Dug up off a 3 1/2" floppy


New Member
Here's something I scribbled fifteen years ago.


If you are considering taking up cycling as a means to travel to work or simply enjoy at short trip out to the countryside, buy a cheap used bike. It will be simple to maintain and will not hurt your wallet if you decide riding a bike is not your thing.

If you are adamant the bicycle will be for numerous long daytrips, try to find a reasonably decent pre-used bike from a cycle shop, or invest in a mid-spec bike. In either case, make sure the bike is the correct size.

Having got your bike home, roadworthy and dimensionally adjusted for you, your first aim is to go out on it for a couple or three half hour rides before the same time next week. On one of your 'days off', buy a puncture repair kit and practice repairing an inner tube by letting the rear tyre down with a pin. In the second week, gather together your puncture repair kit and a spare inner tube in a small bag; and try riding the trips for one hour. This might be a twelve mile circuit. Although you will feel hungry after the rides, one hour is easily within the energy reserves your body has, and eating for these rides is not necessary, so don't.

Your next aim, if you have not done this already, is to buy a good pair of cycling shorts and ride a twenty five mile trip. This should be to somewhere interesting and back. There's nothing worse than riding without aim, although your first twenty five miler will be to appreciate how comfortable a good pair of bike shorts are. Like your previous rides, you have plenty enough energy already inside your body, but you will need fluids, so have a DIET drink at the turn point.

If you decide to do as I did, you could build your strength by becoming a cycle commuter. You will feel vulnerable at first but waiting in queues of stationary traffic will be a thing of the past.

Riding to and from work will no longer be enough, and you will want to test yourself by extending your ride home. Rides of longer than two hours bear the necessity to eat. By the time you can comfortably ride twenty five miles with just a milky coffee at half time, you should be able to get to the 50 km distance in two and a half hours. Fifty miles will take four hours and some food is deserved after 40 km has been completed. At 25 miles, your ration is 500 cals for the next two hour's riding. This is approx 1 medium sized Café Latte and a four stick Kit-Kat. You are questioning my maths. We are not replacing ALL the calories because this part of training is to get rid of unwanted fat. The sugar is a catalyst to metabolise fat.

Cycling is very efficient, so if one of your aims is to work off excess fat, it will require many multi-hour outings to achieve this. To lose a pound of bodyfat, you must ride three fifty mile, four hour rides without eating anything extra. This is very hard, as when the stomach empties, nausea ensues. A cheap and effective remedy is a banana or three; and accept your weight loss will be slower and safer.

The next step is to ride with others. If, and it’s a big IF, you are serious about this, it is now time to shell out a thousand quid on a bike which is much lighter. When you have your new bike, strip the old one completely, clean and lube every part and rebuild it. After doing this, you will have the knowledge to fix a bike on the roadside if it gives you trouble. Trouble on a new bike is usually gear cable stretch, so know how to adjust them.

The place to find 'group' rides is Audax UK. Enter an organised 100 km Audax event. For a small fee, approximately five quid, you will receive a routesheet. This is a written instruction of the route you must follow. Photocopy a map, decipher the route and mark it with a highlighter. At some point, you might be on your own, but it is OK to follow other riders. Although the spirit of AUK is 'self sufficiency', the others there will help if you need it. The reward for your trouble is a small shiny medal, but this is better than nothing for your previous efforts.

You may have considered joining a club. Be warned. Even short club runs go at a lively pace. An AUK 100 km "Brevet Populair" will have a minimum speed of 10 kmh. That's only 6.25 mph, so you might even need to slow down a bit, and it's NOT a race. A leisurely ride chatting to AUK members is better than a breathless struggle behind a group of fit and experienced cyclists.

A 150 km AUK is also a Brevet Populair with the same minimum speed, but it will probably be lengthened to 160 km because this is 100 miles.

WOW! 100 miles in a day.

You may now be thinking which style of riding on an AUDAX will allow you to eat more. Neither. For the same distance, energy is closely the same. If you have 100 km to cover, doing it at a higher cals/min for shorter time will be the same as lower cals/min for longer time. So slow down, take it easy and enjoy yourself. The only way to increase your cals/min is to wear less clothing and let windchill work it off. There will be hills along the route to improve your muscular strength, but at present, it is your endurance that is being trained.

