Saturday, 12 November 2011

12 Nov: "The Norfolk Nips - 1" 100km Audax

Nigel writes: Today was the first of three 100km Audax rides that start and end in Hellesdon, a northern suburb of Norwich. Ian D rode this event last year in thick fog, and was keen to ride it again - if only to see what the route looked like under normal conditions. He kindly offered Gareth and me spaces in his car to get there.

Our rendezvous point was at 7am at Brookside in Cambridge, where we loaded our bikes and ourselves into Ian's car for the drive to Norwich. We arrived at about 8.30am, in good time to collect our brevet cards and route sheets and enjoy a cup of tea before the start of the ride at 9am.

Today's event was organised by Keith Harrison and Sue Gatehouse in the name of an organisation called "NorfolknGood Audax", which despite the mischevous name provided an exceedingly well-run event from beginning to end.

Since there were well over 100 riders we were sent off in small batches a few minutes apart. I left in the first batch, with Gareth and Ian in later batches.

The weather was dull and cloudy, with the sun not making much of an appearance all day. It was very mild, however, and completely dry, and with hardly any wind it was nevertheless a pretty good day for a cycle ride in November.

The first part of the ride took us north to the coast. We were almost immediately out of the city and onto empty lanes, and although we were climbing gently I kept up a good pace from the start. In fact I was overtaken by only a dozen or so other riders during the first hour or so. However after the first info control at Weybourne I heard voices behind me, and a large peloton swept by.

I spotted Gareth somewhere in the middle and decided to catch them up and catch a ride at the back. It took me about five minutes to catch them up (I had stopped to take photos) but once I had done so I was able to relax. I had forgotten just how much shelter from the wind a peloton gives you, and as the group sped along the coast road towards Sheringham it was easy to keep up and enjoy the exhilarating ride.

The speed didn't slacken as we continued through Cromer and a succession of small seaside villages: Overstrand, Sidestrand and Trimingham. In fact the pace got even faster for the final mile or two before we reached Mundesley, and the first staffed control point of the ride. It was 1.10pm and we had cycled 61km (37 miles). As we relaxed with a cup of tea in the Jonet Cafe opposite, I recorded that my moving average speed was 28.8km/s (17.9mph) which for me is very fast indeed.

Gareth was keen to get moving again, though before we set off there was time to admire the beach behind the cafe and watch the waves.

After Mundesley the peloton separated into smaller groups and Gareth and I found ourselves riding as a group of two. We continued along the coast road, past the gas terminal at Bacton and the surfers' beaches at Walcot to arrive at a further staffed control point in a community hall in Happisburgh. It was 11.59am and we had covered 72km (45 miles). There were free refreshments available, but as we had left the cafe less than half an hour earlier we didn't stay for long and were soon on our way.

Our route now turned inland, back towards Norwich. I had only 34km (21 miles) to go back to Hellesdon, but Gareth was planning to ride all the way back to Cambridge as a "DIY Audax" so had not yet reached the half-way point of the day. Despite this, Gareth continued to set a brisk pace and as I began to tire I probably spent a less than my fair share of time at the front.

We arrived back in Hellesdon at 1.24pm. That's 106km (66 miles) in less than 4.5 hours, which Gareth thought was his fastest 100km ever. It certainly was mine.

After getting our Brevet cards stamped we collected cups of tea and bowls of soup and sat down for a rest.

After about an hour Ian arrived - he had taken the ride at a normal pace and had stopped for lunch in Sheringham. At about the same time Gareth set off with a companion for the long ride to Cambridge, with an expected arrival time of 9pm.

Ian dropped me off at home in Cambridge just after 5pm. I had ridden 66 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map


  1. Some typos: Cambridge, peloton, 11:10 am.

    This was my fastest ever 100, thanks to the tandem of Lindsay Clayton and Chris Smith, who were really going for it on the flat bits near the start. They delivered me (and several other riders) to the back of the fast group being towed along by the Norwich ABC (Amateur Bicycle Club). The reason why it took so long to catch you was that there were quite a lot of narrow lanes near the start that got a bit jammed up, with faster groups unable to overtake slower riders.

    I thought the organization was great. Hardly any queuing at the controls, and the food was really good. Chapeau to Keith and Sue!

    Lars Ericsson and I had a good ride back via Wymondham, Great Hockham, Brandon, Mildenhall, Fordham, and Burwell. Thetford Forest feels rather remote and lonely in the dark. I got home at 21:12 (thanks to a puncture) having ridden 227 km (141 miles).

    And thank you, Ian, for the lift.

  2. I can heartily recommend the slower version at a mere 14.2 average speed. The cake is excellent at the North Norfolk Railways buffet, and you may get to see a steam train!

  3. Thanks for the corrections, Gareth. I've updated the text. Yes, I didn't how to spell "peloton". In over three years of ride reports, this is the first one that has ever contained that word. Which says something about the type of rides we normally do...