The internet is a vast source of misinformation and filtering for valuable knowledge isn't easy, so when it comes to preparing for a long distance event like London-Edinburgh-London
it is useful to have someone pull together current received wisdom. Have fun everyone... I hope some of these thoughts on preparation help you:
- Choice of bicycle: It is best to be riding a bicycle, unless it is something else. If you really need to buy a new bicycle, make sure it is red, they are fastest, except for the carbon ones which are faster, except for the broken ones which are more comfortable due to the compliance of the cracked top-tube, and that steel is real unless you are fishing in which case carbon might be a better reel (I don't know, I'm not that acute).
- Don't buy titanium because others will be jealous and you need an oxygen tent to fix it, and it doesn't come in red.
- You should really eat before you feel hungry but not before you really need to eat.
- Alcohol makes you more thirsty, but you won't notice because you'll be drunk, and it is healthier than the water round here, unless you not from around here are you?
- You should ride fast and stop long so long as you don't stop too long and ride too fast. And to get the best value for money you should ride at the back but get to the controls first to eat as much as you can.
- Bring a trailer for extra food, but don't use it.
- Have fun - it is hell out there and no one in their right mind does this except that it is the most wonderful thing you will ever "never do again" until next time.
- Remember that the route is flat except for the not flat bits but that 50% of the route is downhill, except for the flat bits and that the wind blows forward and the wind blows back but that we are all tapered like a tin teardrop.
- There are bag drops, but real audaxers don't need support except for real audaxers who use bag drops.
- The 'vest of shame' is a badge of honour.
- Lights... AA, AAA, B+ and D- if you don't have a dynamo don't worry, you'll have an opportunity to use your battery powered light to help someone whose loose connections failed in the rain - and the symmetry of that is they will help you when you left your spare batteries at the last control.
- Sleep during the day at the controls - it is quieter. Then ride all night on empty roads. Unless you are part of a team with a different tactical strategy in which case get them a dictionary and ride with someone else.
- Don't post multiple choice questions on an internet forum unless you know what a Gaussian distribution is.
- It is worth remembering that on these long rides, you will really enjoy yourself if you want to.
Another aspect of riding an audax that can be overlooked is how to answer an open-ended question while cycling uphill. In my experience there are three approaches to this:
- On your own (so people don't think you are weird) start with gentle gradients, try speaking out loud about your life story. You could be quite tired in real life situations, so learning to tell your life story without too much thought will be beneficial. Over time, build up to longer and steeper gradients and increase your repertoire of topics. If you can speak confidently on 'Campag vs Shimano' without getting out of breath on a 1 mile / 8% drag you'll be well prepared to cope with these 'listeners'. To mix it up a bit add a little Politics to your short sharp 20-25% climbs.
- Don't answer the question they asked; even if you are untrained you can take advantage of an opportunity to brainwash a dedicated listener. They will encourage you with noises like "uh-huh" and "go on", take full advantage to a pitch your new business idea, or fundamental religious belief. With practice you'll be triangle-selling in no time and can retire early on a nice little earner.
- The other option is to turn the tables... learn to ask open questions yourself. You will need to protect against accidentally really listening to anything you get in reply, just in case you become victim to scenario 2 above. Look for weaknesses; if they have an unusual bicycle ask them about it.
Whether you become proficient at asking open questions or answering them, remember that training is the key.
I hope this advice and received wisdom is beneficial in your preparation for London-Edinburgh-London 2013. One day I might be confident enough to have a go, but for the time being I will content myself with volunteering at Thirsk. In fact, it is likely that I'll get an opportunity to genuinely help tired riders; so say hello if you see me in July 2013.
Labels: audax, Long distance cycling, Training