Gerry's Autumn Brevet

This is a 100km (~60 miles) Brevet Populaire audax from Wiggington near York.  Brevet Populaire are designed with less taxing time limits over distances of 50km, 100km or 150km.  Instead of the usual 15kph minimum speed for a Brevet Randonneur (BR), the Brevet Populaire (BP) events have a 12.5kph minimum speed, and maybe as low as 10kph.  Some people see these as entry level audax events, designed to help cyclists experience audax and go on to try longer Randonneur events of 200km or more.  However, I consider them to be very enjoyable long rides in themselves.  Going out for a whole day ride with friends, covering 100km of beautiful country lanes and stopping for tea and cake at nice little tearooms seems so genteel and quaintly British.  And yet, if the weather turns, even 100km can be a war of attrition.

Gerry's Autumn Brevet was previously a season ending Audax, but with the audax season changes brought in during 2012 it is now a season opener.  So Carol and I rode this at the beginning of my campaign to bring Carol up to riding a 200km event by the end of the season.  My goal - and it probably is my goal because she laughs at me when I say it - is to help her ride a "Randonneur 500" series of events.  This consists of four rides; 50km, 100km, 150k and 200km.  The 200km ride being at BR pace.

This ride is always really well attended, I believe that lots of audax riders use it as a social event and get-together after a hard season of long distance riding.  It is certainly pleasant to be riding along peaceably chatting to friends and familiar faces.  There must have been about 100 riders this year, and there would have been more if all the VC167 club members had been able to come.  The VC167 club were having their AGM right after the ride, but due to a clash of events some had stayed over in Calderdale to ride the Season of Mists.

Everyone met up in the car park of the village hall in Wiggington and the usual signing on and faffing about was taking place.  Acquaintances were being remade, photographs taken; there was plenty of conversation and anyone new was welcomed by all.  Carol and I had arrived at 9:30am so we could relax before the 10am start, and Suzanne had cycled to the start from Caroline's home in York.  We were also joined by Tim and Tracey Rouse and their 11 year old son; they were all doing their first audax so there was a lot to share with them before we started.

Deano was there, he was doing an extended event and had ridden down from Darlington.  Andy and his wife were on a good looking Orbit tandem, and there was a good selection of yacf riders including Phantasmagoria on her brand new racing green Tifosi bicycle.

Just before we set off Carol wanted to put her jumper in the car, which required me to dig the keys out of the Carradice Barley.  So with minutes to go I have the contents of my saddle bag on the floor.  Andy rides past and quips about "Start line faffing"... (grrr).  With everyone rolling out in a controlled manner avoiding the traffic passing by I manage to join the very end of the group.  I had sent Carol off with the words "I'll catch up".  Instantly I noticed that my front mudguard was wonky - the clasp holding it to the forks is not very tight and I had a few moments to straighten it out and pull it through.  I was slightly flustered now, this is not how my audaxes start.  I rejoined the field and took a deep breath, "Relax," I told myself, "get some photographs of the riders."

It was indeed a lovely sunny day, although with a slightly crisp feel to the air.  Many were wearing extra layers to protect against the cold, but it was a really mixed day as in the sunshine you warmed up quickly, but within moments of being in the shade your temperature dropped.  We weaved our way out of Wiggington and on to quiet country lanes out east bound towards Stamford Bridge.  I was feeling very chatty and found time to ride along with Suzanne talking about the year so far and the year ahead.  Thankfully there were riders in front who were reading the route sheet and we realised we had to turn left.  Suzanne later admitted she didn't look at the route sheet once and (shock) she didn't even bring a pen or pencil to complete her Brevet card.

When we reached Upper Helmsely I was at the back of a group and this time was concentrating on the route sheet.  So I spotted when everyone else rode past the unmarked right hand turn.  Being a sociable soul I let them know, I didn't just leave them to go the wrong way.  The Info Control at Buttercrambe was just after a lovely little bridge, but due to a bit of bad timing with some 4x4 vehicles we couldn't really enjoy it.  The road was just too busy at that point.  I stopped to note the answer to the info control and so did Tim and team.  Suzanne and Carol ploughed on knowing that they could get the answer from me later.