The next step is a big one, - A really big one. This is where it starts to get tough. A lot of time and effort is required to get to the appropriate level of fitness to complete a 200 km Randonnee. To be a Randonneur is the sign you have finished your apprenticeship. To progress to Randonneur status, your speed will be increased to minimum 15 kmh and the distance goes up to over 125 miles, to as much as 140 miles. The duration of a Randonneur 200 is about eleven hours, and now you MUST eat to get through it. To keep up with the group, you will need to ride at around 17 – 20 mph. This is almost 200 Watts, and is considered the minimum requirement. It is equivalent to one quarter of a horsepower, or one horse's leg, which is realistic because you have about one quarter of the frontal area of a horse.

If you have access to a health club, get on the upright bike and cycle at 180 Watts. If you can complete 60 minutes, this will be equal to about 2 ½ hours on a real bike because you don't stop at junctions in the gym. Have a 5 minute rest and repeat another 4 times. You are ready. 5 ½ hours on an exercise bike in the gym? You are crazy!

Try doing 200 Watts for 45 minutes, with a 1 minute 300 Watt interval every five minutes. Make this a daily routine for one week, and then ride a 100 mile ride which includes some hills. Three weeks of this schedule and you will be riding the 100 mile ride.

All the training is over and you have entered a 200 Randonnee. Eat well for three days prior to the ride. High carb, low GI foods with protein. Wholemeal pasta bolognaise.

The big mistake on your first 200 is to follow the group away from the start. They are fitter than you and will get to the first control at about 28 kmh average. Don't try to keep up with them however energetic you feel. Study the route, mark it on a photocopied map and have it to hand to refer to while riding. A clever trick is to fold the routesheet and put it in a small plastic bag. Secure the plastic bag round the handlebars so you can read the instructions.

Take it steady and eat every hour, or half way between controls as well as at controls. If you ride at 15 – 16 mph, you will average 13.5 – 14.5. With stops, this will reduce to 12.5 -13, for a 10 hour finish. Considering your training, you will do this comfortably. Well done.

A Randonneur 200 can be done without lamps. With this in mind, you may decide to stick at 200 km rides and not ride at night. There is no shame in only riding 200s. The Randonneur 500 patch is for three rides, one 100 and two 200s. A Brevet 1000 medal can be gained after five 200s in one season. A Randonneur 5000 takes a bit of doing. This involves twenty five 200s in one season. It is possible to get this without lamps on your bike.

The ride to complete is Land's End to John O'Groats Randonneurs Multiples which is seven consecutive days of 200 kms each.

Another award up for grabs is the Randonneur 1000. This is another accumulative award, consisting of one 100, three 200s and a 300. This award might be done as part of training for our Land's End to John O'Groats Randonneurs Multiples.

You will know when you are ready for the Land's End to John O'Groats Randonneurs Multiples when you can ride another 200 km the day after a 200 km randonee.

A 300 can be just about done without lamps in mid summer, but a 400 can't. 400s and longer require lamps and many AUK members use hub dynamos for continuous lighting.

Some AUDAX UK events that are only possible on a bike fitted with lamps are :-

The Super Randonneur. This is gained by riding at least one of each 200, 300, 400, and 600, with others to accumulate 2000 km in one season.

The End to End Randonneur. It is Land's end to John O'Groats at a minimum overall average speed of 12 kmh.

The Three Capitals. London, Edinburgh and Cardiff at a minimum overall average speed of 12 kmh.

But we won't be concerned with these, yet.

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A bike for AUDAX.

Any reasonable bicycle sold today will have the reliability to cover 200 miles in a day, if it is regularly maintained. The most prevalent consideration when purchasing a bicycle is its weight. The lighter the bike, the easier it will be to ride uphill, but it will be more expensive, so it is a false economy to buy a cheaper, heavier bike because as you get better fitness, you will want to ride further up and down hills and a light bike will be a certain necessity.

First and foremost, the frame should be correctly proportioned to your body. A quality manufacturer will have at least three frame sizes they use to build 'off the peg' bikes. A quality shop will be prepared to alter components to 'fine tune' the bike's dimensions and reaches if you are different from average skeletal ratios.

The next important attribute of your bike is the saddle. Don't worry, most commercial saddles of greater than average expense will be comfortable if cycle shorts are worn.

Next to be thought about is the gearing. An AUDAX bike is a 'light tourer', not a racing bike. Racing bikes will be seen on events where mudguards are optional but they have angles not suitable for long distance touring. Your AUDAX bike will have shallower angles and lower gearing than a racing bike.

In springtime and autumn, mudguards are advised. This means the frame must have clearances to fit the mudguards, and these are arranged on Sports Tourers and training bikes.
Nice article Jimbo, I guess not much has really changed in that time then?


Here for rides.
Jimbo, great stuff. Anything you would say is different for the mature returner to road cycling in their early 50's?
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