1997: I topped 100 points again (now known as Randonneur 10,000), riding 31 200s, seven 300s, two 400s, one 600 and the LEL 1400 to give me another two SRs and 111 points. I rode LEL with Anne again, who rode on fixed wheel, the only female rider ever to do this (although in 2001 Fenella Brown rode the hillier northern 800 section of LEL on fixed), and Anne gained her fourth opposite sex FWC this year. A lot of my rides this year were very hilly – I fancied a go at the Audax Altitude Award.
I amassed 97½ AAA points, more than any previous AAA champion, but this was not enough to surpass Sandra Shaw who became AAA champion with a magnificent 98¾ points. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed trying. Riding LEL meant that I missed out on a couple of big AAA rides on at the same time, so I then spent three weeks in late August & early September on a meticulously planned logistical campaign to get the maximum available number of AAA points from Scottish permanents and ‘PRoFS’ in the Italian Dolomites, Swiss and French Alps. Although Audax is officially non-competitive, riders would often try to ‘keep their cards close to their chests’ when going for what were then known as the Championships. Sandra was living in Cardiff at the time, we would often share lifts to events and she and I were then (and are again now) good friends, but whilst she had made it no secret that she was going for the AAA, I had tried to keep an element of surprise on my side. There is nothing in the rules to say that riders must declare their intent in ‘going for it’, but I do recognise that as a friend I should perhaps have been as open as she was. After the week in Scotland, where Sandra rode the same permanents but not together, once I got to the Alps I did let her know what I was doing. Sandra was clearly not best pleased, but spiritedly rose to the challenge by then going to ride most of the same PRoFS herself to restore the balance in her favour. Even using my last three days leave at the very end of October to glean another few points in the Alpes Maritime was not enough – Ian Hennessey who accompanied me referred to this last attempt as ‘tilting at windmills’!
It is perhaps no coincidence that not long after this that AUK members voted to abolish use of the term ‘Championships’ and instead call then ‘Individual Awards’, but this still couldn’t totally stop riders from trying to conceal their plans.