After nearly a year of riding at least one 200km event each calendar month, this June morning I woke up at 2:20am ready to ride an Extended Calendar Event Audax. Actually, I woke up late, because I’d set my alarm for 1:30am and slept through it. I had entered the Beverley 100 Audax event from Hook near Goole, and thought that I could extend it to 300km by riding to the start from Durham, then riding from the finish back to York. Loosely the plan was to ride 100 miles to the start, ride a 60 mile event, and ride 40 miles to the station afterwards. But 2:20am was a bit late for my plan, I was out of the house and on the road by 2:30m with 6.5 hours to cover about 100 miles.
Thankfully there was no wind, the night was warm and on top of this I only had about one hour of night riding before it started to get light, and by 4:30am the sun was rising. The roads were totally empty and I had the pleasure of riding the A167, the A168 and the A19 all the way down to York with barely a dozen cars passing me.
With only one or two comfort stops, I just kept a good pace riding south through Darlington, Northallerton, Thirsk and York and was leaving York by 6:30am well ahead of schedule. To make the distance at least 150km, I rode now on deserted country lanes to Cawood and Selby before using the most direct route to Goole and Hook. I made it – 156km in about 5hrs 50mins, giving me 40 minutes to sign on at the start and grab some breakfast.
The organiser, Harvey, was welcoming everyone who’d arrived and there was a really good turnout, at least 50 riders were getting ready for the day, and it was promising to be a very warm day indeed. I met a couple from Selby who were in their first Audax season – and doing extremely well having completed 200, 300, 400 and 600km distances already and preparing for the Mille Pennines in July. Everyone seemed really happy and relaxed and ready for a nice day out cycling.
The route started out nice and flat as we left Hook and rode underneath the M62, then taking the right turn to cross the Boothferry Bridge and riding straight towards Howden. We then followed a bit of the Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route through Kilpin, Laxton and Blacktoft before joining some off-road sections and a control point at Weighton Lock.
Riders had remained together, comfortably enjoying a sedate pace until we hit the gravel sections and everyone started cautiously picking their way through the stones. After Weighton Lock, we headed towards the Wolds through Ellerker and at Brantingham we hit the first hill of the day, the 125m climb from 4m above sea-level up Bilks Hill through Ellerker North Wold. There were a couple of steep sections which had riders – (well, me) – slowing a lot. But as we popped up to the top we’d finished the climbing for the first half of the route and now just had some gentle undulations until we reached Beverley. The sky was absolutely clear blue and I was glad to have lathered myself with sunscreen lotion. I sat up on the descent into Beverley and enjoyed the super-smooth road and the beautiful views of Beverley Minster and the Westwood.
I rolled into town and Harvey was there ahead of us, stamping Brevet cards in the market square. I was now over halfway for the whole day with 200km covered of the 300km planned. I sat with a rider called Mark from Goole, at an excellent cafe. Vanessa’s Cafe served absolutely perfect coffee in expensive crockery along with a mouth-watering raspberry tart. I understand Vanessa is a cyclist herself and organises a lot of rides for women from the Beverley area. Her cafe was just brilliant and good value for money – somewhere I’ll be going back to.
The ride leaves Beverley and climbs over the Westwood again on a different road past the racecourse, heading for North Newbald. With the bright blue sky, and the green and yellow fields, I felt immersed in the Yorkshire colours, I was alone now and riding quietly along enjoying a relaxed ride in the warmth of the noonday sun.
In North Newbald I had to double check and circle the village centre, there was a Linux Pub – the Gnu Inn. Brilliant! I haven’t seen an open source pub before and was quite excited about that. I was now lost in the East Riding of Yorkshire, following the route sheet to place-names I didn’t know, along lanes I’ve never ridden before. This is one of the beauties of Audax riding – being given a route sheet of the best riding available and left to get on and enjoy yourself. I’m moving down to the East Riding of Yorkshire in July and after this introduction I’m very excited about exploring the cycling down there.
Eventually I was caught by a fast group, including the two riders from Selby I’d met at the start – so I tagged along for a tow home. We had far enough to go that there was plenty of chat and it was interesting to learn about the adventures my two new friends from Selby have in store. I hope the weather holds for their Scotland adventure. We swept back across Boothferry Bridge and left into Hook for a fast finish to this really lovely 100km Audax.
I treated myself to a Sunday lunch and spent some time with Harvey talking about Audax opportunities in the East Riding. I’m keen to start organising events again and I hope there is the appetite for some audaxing among local riders.
After lunch it was time for the final leg of my Extended Calendar Audax, a simple ride back for 50km to get to York. I chose to ride the A63 back to Selby instead of the Drax Power Station route, and then was back into empty lanes to Cawood and north to Naburn. I had to make the route at least 50km for validation purposes, so took the river crossing to Acaster Malbis and Copmanthorpe before finally heading into York Station. 4:30pm I arrived at York Tap for a beer – covering this flat and yet scenic 300km event in 14 hours exactly, in fact I was home by 6pm and relaxing in the shower before bed.
The other interesting thing about this ride was that it was my final qualifying ride for the ‘Randonneur Round the Year‘ (RRtY) award. It has been very challenging to ride at least one 200km event every calendar month, but I managed it. I know there are Audaxers who’ve completed multiple RRtYs each year, or even ‘Super Randonneur Round the Year’: a 200, 300, 400 and 600km event every month for a year. That’s the great thing about audaxing; there is always someone tougher, harder, faster and stronger… and totally nuts… ahead of you down the road. Only Audaxing can make some of the rides I do seem ‘normal’. Thank you Audax UK. And thank you Harvey for continuing to run the Beverley 100: what a fantastic event!