The blowout on my rear tyre was fairly loud, the inner tube was shredded and the tyre wall was split – but a ‘petrolhead’ angel came to my rescue: my January audax was saved by a farmer with a pickup truck. What a wonderful world.
The day had started with a tough ride south, over the Humber Bridge and into Lincolnshire. Although it was rush hour I didn’t feel like a hazard or in danger cycling along the A1077 through South Ferriby, then the B1430 through Flixborough. I’ve accepted that winter audaxing is safer on main roads, and often quicker too. I’ve also accepted that sometimes you just have to deal with the wind and the rain.
I had learned from my Durham-to-Hull adventure that cycling with a tailwind all day, supported by a train ride, made long distance winter cycling a lot more fun. So today as I crossed Keadby Bridge I was looking forward to 100 miles of tailwind on my journey to Darlington. In addition to this, my day brightened because someone in Luddington had gone to a lot of trouble to make cyclists feel welcome:
The delights kept coming too: as I reached Eastoft I saw a sign diverting all motorised traffic south because of roadworks between Swinefleet and Goole. The impact of this was that I had a wide well-surfaced road – no traffic – 8 miles to Goole with a tailwind. And then the sun came out. Seriously – the weather was warm, the sun was shining and I was bobbing along at nearly 20mph.
As lunchtime loomed I was looking for somewhere to rest up and grab some food, and then I arrived in Stamford Bridge. The coffee and food I bought at ‘Bridge Rolls’ was delicious: a half-filled jacket potato with lemon-pepper chicken, a black coffee and a bakewell tart. I’m trying to remember to eat properly on these long rides – I think some of my tiredness comes from not refilling the legs with power.
With a full belly I carried on – and on – and on. My mind was wandering and I wondered what it would be like to cycle with others. After so many miles on my own – will I be able to ride in a group in February? And then, in the middle of brain-wandering and making good time: BANG rumblerumblerumeble…
My rescuer drove me to Northallerton and dropped me off at Cowleys, where the helpful staff reminded me that my audax had to continue from the point I’d been rescued. That meant a 12km ride south into a headwind, before turning round and riding back to, through, and beyond Northallerton. The whole episode delayed my ride by about an hour. This was the moment when I discovered that the “Randonneur Round the Year” award was motivating me to get out and ride – and keep riding. Last month I had been grumbling about this – this month I’m merrily retracing a route to make sure the validation is secure.
I have found it difficult to say anything nice about this ride – it was a mainroad bash for the sake of getting the miles in safely. But it reminded me that even these rides can have their blessings – such as surprising sun and warmth in the middle of January – the generosity of strangers – and the pies. Eating a pie and drinking a pint of stout at the end of a long day’s riding is very rewarding. All I had to do next was stay awake on the last train home from Darlington to Brough.