Saturday, 9 August 2014

Windsor Chester Windsor Control point

At several points through the cycling year we hold local Audax rides - usually 50-60k, 100 or 200k distances.  They are part of the AUK (Audax UK) calender of events, which are held all over the country, all through the year.  AUK is the Long Distance Cycling organisation, and events are organised by local clubs and organisations.

That is not helping!

I volunteered with a few other Chester and North Wales members, to help man (or woman!) the control for the inaugural (or re-in statement) of the Windsor-Chester-Windsor 600k Randonnee.  The control opened at 6pm, and stayed open until 3:20am (I think).

I have a few friends who have ridden and ride long distance rides, so have heard tales of people sleeping under tables or under hedges, getting lost and other misadventures that can occur in the wee hours after riding relatively non-stop for 100+ miles!

Lowri grating more carrots
that you have ever seen before!

This event was ably organised by Daniel Webb, from Todmorden, who has himself ridden long distances and so by experience knows what the guys (only two women took part) would be going through.  There was a small team of us, making soup, sandwiches, cutting cake (from the large box full of excellent cake) making tea and then washing up through the evening and into the night.

I did not keep a close track of time (if staying till very early in the morning, I did not really want to watch time creep by slowly!), so I am guessing in this account.

Early arrivals coming in along A41
The first rider to arrive was still in daylight, so must've been about 9-9:10.  Rob was watching outside to be sure no-one went past (two riders nearly did) and to direct them in.  The riders arrived very slowly, two guys from Kingston were next, and then Joe from Chester Road Club (we had been conversing on facebook the day before about it).  At this point we still had more volunteers than riders, so I was able to chat to them.

Many dynamos, and proper (what I would call) Touring bikes, with small Carradice saddlebags.  The whole scene appeals to my old fashioned side - and I do not mean 'retro', but the cycling that I was first introduced to in the late '80's.
Early in the evening, first riders
(including Joe from Chester Road Club)

I got caught at the sink washing up at one point, while Daniel blew up four air beds with blankets for any riders who wanted to catch a few winks.  Then there was the chap who had not eaten all day, this was his first food (at 300k - 180 miles) - he maintained that his body worked best that way.  I can't do more than 30 miles without needing a little something!

unwrapping more food as the
evening progressed...
homemade soup, fresh butties
and fantastic selection of cakes!

We welcomed them in,and waved them off.  As the night wore on, about midnight, the riders were a little more bedraggled and weary (the weather forecast was to deteriorate and the remains of Hurricane Bertha was allegedly heading to the UK for Sunday)  Poor Rob was stood outside in the rain all night.  Daniel saved some of the nicer food - homemade sausage rolls- for the latecomers, as he reckoned their need would be greater!

By this time all the beds were taken (yes, even a few beds provided), one chap was accommodated across a few chairs at the side of the room, and another just rested his head on his arms at the table.  We cleared cups bowls and plates quietly from around them.  Yet another rider came in - he did not need to sleep as he had already had a snooze in a bus shelter!

I left at 00:45, with them still waiting for two riders and to wake the sleeping riders at 1:30. I felt quite special to be able to help out with this event.  Part of me is in awe and would love to be able to do that - I was thinking of the riders through Sunday wondering where they were up to - but another part of me thinks they are nutty as anything to do this!!!!
Persuaded Joe to get a badge -
who wouldn't!!!!!

Maybe I will try to do a few more 100 and 200's.  I do actually have my AUK card from a 200k in 1988, fully signed - so I think I am allowed to class myself as a Randonneur, and I did attempt the National 400k once - see photo!  However, after cycling 200k around Cheshire (mostly Cheshire Cycleway), we then headed into Wales, lighting up inLlangollen, watching the moon over Bala and being pushed the last bit from Barmouth to Tywyn (before caving in to the option of my boyfriends car).  We snoozed and woke at dawn as our riders came past - and we met them in a cafe in Bryneglwys (no longer there) for breakfast, where we chatted about cycling exploits.  Maybe one day I will do 400k.....

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