Barry’s Bristol Ball Buster

The route (CLICK for details)

The route (CLICK for details)

Barry’s Bristol Ball Buster is a 200 kilometre Brevet de Randonneur organised by LVIS under Audax rules.

LVIS is an organisation dedicated to the pursuit of sporting excellence, without the unfortunate level of seriousness that seems to infect so many other sporting societies.

‘We race hard but believe that it’s essential to enjoy it just as much as the effort we put in.’

This is the 5th year that LVIS have organised Audax events. For 2014 there were 3 events: 2 rides of 116km and the testing 214km Barry’s Bristol Ball Buster. The start venue was at Long Ashton Village Hall where tea and coffee was available plus the first offerings of cake. Lots of cake. The most impressive being one baked by Kirsty McGaul.

Kirsty McGaul's magnificent cake

Kirsty McGaul’s magnificent velodrome cake

Even the riders were in LVIS uniform.

Marcus Mumford who masterminds the LVIS Audax was in control

Marcus Mumford

Marcus Mumford

but was supported by huge numbers of LVIS volunteers all in their purple livery.

LVIS members suited and booted

LVIS members suited and booted

There were 520 starters across the three different routes and it was great to see more women riding than is usually seen in Audax events. In the 200km 12% of the riders were women. The ones I saw were mostly younger women on road bikes. A few I talked to were doing their first Audax. Chrissie Wellington – an Audax virgin was kind enough to sign my Brevet card.

Many women were participating in their first Audax – Chrissie Wellington.

Many women were participating in their first Audax – Chrissie Wellington.

Just under 200 riders set off at 08:00 and headed through Ashton Court and then across Clifton Suspension Bridge before heading West towards the River Severn and then North to Hill where after 40km we reached the next supply of cake at Hill Village Hall. Here Hill and Rockhampton WI had a seemingly unlimited supply of tea and cake all served up with great cheerfulness and efficiency. LVIS volunteers were there to stamp the Brevet Cards.

Hill and Rockhampton WI manned the first control

The first control at Hill village hall

The weather was warm and dry so everyone could enjoy being outdoors.

I didn’t linger very long here and was soon on my way to the next control which was an Info control at the Somerset Monument. The Monument, predictably, is perched on top of a huge hill.

The Somerset Monument

The Somerset Monument

We were now heading south through Chipping Sodbury across the M4 to the next feeding station, sorry control, which was at 85km where Doynton and Wick WI were working flat out to feed the hungry riders. Once again LVIS volunteers were ready to stamp the Brevet cards. The Doynton Control was very busy but the WI were not overwhelmed and they served everyone quickly. They were working really hard and seemed to have thought of everything that the cyclists could need.

Doynton and Wick WI produced a wonderful spread of food

Doynton and Wick WI produced a wonderful spread of food

I enjoyed a couple of tasty rolls and a hot Hot Cross Bun.

The route continued South but we were also riding just a few kilometres east of Bristol and I heard a few dissenters who considered that 100k+ was quite far enough and they were heading back. Very tempting when passing so close. Not for me though, I was having a lovely time. It was such a treat to be out on a warm, sunny, spring day. It was a bit windy but some of the 200k rides I have done through the winter months to keep my RRTY going have been in tough conditions. This route was full of interest and very scenic.

A rare action shot of the Bat and her buddy

A rare action shot of the Bat and her buddy

The 30km after Doynton was quite easy riding but the Mendips were looming ahead and at 115 km the second proper climb of the day started from West Harptree. My Thorn Audax has lovely, low gears especially for hills like this and I slowly but painlessly ground my way up it. Riding on the Mendips is splendid. The scenery is superb and the lanes that this ride took us on were quiet so although it was quite breezy it was with some regret that I began the steep descent beside Ebbor Gorge down to Wookey. A few weeks ago the lanes across this area of the Somerset Levels were flooded but its all drying out now and easy progress was made to Glastonbury at 140km where the Glastonbury and City of Bristol Rowing Club were manning the feeding station with cake galore, but also pasta and soup. I had a lovely bowl of pasta and cheese which refuelled me ready for the remaining 80km.

Cake galore at the Glastonbury control, thanks to the Bristol Rowing Club.

Cake galore at the Glastonbury control, thanks to the Glastonbury and City of Bristol Rowing Club.

I had been riding for 7 hours by now and the field had really thinned out.  I particularly enjoyed the road from Wedmore to Loxton.  I hadn’t ridden here before and the views across the levels and out over the Severn were fantastic.  It was very quiet and apart from overtaking a couple of lone riders I was on my own.  After the Info Control at 171km at Loxton the route undulated on quiet lanes which were very pleasant but not very quick. At 182km I had a lapse in concentration and missed a turning into Church Lane – so my ride was a couple of km further than advertised! I retraced and got back on route and was soon into familiar territory on the B3133.  I was still going well and made good progress on this quick road to Kenn where the LVIS control team were enthusiastically stamping Brevet cards at the Drum and Monkey at 192km.

'Overworked' LVIS volunteers at The Drum and Monkey

‘Overworked’ LVIS control team at The Drum and Monkey

I reckoned that  I had about an hour left to ride. The first 10km after the Drum and Monkey are along the Gordano Valley. Within sight and sound of the very buy M5 it was a pleasure to ride along his lovely lane to the last info control at Portbury. Then, of course, there is a massive hill to get back to Long Ashton. So once again the Thorn low gears were engaged and my mind was disengaged and within 15 minutes or so I was whizzing along the
B3128 through Failand and then making sure I spotted Providence Lane that would take me down steeply back into Long Ashton and the finish.

The clock stopped at 18;24.

Marcus Mumford at the finish

Marcus Mumford at the finish

My completed Brevet card, kindly autographed by Chrissie Wellington.

My completed Brevet card, kindly autographed by Chrissie Wellington.

Plenty of time to enjoy some lovely soup and chocolate cake at the finish.

Marcus and his LVIS team organise their Audax events extremely efficiently. Every last detail had been thought of. The catering is outstanding and certainly a feature of the day. Of course this year the weather was fantastic and this contributed to everyone’s enjoyment of the day. At the control run by the WI at Hill and Doynton it was lovely to be able to spill over outdoors and relax for a while in the sunshine – drinking tea and eating cake!

LVIS donate all profits from their Audax ride to 3 charities: Wateraid, Sustrans, and Jole Rider.

Go Vegas!


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