Tour of the Hills – The changing face of Britain

I rode the Tour of the Hills yesterday. It was my first Audax. An Audax is, if you like, a thinking man’s sportive. Basically it’s a ride where you have to find your own way round. The organiser will post the route often with detailed instructions and then you pass various check points and get you card stamped. Audax United Kingdom is the internationally recognised long distance cycling association in the UK. Usually referred to as Audax UK or AUK, it was established in 1976. Audax UK oversees the running of long distance cycling events in the UK. The cycling events listed in their calendar will take you on some of the best roads for cycling in the UK. The rides are open to everyone and will only cost about six quid with tea and cakes thrown in. There are a wide range of rides (from about 50km up to 600km). The most famous Audax that I know of is the PBP Paris – Brest – Paris a staggering 1200km.

Yesterdays ride was over 115km covering 2,300m of climbing including many climbs and descents recently seen on the Olympic road races. Many of these roads were so quiet that we hardly saw any cars but we did see riders. Hundreds of them! Anyone would think that Britain was a fully fledge member of the E.U.  When we got to Box Hill it was more jammed than an Alpine climb in August. As we rode past the steady stream of riders it was easy to forget that there were riders descending at the same time – a bit hairy!. This thank fully was our only traffic hazard. I can’t say that it is impossible to drive up Box Hill on a Sunday but if you have a car or motor bike I’d suggest going up the other way. The Box Hill Zig-Zag must be the most beautifully prepared cycle route in the UK – it’s like riding up velvet – part of the Olympic legacy, thanks Seb! Some of the other roads were not quite so good.

I recently wrote that I just don’t get punctures. Struggling to figure out how to set up the course on my Garmin Edge 200 I put my glasses on and was shocked to see the state of my tyres. I’ve never used a tyre for more than a year but these Ultremo ZXs have been so good that I’ve kept them on for 15 puncture free months and they looked it. Needless to say I got 4 punctures, fortunately I decided to carry an extra tube but 4 flats and 2 tubes meant a bit of repair work. Until the first flat I was unaware of the oppressive hot and humid conditions as the bike speed had kept me comfortable. Whilst fixing punctures the heat was so unbearable that I even considered packing.

The ride was stunningly beautiful, very hilly and, surprisingly, I didn’t find it that hard. I was worried by the distance having been off the bike for a bit so kept the speed steady which proved a good move. The rest had probably done me good. Distance and toughness of climbs is relative so if you think that this should go down as a tough day, bare a thought for Jes. He is training for the Cents cols Challenge so as he needs some endurance to be fit for his epic 10 day event (10 cols per day, 5,000m per– 100 mountain passes!) he rode up from Worthing, did the Tour of the Hills and then road back home! Beat that!

If you feel inspired to ride, sign up for the Southern Sportive, you’ll love it!

Here is the route if you want to down load it. It looks as if I didn’t switch is of until we started the drive back: Garmin connect

Nutrition in this order: 1 x SIS Go Gel, 1 x SIS Go berry bar, 1 x Torq gel, 1 x ZipVit bar, 1 x ZipVit Caffeine Gel, 1 x SIS Go Berry caffeine Gel. Plus 2 750ml  bottles of ZipVit Elite  and 2 750ml bottles of water.

Quest Adventure website

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