On Saturday 15 February, I lined up for my first ever UAF-style ride with the Audax QLD crew – a nice and very flat ‘Horizontal Hundred’, starting and finishing at Nundah after journeying through Deception Bay, Burpengary, Scarborough, Redcliffe and Sandgate (not necessarily in that order!).
I wasn’t sure what to expect – the UAF-style being steeped in lore and mystery. Our intrepid group of 16 was split into two self-selected groups. Ride Organiser Peter led off with group 1, while John led off Group 2 (containing myself) a few minutes later. Group 2 was definitely the more diverse group, with a couple of recumbents amongst us.
John’s experience and unflappable nature kept us very steadily on our 22.5km/h average pace (the mythical UAF gold standard!). We obediently (for the most part!) sat in behind him as we wound our way through the bikepaths heading north along the Gateway Motorway, Deagon Deviation, and Ted Smout Bridge.
After looping around Deception Bay and heading back to Scarborough, we were introduced to another UAF tradition – the incredibly long brunch stop. We all lobbed into “Sea Salt & Vine”, ordered our breakfasts and coffees, and kicked back for about an hour. We then headed off back into the heat for the last 40km back to Nundah.
With a gentle north-easterly tailwind at our backs, it felt a bit weird to be ‘holding back’ and keeping on our 22.5km/h average speed. The instinct is to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and take off with the free speed the tailwind generously provides. But John kept true to UAF principles (with the odd scowl when anyone got too excited) and held us metronome-like to the agreed pace. A welcome light rain shower as we cruised through the final wetlands path cooled us off a little, and we reached the finish about 4 and a half hours after we set off.
I really enjoyed my first UAF-style ride, and am extremely grateful to John for taking on the ride captain role for the day and leading us around. It’s an interesting style of ride. Probably not one that I’d want to do often, but definitely one to do once or twice per year (which perfectly matches up with how often it appears in the Audax calendar!).
As a relatively new rider to Audax who is still prepping for his maiden 200km ride, I learned a lot from this ride. Primarily, I learned the importance of finding and understanding your ‘all-day pace’. Normally, I’d take off like a bull at a gate, or try and follow a bunch that is a bit faster than me and try and hold on. But by taking a relatively easier pace on this ride, I was very pleasantly surprised at how well I felt throughout the entire distance, and I finished feeling like I could do the whole thing again. A very instructive lesson.
Thanks again to Peter for organising, John for captaining, and all my Group 2 ride buddies for the company and conversation.