A Catholic Education

Having ridden countless long distance events over the past 10 years I thought it was about time I organised one myself. ‘A Catholic Education’ is intended as an introduction to the Audax world, a 207 km ride from west London out over the Chilterns towards Bedford and back via St Albans. On offer is a full day’s riding in glorious countryside with a pub finish.

The name?
A Catholic Education (ACE) is the title of Teenage Fanclub’s 1989 debut album, one of the finest of that era, of any era and the ride starts from St Peter’s Square in Hammersmith (long-time home of Island Records). We can’t offer any form of redemption through suffering but can guarantee a few oaths will be sworn over the course of the day.

What is Audax?
According to Wikipedia, ‘Audax is a cycling sport in which participants attempt to cycle long distances within a pre-defined time limit. Audax is a non-competitive sport: success in an event is measured by its completion’. At the start of the event you will be issued with a ‘brevet’ card which lists the control points, the opening and closing times plus the finish times and any other ‘control points’ you need to pass through to validate your ride. The event has a pre-arranged route available as a GPS file and as a printed routesheet but riders are free to make their own way from control to control, either via local knowledge or are hopelessly lost. At each control you will present your card to be stamped and the time noted. At the end of the ride your card will be validated and so long as you have completed the course in time (approx 13 hours, 48 minutes for ACE) your ride will be registered on the Audax UK website. You can keep the Brevet Card as a souvenir of the day.

Where and when?
The ride starts from St Peters Square, Hammersmith at 8am on Saturday 23rd June. The finish is 0.5km away on the riverside at The Old Ship

The Route
From Hammersmith the route heads out of London via Ealing and Ruislip and onwards to the Chilterns. Once beyond the M25 there are a some small climbs to tackle on the way to the first control at Potten End (55km). From Potten End the route passes through mainly rural countryside and quiet villages as you make your way northwards. Woburn (87km) is the next town where provisions can be found, followed by a pleasant stretch of road in open countryside past the Safari Park. The town of Ampthill (99km) offers the weary traveller a Camra-award winning pub in the form of The Albion but don’t linger there too long as the halfway control at Houghton Conquest village hall (104km) is nearby with free food, drink and a warm welcome guaranteed.

Homeward bound, the route remains mainly flat but there is a short climb at Hexton (125km). The penultimate control is reached at Wheathampstead (148km). The route skirts around At Albans and heads in a south-westerly direction to avoid the major roads heading into London. This final section contains a little more climbing as you cross the ridgeway and enter the suburbs via Rickmansworth and the ‘info control’ at Croxley Green (175km). One final sting in the tail is presented with the ascent of Harrow Hill before dropping down via the delights of Wembley and Harlesden and onwards to the finish.

How to Enter
You can enter the event by following this link to the Audax Uk site.
Please note you must register to ride this event – for insurance purposes no entrants will be allowed on the day.

The price to enter this ride is £10 (for Audax UK members) or £12 (for non-audax members). The price includes full route instructions by GPS / routesheet, basic food / water at each control plus a fully catered control at the half-way point. Audax events are run on a not-for-profit basis – they rely on volunteers putting something back into the sport they love, something we at Milltag wholly applaud. We will be there on the day, either riding or providing support and perhaps the odd beer or two for the most worthy finishers. Any surplus funds from the event will be donated to our current charity partner, the Esteban Chavez Foundation

We look forward to seeing you in June. Enjoy your day, stay safe and ride strong. B&W photo courtesy of Matt Scholes