Back at New Year while out for a little ride with Red the Rocket I turned to him and asked “got any cycling goals for the coming year?”
R replied “I dunno, 200?”
Last March R had popped out an Imperial Century. We did it before the clocks went forward. It had been a long day. He’d used his touring bike, now he has a fast bike. I knew that 200 was achievable, it would just be down to those cogs whirring inside his noggin; as it is for many undertaking a longer distance than they are used to.
To help things along I suggested a group Audax Club Bristol ride as R had happily been towed along at 25+kph by the ACB train on the way home from Jon’s Chalfield Challenge 100km. Several members put their hand up date dependant, a rolling route was offered by Len with the option for lunch at his halfway. I left it at that until the weather gave us a good day to give it a go. In amongst the grey, wet, blustery stuff we did our usual. And R pulled off his first AAA Brevet Populaire, the Wells, Mells & Old Rail Trail 100km; AAA being another league of points for the Audax Altitude Award.
Then along came Covid-19!
During lockdown R & I have been going out for a daily ride whilst he was staying with me; making the most of the gorgeous weather; discovering hill forts, identifying butterflies and moths, spotting raptors. School work was done in the morning/evening. We talked. 200 was still his goal. We just had to bide our time. Then came the unlimited exercise so I devised a route with R based on recent ones; 4 loops from home, completely self-sufficient.
Meh! to the audax time constraints, this was about the distance. We set a date for the Pointless 200.
06:00 Monday 1st June 2020
Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Be….
Alarm silenced I’m awake, I call out to R, he stirs.
We get ourselves ready for the day, slowly. Breakfast is had. I pack some flapjacks I’ve prepared as R puts his sandals on.
We bundle outside. Blue skies above as we are surrounded by the morning coolness. I close the door.
Red the Rocket’s Launch
An easy route to Bath on the railway path, through the 2Tunnels to Midford and return. Doing it early meant we’d avoid the masses since lockdown began; we mainly avoid it at the moment favouring roads, particularly in the afternoons.
It is a flying start. I’d vowed to leave the pace to R and let him find his rhythm. Mistake. He was off and cooked himself a little too much on the outward leg. I should have reeled him in but it was a comfortable speed we’d done before so didn’t think about it; plus the headwind was an unforecasted unnoticeable tailwind…
Going through the tunnels is always a bit of joy, but today the music is off, we’re there too early. Then out into the daylight once more and Midford. R does a bit of #drainspotting over the parapet wall of the old bridge knowing there are 🔺s below. Then we set about devouring some of those flapjacks ready for the return. It was just over 4 years ago we sat on the old Midford station halfway on R’s first 50km BP.
Back we go. That is when we notice the gentle head wind. That is when R tells me he may have gone too quick. We ‘limp’ home, well not really, R may say he’s tired but he sucks my wheel and shelters from the wind comfortably cruising along and making a break for it every now and then as we have to negotiate the increasing numbers of people on the path.
54km done and Pointless 200 A is complete. R tucks into the cold pasta that I lovingly prepared the night before and glugs down water. I pack more flapjack, top up our bottles and wrap some of the pizza ready for a mid ride snack as B would be the longest loop.
“Err, Daddy? Can I have pizza instead of pasta?”
Heading north this time we exit through Frenchay picking up a 🔺 en route. We are chillin’, playing the long game is what I tell R, no point cooking ourselves to be burnt out later. As such we’ve smeared ourselves in sun cream.
Whistling up the Old Gloucester Road we spot the usual 3 windmills (turbines – mill is quicker to shout). I’m amazed at R’s spacial awareness, whilst it is obvious on this part of the route these are the ‘Alveston Turbines’ (even though Alveston is on the other side of the M5 on the other side of the hill) he picks out others off in the distance and knows which ones they are. #innermap
This route is our ‘Berkeley Belter’, predominantly nice and quiet lanes we pass the odd horse, spot buzzards, skim Thornbury and head across the flats of the Severn Valley. We make a minor diversion to encompass a 🔺 that we would have missed; we did miss it last time but I got to show Edward Jenner’s house to R and do a little history/immunology as we rode.
Then back around we turn at Berkeley. The forecasted south-easterly from earlier now comes into full effect from the north-north-west and propels us south.
First we vault a gate and have that ‘mid-ride’ pizza to aid us on our way. We sit in the shade of a tree, long grass surrounding us, butterflies doing their thing so R wanders off spotting them; Meadow browns!
Back on the road we go. A short sharp climb up to Tortworth Estate then again to the farm shop. R walks the steep corner, usually not a problem I ask him how his legs are doing? “Tired Daddy”.
Unable to do an ACB train R makes do with just me and tucks in behind on the long drag to Iron Acton as we make our way to Coalpit Heath. He tells me he was really anxious at the beginning but he’s feeling confident now.
