Velo Club Baracchi rider Kate Churchill has completed the last ride needed to qualify for the Paris Brest Paris Randoneur in August.
In the recent Flatlands 600 km event she joined around 150 other participants at Great Dunmow in Essex for the 6am start on a Saturday morning.
She previously rode Audax events of 200, 300 & 400km towards qualification and now stepped up the distance. A 600 km Audax event has a 40 hour time limit, so riders had to finish by 10 pm on Sunday in order for their ride to be ratified.
Churchill said, “The first check was at Red Lodge near Mildenhall where several riders tucked into a Full English! The route then went North through the fens to Boston in Lincolnshire and eventually to Goole on the Humber estuary. We then turned south and returned through Lincoln, Sleaford, Cambridge to the finish at Great Dunmow.”
She added, “Some riders had booked at Travelodges or similar, in order to catch a few hours’ sleep. If possible, I prefer not to sleep so rode straight through with just a short nap at the Sleaford 24-hour Macdonald’s! Once you are fit enough, the trick to riding long distances is to keep drinking and eating. So long as you are fuelled, you can keep riding.”
Churchill also believes that although, carbohydrate is famously king for exercising, when it comes to ultra-distance events, real food wins hands down. Thus Full English, beans on toast, pie and chips, or fish and chip are very popular with Audax riders.
It was 2.45pm on the Sunday when she reached Great Dunmow, giving her a time of 32 hours and 45 minutes for the 605km. Conveniently, the finish was at a pub so she sank two pints of blackcurrant and lemonade and ate a huge roast dinner!
The weather worked out just right and she added, “And to cap a really good day out, the rain started 2 minutes after I finished!”
The following weekend, in complete contrast, she helped out at the Women versus Cancer “Ride the Night” event. 1500 women rode a 60 mile route into Central London and back, starting at Windsor Racecourse.
The women were set off in groups of about 50 with 4 minutes between each group. The first riders set off at 9pm and it took nearly two hours to get everyone started, going along quiet roads into London and eventually along the Embankment, over Westminster Bridge, past the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and onto the Mall, where the second feed station was to be found.
They then rode past Buckingham Palace, across Hyde Park Corner on cycle lanes and past Harrods on our way back to Windsor.
Churchill commented, “The route was extremely well signed and every participant was given a pink Hi-Vis vest. Pink was definitely the order of the night!”
Unfortunately, it started to rain at about 2am. The slower women especially had to deal with this and they also overcame tiredness, saddle soreness, painful feet and hands to finish; there were some extremely brave rides from the slower women. Kate said, “All in all, it was a great night out.”