of the "green wave", they do a "red wave" stopping you at each light surrounded by cars and buses.  Eventually I made it out onto the A164 and was speeding my way to Burton Agnes with a lovely tailwind.

Once into the Wolds the route undulated gently enough to enjoy and keep you seeing new sights, the fields were wonderful around me and the warmth of the day was just perfect.  I had been cycle-camping in this area with Carol last year and started to recognize some of the town names like Hutton Cranswick and Lund.  This was absolutely my favourite part of the ride - the Yorkshire Wolds are well worth a holiday visit, there is excellent camping and in my experience the pub food and drink has been unerringly good.  Which reminded me... I stopped in Walkington at "The Barrel" for a lovely pint.  Chatting to the Landlord outside in the sunshine I explained what I was doing, he told me about his cycling youth too and admitted it has been a long time since he rode a bike.

Heading on fully refreshed I found my way down to the Country Park at the Humber Bridge, where first you ride underneath it, knowing that later you'll cycle over it.

Here I met a rider who'd taken a detour and nearly ended up in Hull.  I like Hull, but it can be easy to get lost in the city and unfortunately there tends to be broken glass laid out for cyclists by one or two disaffected youngsters.  Anyway, a quick stop for a Freddo Frog chocolate and out onto the road again.

As I was crossing the Humber Bridge I had to take it carefully and easily as there was a million or more ninja-kids doing a sponsored walk, or rather a sponsored "don't look where you're going".  Anyway, I was very careful and tip-toed my way to the other side.  You can see they were ninjas.. as they are missing from my photograph.  Cunning little ninjas.

As I rode off to South Ferriby I looked back at the Humber Bridge one last time.

After this the route hugs the estuary as closely as possible, which is good because it keeps you away from the busy roads and probably isn't much further.  There is a bridge I forgot to mention earlier, the interesting bridge at Gunness where there was an information control as you cross over the river Trent.

The next section is deadpan flat, as you pass one of the "dullest Ordnance Survey squares" in Great Britain.  This is great for keeping the pace up, and if you are tired and don't want any hills that is okay. I'd recommend company for this section as I found it very difficult.  This is the closest I've come to an experience on the roads like riding a turbo-trainer indoors.  Nothing to interrupt the spinning, nothing to speed you up or slow you down... you just keep going.

I eventually came into Goole and looked for a cafe for something to eat and drink.  It was about 4:30pm and shops were closing for the day, but I found the Supreme Coffee Shop and ordered some coffee and chips.

It was still a lovely afternoon and I could sit out the front.  The service was good and the chips were freshly fried - although I found I couldn't eat as much as I wanted to.  My stomach was feeling tight and I was tired now.  I'd been keeping a pretty consistent pace for the entire route and was faced with only another 40km to get home.

It was quieter as I left Goole and started the final leg, via Hook and the Boothferry Bridge back into the countryside north of the Humber estuary.  The road began to gently undulate again and I found my mojo returning.  I was really enjoying this last section and knowing that I'd kept a good pace.  I hadn't seen anyone since the Humber bridge and as the stop for chips in Goole had taken 30 minutes I felt that others were probably now ahead of me.

As I followed the B1228 from Howden to Sutton on Derwent I did get slightly wet, but I think it was only cooling tower condensate from Drax Power Station rather than actual rain.  I suspect gardens in Howden are always green.

There were just a few more wiggles to go, past Newton upon Derwent and Wilberfoss and I found myself back at Stamford Bridge.

Greg greeted me with a cheery hello and "First Finisher!".  I was pretty pleased with myself because I'd ridden the entire route solo, not got significantly lost, enjoyed myself and to top it all off, I'd arrived back before the "fast group".  I later discovered that I was actually the fast group.

I did do some detours, so although this was a 200km Audax, with an official distance of 222km... I had actually covered 237km.  My rolling time was 8hrs 55mins and my total time was 10hrs and 8mins.  I was concerned that with hardly any stops I'd managed to rack up 1hr 13mins worth of "sitting around", but Greg tells me that isn't much on a 10hr ride and most of it would have come from junctions and traffic lights.  Upon reflection I think most of it came in Goole waiting for freshly cooked chips.

So this was my second successful Audax and a calendar event as well.  The scenery was beautiful and it was good to be riding a route someone else had researched and defined, as it took me into uncharted territory.  I was glad I had done my research and preparation as it had made each junction a lot easier to navigate.

Thanks to Greg for organizing such a pleasant 200km Audax.

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