Last Sunday (29th October), WCC riders were out on a couple of traditional and popular fixtures on the Audax UK calendar, namely the “Dartmoor Devil” and the “Emitremmus”. Both rides are 100+km long but are quite different in profile.
The Dartmoor Devil
Marianne has focused her recent training on the rigours that the Dartmoor Devil will deliver. This ride is a famous Audax fixture and it demands a lot of respect. It is rated as a “AAA” event, which stands for “Audax Altitude Award”. In simple words it is a flippin’ ‘ard day out on a bike!
The Devil starts from Bovey Tracey, climbing up onto the high moors via pretty villages, narrow lanes and steep hills. It finishes back at in Bovey Tracey after tackling the infamous Widecombe Hill.
Marianne has had her eye on the Devil for sometime and this year was going to be her year. On Sunday morning she was ready and waiting on the start line, facing a 111km ride with 2,500 metres of climbing! Taking place in autumn makes it even more of a challenge, with less hours of daylight and plenty of late season weather to add further spices.
In Audax circles, such rides with lots of climbing are described as scenic! As Marianne says “The vistas were fantastic, well worth the effort”. She added that “…. some hills were very challenging for me and I had to stop for a breather”. As well as the hills being steep, there there was the legendary quality of our roads to add further excitment. Marianne said “… at times, I was going so slowly, putting so much effort in, I couldn’t guide the bike around all the potholes, so had to get off and walk until the road improved.”
Weather conditions on the ride were mixed. She reported that “the first two to three hours were typically sunny Autumnal weather, after that, it rained sporadically, but not for long.”
The Devil throws plenty of challenges your way and the Audax time limit for the 111km ride is an exacting 8 hours and 53 minutes. As Marianne finished she thought the worst. She said “I really thought I was out of time and shocked I had 10 minutes to spare, so to celebrate I bought the badge the organiser was selling.”
Chapeau Marianne and it’s a very nice badge it is too!
The “Emitremmus” is a companion ride to the “Summer Time Special”. The Emitremmus is traditionally held on the day the clocks go back in October, whilst the “Summer Time Special” is held at the other end of the summer, when the clocks spring forward. So why is it called the Emitremmus? Well, it’s “Summertime” spelt backwards….. geddit??? This passes for funny in the Audax world :o)
This is the first of a few Audax rides that Ian Oliver has hand picked as being a good introduction for members wanting to try Audax, whilst still being interesting for old hands at this curiously addictive type of riding. The ride start is in Stevenage, where the cycle path rules, and then heads over to Saffron Walden, before the return back to the finish.
Four of the Willesden CC made the start, Dan, John W, Vyvien and myself. We all met in a cafe at the start, which seemed to have a unique ordering system and a rather random approach to serving hot drinks.
Club Chairman John summed up the beginning of the day – “The start cafe was slightly disappointing, as you needed to have ordered everything weeks ahead, but the sun was out and the roads were very quiet. Some lovely scenic villages on a great route.” We can’t really report on the state of the potholes, as for a good part of the ride the road (and any holes!) were invisible under large expanses of muddy flood water.
On the ride out to Saffon Walden we serendipitously met up with the famous Hippy from the Willesden CC. He was at the side of the road with Mrs Hippy, who was putting the finishing touches to fixing her punctured rear wheel.
The ride passed through great handfuls of pretty villages and we gazed upon thatched cottage after thatched cottage. As the ride passed through Manuden we stopped for photos of Vyv outside the house where she grew up.
We arrived at Saffron Walden after 65km of riding and we had to hunt down our own cafe, as there was no organised stop. At this point we had our second serendipitous moment, a perfect cafe appeared with next to zero faffing about. As soon as we were seated inside we were amazed by a beyond-epic downpour. We could scarcely believe we had dodged it! The cafe was bustling and its service was a blend of friendly and slow. But we were unperturbed as the rain was proving stubborn to any suggestion of stopping and moving on to some where else. John continued his patient vigil for his first coffee of the day – it turned up just before noon. When the food arrived it was high quality, delicious and more than ample.
The return leg was a good twenty km shorter than the outward route. Riding home we were treated to a number of halloween displays.
Unusually for a short distance Audax, the finish was in a different place to the start. It was not all bad news as John reports –
“The finish was 8k from the start BUT IT WAS IN A PUB! We duly honoured WCC tradition and ours were the only bikes outside, as darkness descended. The route back took us almost to the start, via a few identical looking dogging car parks but we made it back without incident. A Grand Day Out.”
After the unnecessary excursion we arrived back to our cars in total darkness. Everyone else had been and gone! It was a great ride and one we should do as a club ride in the summer of 2024.
If you have not done an Audax ride before or are fairly new to this enjoyable cycling discipline then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Audax UK’s web site gives a great explanation of this non-competetive alternative to the more expensive Sportive.