I have however put out a message to ACB members with what we are up to and R gets encouragement along the way. The other day in a rather upset voice R said he missed audax; he enjoys doing the 100s, which he is now proficient at, and seeing all the other riders. I’m also sharing my location so ACB members can pop out to offer encouragement in person and cycle at a distance for a bit. First up is Chris, once he has caught up as R shoots off after he joins us. He’s off to do a bit of shopping and follows us to the outskirts of Bristol as me and him chat and catch up on VeloViewer Squares.
After we part ways R comments it was nice to see someone else for a bit. Then again he off and we descend from the outskirts to the centre. His legs seem to be coming back to life.
Pointless 200 B done, 67km added, running total 121km. Back in the house it is hot. R sits in the shade of the incomplete backroom as I leave the front door open and swing the ‘observatory’ bi-folds back. Pasta for me, pizza for R.
On asking R how he’s doing I get “accomplished”!
Did I mention it was hot! Crikey it was. The advantage of using home as a base was we get to change our clothes. Off with the Ts and on with some loose fitting cotton shirts with just a couple of buttons done. That should do the trick.
Once again I stock up with flapjacks and halfway snacks. Then soak our caps in water, fill the bottles, then our shoes too.
Pointless 200 C aka The Clevedon Coastal begins. Speeding through town it is noticeably quieter then the ‘new normal’ normally is. ‘Happy Monday’ in full swing no doubt. Not to complain, it has been joyous nipping through town on empty roads, lets hope real change comes from this and all those recently purchased bikes don’t get forgotten once the shops re-open.
The combination of routes so far had been benign. This one saw us up Park Street, a mere bump, and then gently over the top for a fast descent to Tickenham. All done with ease, we were flying in the heat of the late afternoon. When we hit the coast on the outskirts of Clevedon we stop for more pizza looking out across the Bristol Channel to Wales.
Heading on towards the Victorian Pier we come across Julian. He’d been waiting for us as we ate. I have to admit I didn’t recognise him to begin with; lockdown beard and all that! I get yelled at by R because I’m holding him up and haven’t told him which way we are going at the junction…
Julian joins us for the next bit as we weave back out of the town, over Kenn Moor towards Nailsea. It’s getting on now, Julian heads one way, we another. I’ve been organising over WhatsApp another stop, Fiona has kindly offered cold drinks in their garden as we come back through Long Ashton so we we make an unnecessary stop on our Pointless 200. R devours a packet of crisps and enjoys the chat with Fiona and her husband Steve.
Time easily slips by and I notice other WhatsApp messages, people are in place through town so once again we set off. Gibbo gives a big cheer from the side of the road as we pass coming back into Bristol. Then it is Mike & Paulina’s turn as we head through Castle Park and home once more.
Pointless 200 C done. 175km behind us. In hindsight leaving 25km to do at the end could have scuppered the whole thing!
R had a certain look. Food was done. Mrs Crimble’s Macaroons eaten.
Over to Red, with a little editing **from me…**
Daddy asked me “do you want to finish the ride? We could just go for a curry now.”
“Yes I do!” I replied. I was feeling tired but I did not want to give up.
So D and I set off and Mummy gives me a cheer as we pass, a slight up hill to Whitchurch along an old railway path **which we’d done many times before.** 7 of 25km done **as the shadows draw long.**
Then through Queen’s Chalton. Next we were in Keynsham. **D picked out a new route using an old lane** with new 🔺s including a new special. I was surprised to see a new special because I thought we had seen all Keynsham’s before.
**Over half of Pointless 200 D done and we are** in Willsbridge with more triangles. As we were climbing Willsbridge hill I spotted a **Stanton** Centurion triangle. We’ve been down here several times but the reason we have not seen this is because we normally shoot down the hill on the other side.
**Back up on high we whizz across Hanham Common.** D does a video and asks “what is me next goal?”
“300!” But I wanted to do more 200s so I feel comfortable then a 300.
Hanham has got some of the last triangles of the ride. **Then we descend to the Avon Valley before Barton Hill where even Banksy is in isolation.** 2 more triangles at a church and we are home.
I’m feeling proud and tired and hungry. I have never cycled this far in my life!
“Pointless 200 D complete.”
“Pointless 200 complete!”
Back to Daddy…
Needless to say I am once again bowled over by Red’s determination, he is well chuffed and has taken it in his stride. I’m not 100% sure he knows just how big a feat he pulled off even with me banging on at him, though he did brag about it during a WhatsApp facetime message with a friend.
But why the ‘pointless’? In the world of Audax at this COVID-19 moment all ‘events’ are on hold thus no points can be gained, therefore no badge, no accumulation for awards etc. For those in the know though that time of 13h29m52s is significant, that is within BRM time! None of that really matters though, it makes for a good ride title….