This is an annual event which starts in Cheadle heads out to “The Mills” then down to Bangor on Dee across to Astbury, near Congleton, and finally back to the start. I have ridden it a few times now and it always seems to rise to the challenge of making Audax events uncertain in their outcome. Yesterday proved no exception.
Weaver Valley were well represented at the start with myself, Jim and Geoff and Stuart ( I hope I have the correct spelling). I met up with another rider, Winston, who I have accompanied over the years. After the usual tea and pleasantries we were given the off. 65 riders began to roll away. I set off with Winston, Jim waited for Geoff and Stuart. I thought it wouldn’t be long before Jim would lead the train to catch us. We trundled through Cheadle out to the airport, no Jim. Then down the road to the airport tunnel to the right turn to Ashley, where I punctured. Not great as fingers were cold and the thorn was ridiculously small. Whilst fixing this the other 3 WVCC members appeared. Jim had punctured at the start.
Puncture fixed we carried on for a while as a group. It became apparent the roads were covered in ice and I became very cautious especially after I after lost my front wheel. I stayed upright but the rapid correction did a little damage to my thumb. So our group split Jim eventually catching and riding with the other two, whilst Win and I plodded. Sadly, we past one rider waiting for an ambulance. Later we found out he was treated and able to get back to the start
Just before the drop on to the main road near Sutton Weaver we saw Jim fixing another puncture. He gave us the nod he was ok and told us to carry on. It was a relief to be on the main road and whilst still not motoring, because I can’t, we picked up some speed. By Mickle Trafford I was thinking Jim might have caught us but he hadn’t. On past the Outlet village and the main drag to Capenhurst still no Jim. The Mills and still no Jim.
The Mills was heaving so we bounced the control and decided a Co-op was a less time consuming stop. After all they are “Gud With Fud”. Text Jim to hear the bad news 3 punctures before the Mills, enough even for a fully grown audaxer to question the “fun” involved, he decided to refuel and head for home.
Over the next few miles the weather was decent the roads generally good. Through Pulford, Rossett, Gresford then down to Bangor on Dee. We slowly began to reel some of the quicker riders in. As is the way we formed small groups then some fell away. Win and I past Stuart and Geoff fixing a puncture and it turned out this was not their only mishap. Stuart had come off on the ice earlier in the day. In so doing bent his derailleur. He nearly became a “Fearon” I say nearly as he had a choice of 2 gears, big ring or small ring. He was on those two most of the ride. Eventually we got to the Ice Cream Farm in time for a late lunch.
After the break a group of 5 of us left for Astbury 2 Chester road club riders trikie Dave Jackson with Win and I. By 4.30 lights were needed and we had to return to a more cautious riding as the temperature dropped. Again it was a relief to hit the A34 at Astbury the final control. Here another short break at a garage for a refuel, chocolate not diesel, and then decision time. More lanes or an A road bash. The rules of audax allow any route to be taken between controls, the route sheet should be the shortest. There was no real contest, from a safety point of view slightly more traffic is a better option than dodgy lanes.
End result 132 miles 1400metres of climbing in just under 12 hours. Shortly after Stuart and Geoff arrived. Stuart certainly had a tough introduction to the wacky world of the long distance rider – chapeau.