Otley CC Audaxes

Sunday 17 July 2016

Otley CC will be running two audaxes, over 200k and 100k in 2016 – organiser Chris Boulton explains the format and the rides:

“A chance for those aspiring to the new OCC ‘non-competitive’ sporting miles distance trophy to add a few more kilometres to their total, these rides are run under Audax UK regulations, and will, obviously, also count towards Audax UK awards.

The Audax format is to complete a designated distance and route within a particular time window. Do that, and you’re credited with the ride. Simple. For ‘Brevet de Randonneur’ events, which are a minimum distance of 200km, the time window is equivalent to a constant riding speed between 15km/hr minimum, and, typically, 25km/hr or 30km/hr maximum. The shorter events are designated ‘Brevet Populaire’, and have a more relaxed minimum speed, typically 12km/hr. So note that any cafe breaks – which are an integral part of what is a very sociable activity – all have to be factored in.

Both rides are designed not just to be a challenge, but also an enjoyable and interesting day out on the bike. The 200km ‘Yorkshire Mixture’ heads out from Otley on the familiar back road to Bolton Bridge, then up Wharfedale. At Buckden you’ll be asked to answer a simple question on the ‘Brevet Card’ you’ll be given at the start, as an ‘information check’, part of the ‘proof of passage’ you’ll need for your ride to be validated. From here, the ride gets a bit more vertical. Heading over Kidstones you drop into Bishopdale, then cut up through the village of Thoralby, a stiff little climb, before dropping to Aysgarth. Watch out for pedestrians here as you pass the falls, then it’s east along Wensleydale to Castle Bolton. Another climb awaits, over Grinton Moor and down steeply to Grinton and a welcome break at the Dales Bike Centre. The shop here will stamp your card in the appropriate place (if they don’t enter a time, add it yourself). If the cafe here is busy, there are of course alternatives in Reeth, or you can continue on the route to Richmond. The shortest distance here takes you up over the edges of the moors to the north of the river Swale, through Marske to another climb and a swoop down to Richmond, with great views out over the town to the Vale of York. That’s where you’re heading next, through Brompton-on-Swale and Scorton to Northallerton. Here you need to obtain a receipt from a shop or ATM; this is your next control point; keep the receipt with your brevet card, and if you have a moment, help the organiser by entering  the time off it into the appropriate box. Now it’s further flatlands down the A167 to Topcliffe, then on the minor road down through Brafferton/Helperby. After Flawith you turn off towards Aldwarke, pausing to answer another information question at the junction before crossing the bridge. Wetherby is next stop for another check, again obtaining a receipt, then the final leg is along the familiar route through Kirby Overblow and Pool to a welcome cuppa at the clubhouse.

The 100km ‘Over Jordan’ route lies almost entirely within the Nidderdale AONB, and is a particular favourite of the organiser. Some significant climbing is rewarded with great views, and the mixture of moors and wooded valleys shows off the AONB well. From Otley the climbing starts right away, as you head up past the hospital on to the moors, with views across to the golf balls at Menwith Hill, and the Washburn valley rather hidden below you. Care is needed at Blubberhouses, where there’s a steep drop to the A59. A right and left here, and you’re again heading north (and up), turning right at Stonehouse crossroads and through the lanes to Guy’s Cliffe. There are spectacular views of Pateley Bridge here, though you’ll need to keep an eye on the road as you descend steeply to Bewerley. You need a control receipt in Pateley Bridge, and you can get a receipt in a shop or cafe. (Subject to confirmation, a supply of control stickers at the ‘Teacups’ cafe will be left for you to pick one up with your coffee or tea there.)  Then it’s up Nidderdale to Lofthouse, engage low gear and climb towards Masham. At the top of the climb the landscape opens out in front of you, and there’s the prospect of a largely downhill run from here, over Jordan Moss. The tower you can see to the right is a ‘sighting tower’, used when a proposal for a reservoir at Dallowgill was being surveyed. It’s another reservoir you pass on the route – Leighton reservoir. Soon after, look out for the signpost to the Leeds Pals memorial, just off route at the spot where their training camp was established during the first world war. After the village of Healey you collect another information check, before turning right down into a network of wooded lanes around Swinton Hall, to Grewelthorpe, and on down to Ripon. Check here at Spa Gardens (they have a stamp), before returning westwards through Studley Park , past the Foutains Abbey visitor centre and then on through the lanes towards Ripley. The route doesn’t go to Ripley, though, and you turn right at a crossroads to head through Bishop Thornton and Shaw Mills. Crossing the B6165, next  is Hampsthwaite, and then lanes through Kettlesing, to cross the A59 and, briefly, join Pennypot Lane. From here, it’s a straightforward run past the Sun Inn, down to Farnley and back to Otley.

When you enter – which you can do by post or online (here for the 100K and here for the 200K) you’ll get full joining instructions and a route sheet giving detailed turn-by-turn instructions. (It’s possible a GPS track will be available, too.) ‘On the line’ entries will be accepted, but from an organisers point of view it really does help planning to have the advance entries.

Audax is a bit addictive, so be warned! You’ll meet riders from other clubs, swap experiences and, although it’s designed to be a bit of a challenge, have a great day out on the bike. Look forward to seeing you.”