Testimonial from Tom, Audax Cyclist

Hi Sabrina

I wanted to thank you for your help. At the weekend I achieved my ambition of completing a “Series Randonneur” of 200, 300 400 and 600km bike rides in a single season.

The route with some of the stops and “control points”.

I came to you suffering from debilitating pain while cycling that ran down my lower back into my legs. We worked on piriformis muscle stretches, core stability and flexibility. I was, I think you said, the least flexible cyclist you had ever seen! The pain went away (as long as I remembered my stretches) and I improved my posture on the bike to reduce neck pain as well.

So on Saturday we travelled down to Ponteland near Newcastle to take part in the New Border Raid 600km Audax with another 70 cyclists. My cycling mate and I had to ride a 600km circuit in under 40 hours, gathering proof of passage at various control points on the way. The only support was at the half way point where the organisers had a hall with hot food, showers and beds.

We had a day of headwinds and amazing views, including Hadrian’s Wall and Galloway Forest Park. The landscapes are a big part of the reason I love cycling. I used a bench outside a cafe near Haltwhistle to do my piriformis stretches.

Cafe stop near Haltwhistle

Girvan harbour

We reached Girvan on the west coast by late evening and had chips on the prom (I’m not so much of an athelete that I’ll avoid chips!). They were well earned. The sense of distance that we had ridden and the imperceptable progress we were making all day was quite difficult to deal with mentally. I was feeling great on the bike, with no discomfort, so that really helped my confidence. I just kept telling myself that if I kept pedalling I would eventualy finish.

It was dark and hilly to the half way point where the helpers provided chilli, rice pudding, tea and beds. At 3.30am we set off again into the dark, coasting downhill through Nithsdale. It’s in cold temperatures that you can get frozen shoulder and neck muscles but I was being careful not to strain my neck – core strength exercises rule!

Quiet roads are used in Audax

The headwind from the first day was now a tail wind which blew us up the Moffat Water and past the Grey Mare’s Tail where the downhill took over and brought us out at Selkirk. Up to this point it had been cloudy and we’d been expecting rain but at Abbotsford the sun came out and we emerged from the woods into a furnace.

I kept covered up, drank lots of water with hydro tablets and we slowed our pace through the beautiful Cheviot hills towards Alnwick. Sadly the heat and a chest bug picked up midweek meant my mate had to bail out at Wooler with 530km ridden and just 77km still to go. He got a taxi to the finish.

I completed the ride about 8pm to congratulations from my mate who was feeling much better and a handshake from the organiser (Audax is very low-key in this respect). I am so pleased to have achieved this. I couldn’t have done it without your help and encouragement. So thank you again.

Tom