“The trick is–not to keep up”.

by Stuart 3. July 2012 07:14

That was the advice of an Audax Ireland jersey wearing rider about 10 miles from Newry. 

The main group of 15 riders on the Around Down 200 were just visible on the crest of the hill.  I decided that this was not only good advice, but not really optional either.


I discovered the crazy sport of Audax some time ago whilst surfing the web.  Basically it’s long distance riding from 200km to 1400km.  The aim is just to finish.  There are no prizes, just a generous time limit – which I suspect is aimed more at allowing the organisers to go home rather than make you go fast.  In fact, there is even a minimum time limit to stop speeding.

This appealed to my non-competitive competitiveness.


Hilario: Did you have any luck?
Chris Adams: Found a man who would have been perfect. With gun or knife, couldn't ask for any better. But he wouldn't do it.
Hilario : The money, it was not enough?
Chris: He doesn't give a hoot about money.
Hilario: A man in this line of work who doesn't care about money?
Chris: Men in this line of work are not all alike. Some care about nothing but money. Others, for reasons of their own, enjoy only the danger.
Vin: And the competition.
Miguel: If he is the best with a gun and a knife, with whom does he compete?
Chris: Himself.

The Magnificent Seven

So, for some time, I have had my eye on the Around Down 200 , organised by Stephen Stephen Gallagher (Slieve Gullion Wheelers).  Having completed the NDCC Bangor Coastal Challenge I decided I was up for it.

After a couple of well answered enquires about Cycling Ireland licences (you can just get a day one at the start) – I sent off the entry form and the princely sum of £5.

Bike Preparation

Unlike sportives, this event was “un-supported”.  On saying that, I always carry a small tool kit spare tube etc. anyway.  However, I knew that I would require food on route and I like to carry my own that I know agrees with me and I would need to navigate from a “route sheet”.

I also felt some mudguards for my racer would be advised.

This gave me the chance to do some online research and blow some bike budget.  (Not that I have a bike budget – it’s more of a what can I get away with budget).




In the end I settled on a basic handlebar bag from decathlon (£10) and some Crud Roadracer mudguards which i picked up from CRC.

Bags - Map holder B'TWIN - map  bag


Best buy, Decathlon Map Holder £2.99.

Closer to the event, I realised the weather was unlikely to be kind (we had just experienced flash flooding), so I paid another visit to Decathalon for a light waterproof (£10) (my commuting coat is too heavy to carry).  Being easily convinced by marketing ploys, I bought a frame bag (£7) for the jacket and a map holder (£3).


I also picked up a cheap bottle and cage from Tesco’s to supplement the one I have, giving me plenty of liquid capacity in case it was hot.

The ride

I limited my beer intake to 4 on Saturday and dragged myself out of bed at 6:30.  Usual bowl of porridge and then down to Newry.


Small crowd at the start which was much more informal than the Sportive’s I had ridden before.  We rode out of  Newry “en-masse” but I soon realised that I was not going struggling to keep up with the bunch or would be working harder, alone,  through the day.

Shortly after this, an Audax Ireland rider gave me his wisdom “the trick is – not to keep up”.  I was a natural.

The morning was hilly.  Probably not particularly hilly, but hilly for me!  I thought about the cycling I do and basically it’s all flat.


Anyway, the route was easily followed.  You just read your ODO (in KM) and looked down the route sheet to find where you were/where you needed to turn next.

When I got to the control point Stephen seemed to have enough food on offer for an army.  This seemed to be repeated throughout the day.


First battery gave up sometime before lunch.

I trundled on to lunch (which I had signed up for on start for £5) at the Currans pub, welcome soup and sandwiches.  I had just missed everyone but Stephen made sure I was good to go with more food and water.

The route got flatter in the afternoon but for the first couple of hours along the coast the wind was strong and annoying.

Once I swung inland to Newcastle and beyond, things improved.

After the final checkpoint just past Newcastle my legs began to tire.  I found the most comfortable way to ride was on the drops with my bum off the seat.  I suspect this was using a different and less exhausted muscle set.

Second, standard, battery gave out after just a couple of hours.

However, the scenery cheered me up and once I reached Rostrevor I started to open up again.  Although you might not believe it, I hit 30 Km/h between Warrenpoint and Newry.  Eventually I made it back to the start just over ten and a half hours after setting off, where more sandwiches and a welcome cup tea of awaited.  Last in (of course).


  • Great organisation, clear route instructions and plenty of non-support support in the form of food, drink and encouragement.
  • Perhaps the Ards half marathon 2 days before was not the best idea!
  • Yes, I will be doing another, but I will be doing some hills first.
  • Decathlon Map holder was the best buy.  Made to so easy to navigate.

Big thanks to Stephen and his wife (sorry I didn’t get your name) for their excellent organisation and support.  Thanks also to the Slieve Gullion Wheelers and Audax Ireland.

Most of all, thanks to the man in the green jersey for his excellent (if redundant) advice.

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Cycling | Audax | Audax Ireland

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