Technology and the Audax Altitude Award Round The Year

AAARTY and Technology.

Well, it not quite the end of the year yet for us, but for Audax UK, October the 31st was the final day of the season. I have worked hard on my rides this year; and as an avid badge collector I have amounted a good pile of them. My most coverted award is the AAA or the Audax Altitude Award badge and for the past 2 years, I have been busying myself and pushing my bike in an upward manner. Last year, I managed about 30 AAA points. This year, a hefty 50.5AAA points, which amounts to about 50,000 m of climbing thoughout the year.

The Calf of Mann The Calf of Mann, photo taken from the Sound

To claim your AAA badge for the year, you need to cycle at least 50km rides that amount to at least 1000m of climbing each. I didn’t do any 50km rides, I prefer to do 100kms ones. In this season of Audax, I have managed to cycle 22 Audax rides out of this list, one was a 200km ride with 3.5AAA points and one was a 150km ride again with 3.5 AAA points. All of them bar 3 (Scotland x 1 and Yorkshire x 2)were cycled here at home on the island, and the rest were all 100km rides.

Oh, and you need to do an AAA accredited Audax ride for each calendar month of the year to boot. Thus its title. AAARTY Audax Altitude Award Round the Year.

Each year, I try to outdo my self. At some point I will reach a maximum I suppose, as eventually my spare personal time will simply maximise the amount of cycling Im able to do.

Problem of trying to cycle an Audax round the year, is of course Mr Weather. It can be hard fitting in the time and hours of a long ride when ice, snow and gales decide if the house gets cleaned that day, or the Enid comes out of her shed for some wheel spinning. Last year, snow stopped play to a point, although I did manage an Audax 100km on closed roads!. This year, not snow, but gales. I am happy to cycle in the rain. Happy to get all cosy in warm gear and get out there in the cold, so long as the gritter has been out and about. But the gales…

Our ferry has been badly affected by the gales, many of which have been storm force. I was all ready to visit my daughter in Lancaster last month, and the ferry scuppered it. The Ben, not only didn’t sail, but some how the gales caused her to puncture her hull as she was blown onto the harbour on one of her many crossings. I feel sorry for the crew sailing in such conditions. I can only assume you get used to being sick and feeling green for hours at a time. Maybe Mick can enlighten us, he must have years of sea legs beneath him.

The weekend of the 10 December, saw fabulous sunshine and only a 20 mph wind. I was off, it was going to be now or never. Its always more difficult to get an Audax ridden near the festive season, it gets frowned upon if I don’t get the shopping done, and the house fixed up and the cats blankets washed.

My ride was a good one, and one I had not Audaxed before. From home to the Sound, via the coastal road, then up the Sloc to the Round Table, then down to Foxdale – café stop, then onwards to home via the coast again, then on to Ramsey and back.

I was up very early, but there was thick ice following a hail storm over night. So I ate more and sat with the cats waiting for the thaw. Finally at 8.45am I was able to set off. The day was cold. I was wearing Paramo Velez Light trousers over my cycle shorts, with my Paramo Velez smock, plus a woollen buff and overshoes. My breath would have hung in the air, had the wind not snatched it away the moment it left my lungs.

This ride is hard work. Its worth about 2 AAA points, has just over 2,000m of climbing to be done and it was cold, very very cold.

The first part of the ride I have done many many times before. I watched hopefully out to sea to view perhaps dolphin or even better an Orca, but no, they had more sense than to visit our shores today.

Morning Glory Morning Glory, as the sun peaks through the clouds

I reached the road leading down to the Sound, at the bottom of this long winding road was my GPS control. Getting to the bottom, I took some pictures of the Calf. The Calf is a large outcrop of rocks and land. Now un inhabited, but not so long ago it was farmed. The only resident now only in the summer months is the bird sanctuary resident, taking bird samples and making statistical notes of the wildlife on the island.

After a sandwich and a swig of water, that was so cold it gave me brain freeze, I started the long slog of a climb to the top of the road. As I reached the point where I turned left and down the long steep decline into Port Erin, I spotted by brother in a car, we waved, and I had this mad idea of sharing a cup of tea in the visitors centre with him. So I turned about and sailed the 2 miles back down the hill, with my ears freezing off, and my nose feeling sore and red from blowing it so frequently.

I caught up with him, to see his car and himself turning in the car park and going BACK up the bloomin hill…. He shouted to me out of the window….’ Not stopping Sis, see you at work!” and off he went!

And after this huge disappointment, Enid and I dragged our tired selves back up to the top …

The rest of the ride went by as they usually do, slowly but steadily. By about 1.30pm I reached Foxdale and was settling down in the tea room at Ard Jecykyl the animal sanctuary for some home make cake and a huge pot of tea.

