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six hundred

I can feel tears welling up. My sunglasses are in my jersey pocket so there’s no way I’m going to hide this. I drift backwards from Jo’s side. I look at the trees, and my stem, and my feet turning the pedals, and back at the trees. I wipe away a tear with a filthy, snotty mitt. I am utterly exhausted. It’s suddenly hit me that I’ve decided to pack. The shear scale of what is left of this endeavour has overwhelmed me like a wave and I’m too tired to keep my head above the water. Doing the sums I know it’s possible to complete the audax in the time allowed but chances are when we get back to Hailsham it will be too late to get a train home. The thought of having to turn around in order to ride the extra 35 kilometres home is more than I want to think about. I really don’t want to pack though. It’s my first 600 and it would complete a Super Randonneur series for the season. More than that though I don’t want to let Jo down. He didn’t enter the audax, he’s just come along for fun, well, maybe not fun, we did a pinky swear about trying something really stupid next year so this is a test, and it’s a test I sense I may be about to fail. I’m the one that is supposed to be able to do this. Jo has never ridden more than 200km and it was my idea to ride 600 and I said it would be OK. I can reconcile myself to bailing on the audax but to not ride 600 kilometres? I can’t stop, not now, not this far in, giving up is out of the question. I reckon we’ve ridden about 540 kilometres so far and it must be about another sixty to home from here. We’re near Petersfield and if I can get there then I can get to Midhurst and if I can get there then I can get to Petworth and if I can get there then I can get to Storrington and if I can get there I can get to Steyning and if I can get there I can get to Shoreham and if we can get there we can have a pint by the river and we can say we did it. We can say we rode to Wales and back and we will have ridden 600 kilometres, further and for longer than either of us have ever ridden. It’s been ridiculous and it’s been brilliant and it’s not quite over. I ride back up to Jo and tell him the new plan hoping he doesn’t notice the emotion cracking my voice.

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8 replies »

  1. Another great piece MFI. I have to ask, how do you get such good photos? I mean obviously you have ‘the eye’ but are you using a phone or a camera? They are really good, this set really sums up the fatigue and banality and wonderful oddness of Audax – nice!

    • thanks! i use my phone for photos generally. i have got a compact camera that fits in a jersey pocket but find the phone is good enough. currently i’m using a samsung S6 which has a surprisingly good camera which allows manual focusing, light metering, etc. it’s not great in low light but otherwise it’s pretty impressive. i then do some tweaking in Lightroom editing software.

  2. Ah ok, I think the difference between your photos and mine is that you care a lot more about them! The best I can do with my phone is whack on a filter… and I never take the stopping time to get the good photos, I just point and click. Something to work on then…

    • i find there’s a pay off between stopping too much and keeping going so i try to minimise stops simply to take photos, but every now and again they’ll be something that needs to be stopped for. i try to take as many as possible whilst on the move or at scheduled stops.

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