Harry and I rode our third audax together today (if you don't count his outing as a passenger), the Warwickshire Wanderer. The Wanderer was part of the CTC's Heart of England Rally, held annually in Meriden, which sits pretty much half-way between Birmingham and Coventry. Meriden is the nominally centre of England and is home to a national war memorial dedicated to cyclists who died in the First World War. That may sound an odd dedication, but cycle messengers were a vital part of battle field communications at the time and the British Army even had a Cyclist Division. The village itself is rather genteel and it is, therefore, no surprise that it is also the birthplace of Napalm Death.
Our previous outings have been over 50km, which the kind of distance pretty much anyone with a functioning pair of legs should be able to do. Harry also gives off the distinct feeling of being done with 50km on the tandem, as he's keen to do one on his own bike. I'm not sure he's quite ready for that yet - maybe later in the year - and suggested we do 100km tandem. He agreed, especially when I told him he'd get a different colour badge for it. The 50km badges are pink, while 100s are a nice birds' egg blue. Audax, it's bike riding for badges in our house.
Harry himself was a complete champ and probably handled it better than I did. I was a little worried when 30 minutes in, he started asking when the control was - answer, about an hour and half - but it turned out he just needed a wee. Easily solved. Later on, as I was labouring a bit he egged me on from behind, "come on Dad, we've done 86, we can do 100". Top man.
Out on a ride I don't keep track of the time, only the distance. Before we set off I had no doubt we'd finish, and anticipated our time to be between six and half and seven hours. Six hours was, I thought, right on the lower limit of what we might do, but I thought it unlikely. When we rolled in and checked the time, I was amazed to find it was just gone three o'clock, six hours and four minutes since we'd started. It was bloody marvellous, and I did get a little teary. The time isn't really important though, and I'd have probably got teary anyway. There's a particular pleasure you get from just riding a bike for a good long time that you don't get any other way. An hour isn't enough, you need to get away from traffic lights and roundabouts and what-not, it's even better if you can get away from motorised traffic. Don't get me wrong, city cycling is dead good fun but there's something about just riding and riding that's really fantastic. Audaxing pretty much guarantees you that. Have a go, because I think you'll like it.