The wind had died down somewhat, and soon I was back on the road, I cycled past home, and onward to Ramsey. Down into the town to another GPS Control, it was a good day, I was feeling good, tired but warm and there was some energy left in the legs. The final hard hill is the Ballure road I was pleased not to be cycling maughold, as there is still a hill there that I still have to walk up.

Enid has a lie down Trying to be 'Arty' here, like Patrick, ok, ok... its a very bad attempt... 🙂

By 4.30pm I was cycling up the final little hillock where our cottage lies and I was home.

Have you ever experienced true disappointment in a task? Im sure you all have at some time in your lives. Some times things are sent to try us out are they not, to create character and to make us better people.

Does this include your GPS unit?? (Almost an Ex GPS unit)

I parked Enid against the shed door, and I unpacked my stuff. I am using the new Etrex 30. Got it in October. I don’t have a bracket for it to go on the bike, so I keep it in my topbar bag. As I pulled it out to see my average speed etc, I noticed it was off. I plugged it into my computer, and it seems the almost brand new but cheap as chips branded batteries only lasted as long as Foxdale, it only recorded 65km…. Not only that, but a 1000m of climbing by the 65km point too.

I have since been told that cheap batteries and cold weather don’t mix, and that likely the cold drained the energy out of it.

Boy was I down! Feeling cycle sore, time tired and hugely disappointed.... Tomorrow I was supposed to have a gentle ride with Tina, now I was having to ride a Brevet Card Audax instead... Still, its worth 2.25 AAA points...

..I clean the bike and get her prepared for the morning.....

Hummmm could I be getting a strange, unsocial obsession here....

8 comments on “Technology and the Audax Altitude Award Round The Year”

  1. Hilary wrote:

    Oh Mary what a cruel blow! After all that battling against wind and cold to find you didn't have the necessary record of it. I think I'd have been tempted to try pleading and offering photographic evidence! Did you really do it all again the next day? You are one determined lady!

    It seemed like a great ride (apart from the frostbite!) and great pics too, especially the 'Morning Glory'.

  2. Chris wrote:

    Oh, dear. I only recently read about batteries failing to work at low temperatures. That's just cruel. Character building – that's how you should regard it. Every cloud and all that. Speaking of which, nice photographs. I particularly like the first one. I find it a little disconcerting having two coastlines to look at. I'm not sure where to focus, but it is a rewarding photograph. Good luck with the next Audax ride 🙂

    By the way, three colleagues came to work in snow-covered cars today from their homes in Wolds-edge places: Welton, Little Weighton and Market Weighton. Brrr...

  3. Mary wrote:

    Well, I must admit Rich my verifier did suggest I send him any photographs I took on the day. He gave me lots of chances to find a way to prove passage. I took about 20 as it happens, but Rich really needs things like village names, or signposts – which are not very interesting to stop and take pics of. I had none of those types of photograph. I have learnt from the experience though.

    Its one of those things with GPS DIY, no record of ride – no verification.

    Thankfully I am the organiser of 2 Audax Perm rides on the IOM, and I did one of those instead on the Sunday. I am on a mission this year to try to get a double AAARTY award, so I need 2 AAA rides a month, and as you know, the winter wont let you assume you can do 2 a month.

    And yes, determined I am. I was just a few points off best female AAA rider in the 2010/11 season, be nice to win. Hard work and a touch of obsessive behaviour means I just might one day.. 🙂

  4. Mary wrote:

    Just read this about batteries.

    http://chemistry.about.com/od/howthingsworkfaqs/f/coldbattery.htm

    🙁 I wonder if lithium batteries would be better? Anyone know?

  5. Kern wrote:

    Great photos, Mary. The colours in the Calf of Mann are enough to make one shiver.

    You know, you could always hop in the car with your camera, take a few signpost photos, and submit them. It wouldn't be cheating. After all, you did the ride. Didn't you?? 😉

  6. Mary wrote:

    You sound like Tina Kern 🙂 She would of suggested this tactic too. 🙂 🙂

  7. Patrick wrote:

    I agree... great photos, especially 'The Calf of Mann'. And well done with the triple-A rated Audaxes.

    Energizer Ultimate Lithium are about the best AA batteries you can buy, and they weigh much less than rechargeables. They tend to be expensive but can often be obtained quite cheaply online. In cold weather you could perhaps carry the GPS in a breast pocket to keep the batteries warm.

  8. Garry wrote:

    The photos are great but I like the Arty one best. It's perfect. Putting a bike in a view shows that you are cycling and it increased perspective and a sense of scale.

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