Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Self inflicted pain, lots of it

Some weeks ago I was out cycling with a few chums, I say cycling, we were sitting in a cafe enjoying, in my case, Eggs Benedict, the ideal mid-ride snack for the healthy cyclist.

As I moved to the waffles, pancakes and maple syrup someone suggested that "we should do a sportive".

For those of you sensible enough to keep away from the phenomenon which is middle-aged-man-cycling a sportive is, not a race, but an organised cycle event, a couple of thousand folk following signed and marshalled routes, with feed stations, medical and mechanical support staff, and a T-shirt and medal if you survive.

We, (Team BreakfastBikeBuddies) normally cycle 30-40 road miles on a Saturday morning, so the prospect of cycling between  70 and 125 miles seemed like a bit of challenge but buzzing from the fine breakfast and the 'yeah let's do it' noises from the rest of the group I came home and immediately signed up to do an 85 mile ride, the Wiggle Magnificat.

A couple of interesting things happened then, pretty much everybody else seemed to have forgotten a prior appointment, organised holidays or family commitments which rendered them unable to turn out. I however, having impulsively shelled out my £30 entry fee was going to get my money's worth.

Two alone from Team BreakfastBikingBuddies stayed true, Winston, who chose to take on the 125 mile circuit and Anna who said she'd accompany me on the 85 miler.

The route started at Newbury racecourse and took a big loop through Ball Hill up Combe Hill, (couple of clues there) then down to Andover around and below Winchester and eventually back to Newbury via Kingsclere and Brimpton. As it happens I know most of those roads but driving around them gives a very different perception of the up and downs from cycling the same tracks.

At around 7:30 Anna and I set off, I'm a slow starter and it takes me 30 minutes or so to get warmed and loosened up, now, she has many fine qualities Anna but she's not blessed with patience, and it took her about a mile to suggest that I'd probably be OK if she buggered off.

I'm a wise old bird and I assured her she should sprint off and go at her own pace. She did so and it was a good three or maybe four minutes before I came upon her by the side of the road swearing like a trooper and taking off the punctured wheel she'd managed to acquire in remarkably short order.

Being a gentleman I sailed past giggling. I didn't really, I stopped and helped her fix the tyre, well aware that in an 6-7 hour slog, five minutes fixing a tyre was going to make minimal difference to my snail-like performance.

Onward we rode, taking it in turns to share the lead and as we warmed up and started to get comfortable we even overtook some people, obviously the instant I got to a hill and slowed to my traditional "turtle climbing a tree" pace all those people overtook me again but my descending skills (excessive weight and hysterical screaming) swung the balance back my way on the downhills and the ride, although arduous continued through some lovely countryside, up hill and down dale, (mostly up I reckon).

I've cycled further than this in France (see the Tuxedo Tour) but this is the longest ride I've done without halfway beer and hourly coffee, still, despite that sacrifice I can't pretend that I didn't have fun.

We enjoyed another mechanical failure, (Anna briefly lost her chain, (and temper)) but it was a mostly enjoyable excursion and I'm sure my friends will all really wish they hadn't concocted lame excuses to avoid turning out.

Kudos to Winston on his time over a hell of a long day and very best wishes to Anna who sailed over the finish line with me and is really looking forward to doing the Ride-London 100- miler in August.

They do say that a man should know his limits, based on this 85 mile ride I reckon mine kick in at about 84 miles.

Next challenge, "Team Tuxedo do Corsica" in September, I'll keep you posted.

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At 10:21 pm, Anonymous AHK said...



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