One of our riders has recently changed tack from a successful TT racing career to the new world of Audaxing. His journey is to ride Paris Brest Paris in 2019. Alex has been training on his Vaaru MPA in preparation for next year’s event and has been kind enough to tell us about his journey so far.
“I used to love time trialling, I could think of nothing better than spending hours throwing myself up and down a dual carriage just to hit “those times”, I did OK at it, not the best but OK. Two fractured clavicles, 12 months apart , insertion of fancy metal work, and my inability to go on the first family skiing holiday lead to an angry wife and a frustrated cyclist!
Time to look for something different, less racy, more riding than racing, more time for coffee and cake, Audaxing! Long distance leisurely rides, culminating in the 2019 Paris-Brest-paris 1200km Audax, was where I was heading, easy! Wrong!
I used to ride a Trek Madone 5.2, stiff, fast, light weight. The first Audax I did was Tour of the Surrey Hills, fabled for its good food. Lovely, I was going to stuff my face and have a leisurely ride. Lining up to start I was surprised about how edgy riders were and how fast the first few groups shot off. After being in the saddle for 8 hours (riding to the event, then, back to the south coast) left me with a sore back and bum. This Audaxing lark wasn’t that easy! I only had my own competitive self to blame , I could have ridden easy but when there`s riders in front, I`ve just got to catch them up. Madness but that`s how I`m built. Coming to terms with this and feeling I deserved a new bike upgrade , I started looking for something different, something comfy but fast, not too flash, tasteful!
After researching the pros and cons of the various frame materials I decided on a titanium frame. Comfy, a bit more forgiving than carbon, and it looked great. I wanted a UK brand, preferably local to me on the South Coast. I whittled it down to Enigma, Reilly or Vaaru. After test riding I settled on a Vaaru MPA. Comfy , solid feel, rolled super sweet and took the buzz out of the awful west sussex road surfaces and looked better that the other brands. I wanted a particular look to the bike, minimal black, as much brushed titanium as possible complemented by a brown leather saddle and bar tape. James, at Vaaru, couldn’t have been more helpful and efficient , I had the bike on the road within 2 weeks of ordering (this was including having the forks resprayed to my specification). I coupled this with a set of EDCO wheels with polished DT Swiss hubs from Strada wheels. Beautiful. A happy cyclist.
I did a few hundred milers and found the bike performed very well. What struck me was how little back and shoulder ache I had compared to riding my carbon bike. It also felt sharp and stable when taking downhill corners at speed and nimble on the climbs. My first proper test was the 600km Fenland Friends Audax. I started in the first wave and rolled comfortably through the Fens and on into Lincolnshire. Then the heavens opened, delivering rain drops that felt like bullets smashing into my face. Probably the worst rain I ever cycled in. Throughout this unpleasantness the relaxed geometry of the bike and excellent wheel set made it an almost enjoyable rolling experience. Stops at Costa, McDonalds (4 quarter pounders in 24 hours!), various garages and café stops soon passed and we were on our return leg from Goole. Passing down the harsh, insanely steep unforgiving medieval cobbles of Lincoln at midnight , I felt in control with sharp Ultegra disc brakes and most of all still comfortable. Next was Boston then back into the Fens and finish in time for breakfast. A good 24 hours of hard but very enjoyable riding.
I definitely made the correct bike choice. Buying from a local independent bike designer and builder made after sales much easier. James at Vaaru responded to any questions I had immediately and provided excellent, prompt after sales service. Next stop Paris , well via a few tasty looking long distance rides!” Alex