The fantastic blue skies, absence of any wind, lovely sunshine and easy riding continued and we joined a long straight and undulating road all the way to Malton for the first stop of the day at Morrisons. 

It was funny to see so many cyclists gathered outside Morrisons in Malton, and also get a chance to look at the variety of bicycles people were riding.  Carol had a bit of a stuffy nose so we tried to find some menthol sweets to "'elp 'er breathe more easily".

Suzanne was sticking to me like glue - I was reading the route sheet!

Sunny morning in Malton

After a very brief stop we headed off again, but now the groups were breaking up a bit and I was riding with Suzanne and Carol mainly; Tim and team were slightly behind us.  There was one gentlemen in a tuxedo cycling jersey which was fun to see, it really looked like he was riding in formal dress except for the black tight cycling trousers.  The climb from Malton to Castle Howard stretched everyone out and then there was a sweeping descent to a crossroads.

Suzanne, Carol and I regrouped here and had some snacks for energy.  It was a great place to stop and catch photos of Audaxers.

"Classic" audax pose - eating food by a junction in the sun.

A nice opportunity to spend time with friends.

After this junction the road was steeply undulating and required a bit of effort from everyone, but downs always follow and the road from here to Nunnington was classically English countryside, with wide open views of the Howardian hills.  Suzanne was riding with Deano, Carol and I stayed together; last year Carol had ridden this section alone into a strong headwind, so this time she was really enjoying the still atmosphere and some company.

A couple we met on the ride, a lady from Wiggington and a gentleman from Teesside - I had a nice chat with them about gathering information at info controls.

After the fast descent into Oswaldkirk and the newly resurfaced road to Ampleforth we passed the massive cross at the entrance to Ampleforth college and by the time we stopped at the tearoom in the college Carol was ready to drop.  She needed food and some rest, so we took a bit longer here and recharged our batteries.

There were a lot of audaxers filling the tearoom.

It was nice to sit out in the sunshine and talk to friends about the ride and what their plans were for next year.  I spent a nice time with Deano who has kicked off his 2013 Audax season with this ride as an extended calendar event.  By riding 100km to the start he was able to gain 2 points and a 200km ride.  He was riding fixed wheel as usual.  The tearoom at the college is down a twisty slope, but not so steep that you'd need to push back up, even after a rest.

Some fettling of mechanicals draws a crowd of spectators.

Someone pootling back to the main road while Carol enjoys the sunshine on the steps.

At this point a message appeared on my camera, "Battery Exhausted".  That made me chuckle.  So we set off on the final leg home, along the road past Ampleforth to Byland Abbey which is a very interesting ruin but with very few visitors.  Turning right we then added a loop to Kilburn and made the info control record to prove we'd ridden the extra section before heading back to Coxwold.  The weather had been really good and the sun was still shining but there was now a colder chill to the air and I popped a jumper over my jersey to keep some warmth in.  Carol had goosebumps on her legs from the cold air.  Suzanne took to the lead and made a solid 25kph pace for Carol to tuck in behind, the pair of them worked well together.  I tried to help but honestly I am useless at leading Carol out and I can't get the speed right for her.  So I contented myself to ride along beside and behind her.  Through Easingwold and onto the B1363 at Sutton-on-the-Forest for the final main road blast back to Wiggington.  What a great pace they set together and we rolled back into the control at 16:15.  This was really excellent news because it means we completed the 100km ride at BR pace; the rolling pace was 19.4kph and the total pace including stops was 16kph.

We had a brilliant day together in the sunshine.  The route is lovely and I'd recommend it to anyone.  The family Rouse arrived 15 minutes after us also completing this Brevet at Randonneur speed.  That is a fantastic start for a young man of 11 years old to complete that very long ride, so well done to all of them.

Here is an overview of the route and the elevation, it isn't very hilly, but there is a choppiness to the rolling countryside which adds a dimension of challenge for this long distance event.

Carol has done no training for this event, which gives me a lot of confidence that she'll be able to achieve a 200km event at BR pace.  She has completed her first Audax of the 2013 season in 6 hours and 15 minutes, riding 100km (62 miles), a wonderful day out.

Deano relaxing in Ampleforth

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