A Shropshire Lad 80 km


As I had been out of the saddle for a while I thought a short audax was a good idea; 80 km is the shortest one I have done so far.  This was a brilliant route on a clear day – as this one was – starting by going past The Wrekin, then south west parallel to Wenlock Edge which was covered in colourful trees. The first control, Jessamine Cottage, was a cafe run from a very large shed. Presumably they have a long-standing relationship with the local organiser, as coffee and cake here was included in the £6 entrance fee (as was food at the start and end, it was excellent value!).
Bike at an audax control
The second control was at Acton Scott farm, which appears to be a working museum, though obviously there wasn’t time for a look around. I got lucky and joined the queue just before hoards of hungry cyclists – at least one of the longer rides was stopping here at around the same time.

The final leg was the longest (not by much) and included the highest point but was also wind-assisted, past Hope Bowlder Hill. Due to the relatively short distance and good turnout I think I was in view of others nearly all the time. I rode with one chap on and off on the middle section, I think he knew vaguely where he was going so had a route map and very well used OS map in his pocket, and was supplementing these by following people when they were available (and I think I provided a bit of a wind shield for a while, he was obviously an old hand at group riding and quite happy right up behind others peoples wheels, whereas it scares me and I keep my distance). For the final stretch I was just behind a couple of others; I don’t think I’ve actually finished with people before, so it was quite nice.

It’s been too long…but I was pleased that I didn’t have to walk up any hills and wasn’t destroyed by the end, I felt strong and I could have gone further, so a few months off haven’t done any damage. Also I think the spinning classes, whilst being from the devil, are excellent training. Part of me thinks it’s daft to drive 60 miles each way to cycle 50, but audax riding gives me such a buzz that, ironically, it’s not about numbers.

Shropshire Lad

51 miles, 5 hours 18 mins