The Character Building Winter Boat Ride, 213km Audax

We’ll shortly be publishing a series of articles about our very own @BazVelo's training schedule ahead of his 2019 Transatlantic Way Race which starts in June. The very nature of a relatively early season 2000km Ultra Endurance race means training needs to start early, and the fact that TAW take part almost entirely on the Atlantic Coast means harsh weather will be the norm… queue the perfect training… An early Feb 213km Audax in Wind, Rain and Hail.

The Winter Boat Audax is a 213km return loop that heads out from Uxbridge that heads out through Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire to near Milton Keynes, Towcester and Silverstone taking in the low rolling slopes but avoiding most of the big climbs that these areas could have offered making it s challenging distance but a relatively kind selection of roads.

My winter training prior to the Audax consisted of 2-3 days a week of commuting all through the winter months to keep some level of consistency, and around 500km of distance made up of weekend club rides usually around 6080km and a bigger one of 125km towards late Jan. I felt as though this, along with the very recent addition a Wahoo Kickr that I’d smashed just a couple of hard sessions out on had really given me a good base and confidence to head out on this big solo ride.

For challenging rides, I always find preparation and nutrition in the lead up to the ride is key to how I feel physically and emotionally on the day - so I made sure I had no wine (sad face) and plenty of early nights in the lead up to the ride, got everything packed away the night before and loaded the bike into the car for the start on the Sunday morning.

It had been cold and windy for a few days prior, and the forecast looked similar with maybe some rain so I opted for SealSkin socks and Shoe Covers along with Void soft shell shower-proof jacket and Metier waterproof Gillet - Its a combination I’m happy with in light rain as it dries off very fast and offers very good wind protection without cooking me like boil in the bag!

Nutrition on the day for me probably requires a whole article of itself, I eat a predominantly ketogenic diet and find it suits me exceptionally in endurance rides as your body is fuelled by fat (I’m around 17% body fat, so I carry plenty!) and you do not need to deal with carbohydrate depletion or the 100km bonk! So to say, breakfast for me was 2x Rib-eye steaks and 4x egg scrambled - I packed away an Avocado and Milk protein shake for just before the ride too. I know I can ride 125-150km on this without the need for anything other than water so I was interested to see how I coped with 213km.

The ride started with a cold and wet 8am kick-off from Uxbridge, very quickly kicking out over the top High Wycombe towards Aylesbury. The weather stayed consistent, by which I mean consistently wet… With around 150 starters and slippery roads I decided it was safer to fly out fast a stick with the front group if I could, the pace was great and averaged around 30km for the first 100km - sometimes drying off, but always coming back the weather was tough and certainly at that point the biggest challenge was staying warm. I regretted fingerless gloves and my shoes had let water in from the underside - note to self, buy better winter shoes!

At 110km there was an Audax control where people stopped for lunch, the front group of 20 or so had fallen down to a group of 4, so we stopped to re-fuel, grab fresh waters and check over the bikes. I wasn’t really hungry but decided to eat to prevent running out of energy later and ordered chicken bacon and broccoli (no carbs remember). I’d been a little frustrated with the setup on my front mech so had a fiddle that resulting in the over tightening of the cable and loss of the front mech all together (cold hand & a rush to move on = dodgy mechanic!). So…. I removed the mech all together to get it out the way and opted to lock the big ring for the rest of the day. This fiddling also meant the front 3 had moved on, so I set out solo to chase from home for the final 100km.

The loop back to London is a stunning route past various lakes, rivers and canals around Buckingham and Tring which is largely flat, and thankfully on the day provided a tail wind that after an initial downpour of hail helped blow the bad weather away and helped maintain a healthy pace all the way back to London.</p>

I glimpsed the front 3 briefly at a service station which provided motivation to chase, but ultimately a chase is all that it ever was, I arrived into Uxbridge a few minutes after them.


All in all, thats my largest single day ride, my first Audax, and feel delighted that I felt fantastic throughout, I met some amazing characters, rode tough conditions solo for several hours - it was everything I needed to face in the journey to my TransAtlanticWay Race where my intention is to ride over 200km every day for 7-9 days to complete the 2000km.

Next up…. Plenty more club rides, Shark 200km Audax, Brevet Cymru 400km Audax and loads more on the Kickr.

Update: In the lead-up to the Transatlanticway, I fell sick with a very nasty viral chest infection. Antibiotics wouldn’t clear it, so I had to sit out and dogwatch from afar… I’ll be riding 2020 so look forward to hitting the training plan again Dec-Jun next year.

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