A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Chippenham Wheelers Autumn Audax 75k - 2006 Autumn Audax 75k - 2006

I joined Chippenham & District Wheelers cycle club in October so that I could get some training/advice about my planned 3 Peaks, 2 Legs and a Bike challenge of next year.

I had done one 'Easy ride' in October mainly to get a feel for what 'easy' means to cyclists, I do not regard myself as a cyclist... yet. this ride went OK, at a pace that was comfortable for riding and carrying out a converstion at the same time.
This Audax was the next step in my cycling (discounting the cycling back after the Over the Hills race), a longer distance ride which is not a race but your average speed must be between 9mph and 19 mph. There was no danger of me going too fast.
The wind had dropped considerable from the day before, and the weather was stable and a good temperature for cycling. I rode to the start of the Audax with Eric who lives just down the road from me, it took about an hour.
I was expecting people to be riding in ones and twos and was pleased to find that everyone stated together. After a few miles the 27 riders who took part had split into 3 groups and I settled at the back of the middle one. I commented to Steve/Simon(?) who I was alongside that this was fine while we stayed with the group which we did not think would be a problem. We were going at a comfortable speed.
Almost as soon as I'd said 'We should be ok keeping up with the group', I got a puncture and lost the group!
Other cyclists passed me offing help but as it was 'only a puncture' I turned these offers down, I mend punctures on my mountain bike without problems.
It turns out that road bike punctures require a bit more care and less haste to fix them efficiently. I'm not sure how long it took me to finally get the puncture fixed, between hour and an hour.
I eventually got going knowing that I wouldn't catch up with the others, but always hoping that just around the next bend I'd get a glimpse of someone.
As I arrived at the Cotswold Centre, the half way point, most of the others were leaving. I saw Andy as he left and he told me he had waited as long as he could at the 'Road Closed'/muddy section but because I was so far behind he had had to continue on. I did not think there was anything unusual in the amount of mud on the road, but that is probably because I don't regard myself as a 'cyclist' having done all my riding until August on a mountain bike.
After a break at the Cotswold Centre for a baguette and pot of tea, I left with Gwen and Roy. We were the last to leave; although at no point during the day did I feel any time pressures. I was completely unaware of the time as my intention had just been to ride around, and if I didn't make any time checkpoints it didn't matter.
We soon caught up with a couple of other riders and Gwen and Roy said they would stay with them, so I carried on.
The riding was a bit more into the wind which was noticeable but not strong, I was following the route description without any problems and there were only a couple more directions to go when I got another puncture. I had patched this and was about to put my inner tube back on when Gwen and Roy arrived, Gwen offered me her spare inner tube to save me having problems one of the two patches that were now on what had been a new tube in the morning.
The 3 of us then rode to the end together, making it in just under the 5 hour cut off.
I was feeling a bit more tired than I would have expected but this was probably because I was trying to catch up with people, unsuccessfully, for most of the day.
All I had to do now was ride the 6 miles home. Eric had finished 1 before so he was probably at home with his feet up by now. With the cycle there and back it was 98km round trip for my 72km Audax.
Looking at some of the statistics of my ride: My elapsed time was just under 5hrs, actual riding time was just under 3 hours, so repairing punctures and lunch had taken 2 hours. My average speed excluding the non-riding time was 15mph.
Things that I have learnt from this ride are:
. I need new tyres to reduce the risk of punctures
. I need to take more time/care in repairing punctures/replacing inner tubes
. I should carry at least 2 new inner tubes
I actually ended up riding about 50k of this on my own, which is pretty much how expected it to be, but I did not think it would be because of punctures. So from my point of view a successful ride, I got around and had the bonus of learning a bit about fixing punctures.
I'll be doing another one of these with new types and inner tubes, I hope the weather will be as pleasant as it was on this ride.