Sunday’s club ride was a proper battle with the elements that constitute the glorious British Springtime. It clocked up 125km in total but it felt like a lot more.
Looking out of my window at 7.45am I was rather surprised to find that the dry, sunny day I had been expecting when I went to bed had been replaced by a damp, overcast blanket of grey. Time to break out the waterproofs and put the raceblade mudguards on the decent bike. The blades went on fine, as did the waterproof, a battered 7-year-old item that as one rider commented “could probably keep out the Antartic winter”.
Off I set in the drizzle to meet Rhyddid and head down to the meet, picking up his mate Nick along the way. Neither of them had mudguards on their bikes and nor did anyone else when we got to the start point for the ride. Which of course meant that everyone looked like they’d been out on a Paris-Roubaix re-enactment by the end of the ride, myself included.
I’m sure some may have benefitted from tucking in on my slightly dryer wheel and my feet certainly benefitted from not enduring all the splash off the frame and front wheel so perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea. But if it’s wet on the Etape, I’m not going to stand on ceremony or politesse – the guards will be off.
A slightly different route this week and a couple of hills I hadn’t tackled before. It may have been the lack of a proper breakfast or having riding a little too hard on my trip across town on Saturday night but, when we hit the first long drag up, my legs were burning like well stoked boiler fires and the power just wasn’t there. It could also have been the cold and wet sapping the energy away. Whatever the case, my climbing legs were definitely not with me.
By the time we got to Ranmore Hill I was sweating like a Festina rider at a dope control. I unzipped my jacket and looked down to find two minature ornamental ponds had formed in the folds which then gushed out. By the time we crested Box Hill for tea and flapjacks I was safely damper on the inside than out as the rain eased off.
At this point I discovered that carrying notes in sealed platic bags isn’t always a good idea, especially when they are a tenner and you haven’t noticed them falling out when you were fishing about for your phone. Luckily Robin stumped up for a cup of tea for me, which I shall repay next week. And next week I will beat him up Box Hill – he nipped passed me on the final stretch last week and this week was way ahead of me.
By the time Rhyddid and I crossed Richmond Bridge the thought of doing a few more laps of the park to push up to 150km was abandoned as we fel absolutely knackered. So it only remained for him to bag a puncture as we came past Kew Gardens, bringing the total for the ride that day to at least 3.
I got home and collapsed on the sofa, shoving the filthy bike in the kitchen and a pizza in the oven. After a bath and a snooze I felt remarkably well considering how much like hard work the ride had felt. This seems a good sign to me.