A bunch of known people at the start Gavin, Omar, Sarah, Jasmijn and Chris at the start. Jasmijn and Chris were going to ride full speed and they finished in something like 16 hours. Gavin, Omar, Sarah and myself formed the Kingston Wheelers train.
It didn't work very well at the beginning. Gavin disappeared, I was hesitant whether he was ahead or behind us. The rest of us were riding in a group with two more riders moving at a decent speed but around km30 I needed a pee stop so dropped and let the group go.
When I jumped back on the bike I felt swamped with negative thoughts. This is not usual in me but suddenly I found myself thinking "oh, there is a bit of head wind", "oh, a whole week without riding. I was traveling, working a lot and sleeping little the whole week", "it is too cold (Garmin says around 0C)", "the scale said I had gained 2.5kg in one week (how is that even possible???)". It was like all excuses I could found were visiting my brain. At a certain point I thought about quitting, but discarded the idea. I'd love to say it was my commitment what kept me pedaling but the reality is I kept pedaling mainly because around 45k in I didn't know my way back to the start.
It seemed that I was going to ride alone the whole way so I decided to take it easy. By the time I made it to the first control Omar, Sarah and Gavin (who turned out to be ahead of us) were there almost ready to go and wondering where I was. I excused myself, got the sticker at the cafe, quick visit to the toilet and jumped on the bike. I was really happy of having a second opportunity to join the KW's train.
It turned out we ended up riding the whole route together. And that is not an easy thing; not only a certain match of physical ability is required, you also need to agree to a riding/stopping pace that fits to everyone. As I say, not easy when riding 400k, especially if the members don't have that much experience riding together, but that was our case. A little miracle.
Riding in the group I started to feel better. I guess temperature increased, it was easier to hide from the wind and I definitively was enjoying the company. By the time we got to Yat Rock I felt so great I decided to give push it in the climb. Good feelings and good power numbers but not a PB because we got stuck by the cars at the beginning of the climb.
At the last control (314k) a rider joined us. I recognized him (Adrian???) as one of the riders in the group we started riding early in the morning. Omar knew him. At this point there were two options in the route. We could either opt for a bumpy ride in B roads or a flatish ride on the A4. Being already around 21:00 we figured the A road would not have that much traffic so we opted for that one. Unfortunately I didn't have that route on my GPS so had to rely on Omar and Adrian as they were the ones that knew the route.
This last section, around 90km, was super easy. Riding in a group of five I tried a couple of times to take a turn on the front but couldn't figure out how to coordinate with Omar and Adrian so ended up falling at the back of the group. We kept the formation (Omar and Adrian taking turns in the front, then Gavin, then Sarah and me closing the group) pretty much to the end of the ride.
Riding that easy the last section meant I finish not that tired. I think I have never finished an Audax event as fresh as this one and still we managed to finish in exactly 19 hours; faster than any 400 I have ridden in a group slower than any 400 that I have ridden alone. Who would have told me when I was thinking about quitting at the beginning of the day. The miracle of riding in a good group.
Now looking forward to riding Bryan Chapman 600 in two weeks.
The ride in Strava
Javier Arias González