It doesn’t take long to realise that a happy co-existence between Audax membership and domestic tranquillity is not an accidental occurrence. While your significant other (SO) may initially breathe a sigh of relief to have you out of the house for a few hours, more immediate intervention is required to survive partnered life once your full Audaxification has taken place. Many SO’s can be coaxed to lend a hand on Control desks, or shuffle Brevet cards, or fill your pockets with goodies before the long ride. However, I have learned that Audaxified bliss is more likely to be sustained if your SO also becomes attached to a bike seat.
To that end, I have recently made the joyous discoveries of Audax family membership and the Petit Year Round Randonneur. For the tiniest additional payment of $35, my SO could share with me all the wonders of Audax membership. It’s hard to resist such a bulk-buy bargain. And we could ride together to jointly achieve the very manageable target of 100km per month and a wonderful award recognising our stunning shared accomplishment. I had visions of happy hours trundling along contentedly together, chatting about the world and sharing the moment. I also secretly longed for someone to ride shotgun between me and the snarling salivating beasts that occasionally threatened to chomp large holes in my legs, but wisely decided to keep that idea to myself.
With little further prompting, my SO became an official Audax member, and the Shared Petit Year Round Randonneur Project was launched.
I decided to let my SO have full ownership of our first shared ride. I figured we were in good hands, given that he typically plots my courses, prints my cue sheets, organises my maps and prepares my ride goodies. He chose the 100km Merragallon Loop which he had been busily organising to begin life as a permanent, figuring it would be a great chance to trial ride it before it went viral. As he worked through our preparations, I had the first sense that my Audax world was about to change. Gone were the 5am starts, eating my breakfast muesli from a plastic bag along the road, and surviving on my pockets full of goodies throughout the day. No more riding steadily along for hours on end until an exploding bladder, control point or end of the course forced a quick halt to proceedings. I wasn’t even sure I could rely on finally collapsing at home hours later where my SO would ply me with all sorts of yummies to reinforce just how fabulous I had been.
We woke with the sun streaming through our window, had breakfast and coffee on the verandah, tidied away our dishes, let the ducks out and loaded our bikes on the truck. We drove to the official start line, diligently applied sunscreen, organised our gear, and accosted a few bystanders to sign our Brevet cards. We cheered the start of our shared Audax career, perhaps a little prematurely when I realised that I hadn’t turned on the course that my SO had dutifully installed on my Garmin. Mindful of the need for an authentic test ride of the course, we did a quick loop around the block and back to the start line to restart the recording. My SO steadfastly refused to reset his Garmin, insisting on claiming full credit for every millimetre his bike had travelled.
Our first shared ride was blessed with stiff headwinds, and shouting at each other above the din was no substitute for the anticipated hours of cheery conversation. The chilly wind soon worked its magic on my bladder. My SO suggested I wait to stop at a real loo, but I confidently opted to squat at the side of a quiet road, boasting how I’d never seen cars along here before. No sooner was my SO left holding my bike than he sounded the dreaded call of “car ahead”. I learned that reliefus interuptus is not entirely possible with a cold wind and female cycling equipment.
After this short stop, other differences between the physiology of myself and my SO became apparent. I suspect he is a bundle of fast twitch fibres, while I believe I am possessed of one or possibly two of the slow twitch variety. My SO sprinted off ahead, making easy work on the hills and into the wind. He chomped away at a banana, powered through a handful of nuts, and started waxing lyrical about reaching our first Control stop. I lumbered on behind, sometimes catching up, but mostly lagging back, still digesting my breakfast.
Stopping after 54km seemed an indulgence, and another fundamental difference between my SO and I quickly became apparent. He had planned the Control stop at a trendy café, and had no hesitation in dropping his helmet and gear on a table and marching in to order coffee. Signing the Brevet card was an afterthought, especially when he spied the mango cheesecake and ice-cream. Fighting against my working class Methodist upbringing, with its tendency to embrace suffering and resist creature comforts, I accepted the second spoon that came with the cheesecake and sipped my second coffee of the morning. My SO, brought up with a magnetic attraction to good food and self-indulgence, tucked in happily while calculating the distance to the next possible refreshment stop.
Our ride continued into the wind and rain, providing me with the comforting knowledge that enough suffering was being endured to earn our Audax kilometres. Around the 75km mark, my lonely slow twitch fibre began to realise that activity was taking place, and started to cooperate in moving my legs in easy circles. Around that same moment, my SO decided he was tired and hungry, and his legs were cramping. We plodded on, coaxing each other with how far it was back to our truck, which was co-incidentally parked outside a coffee shop. At 96.4km, my SO declared he had done his 100km, still angling to claim credit for our first loop around the block. I plodded on, casually offering that he could sit tight, and I would come back and pick him up. He rode on. At 97.5km, my SO called a halt, right at the edge of town, insisting he was too hungry to continue. Luckily the remaining scraps from his bag of goodies were sufficient to get him moving again.
We rolled into town and pulled up outside the coffee shop, relieved to have survived our first joint Audax ride. My SO then discovered he had lost his Brevet card, and he was hungry and his legs were tired. I loaded him into the truck and headed for home, hoping that he could join with me in the post-ride pampering I had learned to love. He downed an enormous banana smoothie, googled new bikes (titanium of course) and took his fast twitch fibres to bed where he was soon snoozing soundly. So far, I think the Audaxification process is going well.
20 November 2016