Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Game Over

Posted: June 10, 2018 in Cycling
Tags: , ,

fingers

Early every Friday morning I go for a club run down to the coast. It’s called the gentle ride as it’s meant to be done at a reasonable pace but the regulars know it as the Gentlemen’s ride as the pace is always that of the slowest, which quite frankly is sometimes not that slow. We meet up at the bus stop at early o’clock. It is a time of yawns, darkness and chill when dawn is just a wish in a dark sky. We head off down the main road to the coast at the stroke of the hour. We don’t wait for any stragglers, they know the rule, the ride always leaves on time. At the end of the main road we turn left, negotiate a few crossings and then it follows the coast. Sometimes on the beach road, sometimes a street or two back. By now the sky is getting lighter and the view out to sea is spectacular. We pass groups of early morning joggers stretching their legs on the sea front and sometimes cyclists slower than ourselves. This is undoubtedly the best part of the ride. As the pub approaches we prepare for the climb. Gears are changed and the chatter subsides. It’s short and steep and can be painful for the uninitiated. We all know that it ends at the level crossing, that is where we regroup and roll gently down the road until we are back together as a group. A few turns later we are back on the coast road and catching anyone who declined the hill. There is no stigma to not climbing just a little banter. We are now on the way home and the call of the cafe is strong. We power up the main road take a right turn at the lights and trundle along the boring road until after a sneaky left turn we are sitting in the cafe drinking steaming coffees talking about the trivia of life.

Today started like any other Friday. The three of us gathered at the meeting place. We were all regulars so we all knew each other and our foibles. We left on the stroke of the hour and started down to the coast. We had hoped for a pull from another group that meets nearby but they weren’t to be seen today. I felt surprisingly good today so I took the front for a long steady turn. We picked up one other just before the lights that were not with us this morning. I kept a nice even tempo, this wasn’t the sort of ride to tear the legs off club mates. I was still happy at the end of the main road where we turn left so I negotiated the maze of turning to bring us across the tram lines and got us onto the long straight road that would take us to the coast. That’s where it went wrong.

I was still at the front as we approached the roundabout. We reached the roundabout at about the same time and the driver had slowed so everything looked as it should. Then the car pulled out in front of me. I avoided hitting the car and shot in front of them, I think I clipped the curb because just when I was thinking I’d got away with it I lost control and hit the ground. I felt winded and disoriented. In was aware of some shouting going on behind me, I was told later that the car looked like it was going to drive off so the others gave chase. When they caught the car, there was a short and frank discussion with the driver. The driver did not endear themselves by saying that I shouldn’t be on the road at that time in the morning or saying that it wasn’t their fault as I didn’t hit the car.

The discussions were over by the time I’d done a full body inventory to ascertain I had pain in my left wrist and my left ankle. I knew I had to talk to the driver and get details but I wasn’t that keen on talking to the cause of my pain. I found a rather shaken driver who felt that they were the victim in this situation. I had very little sympathy for this view, remained calm and got the bear details. I had no desire to argue the rights and wrongs of the situation with a clearly shaken person who was unable to take responsibility for their actions. I suggested that they go home, have a strong coffee and have a think about what they had just done.

 

We resumed the ride but my heart wasn’t in it. I told the others that in was turning back as I’d lost my enthusiasm, they turned back too and escorted me along the road. I was nursing my left hand. Deep down I knew I’d done something serious but I was still trying to convince myself that I’d got away with out serious injury. The others had noticed that I wasn’t putting weight on that hand. One went as far as to comment that there would be no “two hundred change hands” for me for a while.

By the time I got home my wrist was starting to swell and this was making life difficult. I had meetings to go to and needed to look smart but getting into my meeting clothes had suddenly become very difficult.

I tried to concentrate on the meetings but the pain in my wrist just got louder and louder. I needed to go to the hospital the tears running down my face told me that it was a lot more serious than I’d hoped. I queued for a while and was then seen by a doctor, she gave me some happy pills that made my outlook on life somewhat different. The x-ray revealed the truth. There was a fracture in one of the small bones in my hand that required a plaster cast and immobilization. This was not good news as it effectively stops me doing anything I want to do.

A week later I went to the assessment and was delivered the final blow. The had would have to be immobilized for another six weeks. No cycling, no swimming, it’s effectively game over.

Cast

Advertisements

20180511_105319

Norton Summit is a bit of a local classic. It’s not the steepest hill around but it has the distinction of being used for a professional bike race. This makes climbing it a must. I’ve been up it a few times on a bicycle but I’d not taken Gracie the Trike up there. I wasn’t too worried about the ascent, we have been up a fair few hills together, I was more worried about the descent. That had been putting me off.

20180511_104904

I’d arranged to meet a friend at the café at the top of the climb and he was interested in seeing Gracie so that gave me the perfect excuse. The weather wasn’t too promising but once I’d made the decision to do the climb a little fine drizzle wasn’t going to stop me.

20180511_104639

The official start of the climb is at the bottom of Norton Summit road but the going uphill starts a long way before that. In fact, it was all slightly up hill from my house to the start of the hill. There was no run up to this one.

It starts by rising slowly away from the city. The buildings start to thin out and get a lot larger. It becomes obvious very quickly that this is a very desirable area because of the view. However, the gathering woodland and the threat of bush fire makes building highly controlled. Soon there is nothing surrounding the road except trees.

20180511_104437

The first key point on the route is the first hairpin. The road whips round her and then gets just a little steeper. This had caught me out on my first attempt a few months ago but now I knew it was there I could coax Gracie into a lower gear and smoothly navigate the turn without undue complications giving us time to appreciate the motivational and rude words slathered on the tarmac.

20180511_104133

Once around the corner the climbing started and the views started to improve. To start with I could see the road below, it was good to know that there wasn’t an imminent danger of me being overtaken by a tanned whippet on a lightweight machine or even a old bloke on a sit up and beg. A little further on I turned the corner and was greeted by a fantastic view across the city and over to the sea. This was the real reason to climb this hill.

20180511_103738

The road turns away from the sea and then gives a view of the climb ahead. It’s possible to see where the summit should be but there is always a nagging doubt that it’s actually a false summit. To the left is a gorge to the right an upward slope. This is the point where it becomes hard work. The end seems so far away and the beginning was just a memory. Eventually the road starts to imperceptibly level out until unceremonsally we are at the top. All that’s left is a steady ride to the café for a well earnt drink and a slice of cake.

20180511_102920

DSCF0867

The swim course being used as a rowing lake

I feel that I have to do at least one triathlon a year to maintain my status as a triathlete so I chose this one. I knew that the run was going to give me a bit of trouble owning to my ongoing achillies problems so I entered the longest of the events on the rational that I could make up time on the swim and bike. I’d visited the physio the day before to have my legs beaten into shape and I’d promised my loved one that I would walk on the run if I felt I needed to

I turned up at the venue with plenty of time to do all of the things I need to do before a race. It was all very relaxed and low key. It seemed that nearly everybody knew every one else. I’m new here so I didn’t know anyone, that didn’t really matter, I just went around doing my usual routine of checking where everything was and making sure that I was as light as possible before the race.

We were all herded up for the briefing. I always listen to the briefing even though I heard most of it before there is always something important in there. I’m always amazed how little attention people pay to these briefings, up to the point where some people nearly missed the start of their race.

The shorter distances started first, Before the race I’d debated whether to wear a wetsuit or not. I’m not a fan of wetsuits and in water this temperature I think they are too hot. Others didn’t share my opinion. I may be slightly slower than them but my transition would be a lot faster.

DSCF0868

A calm and relaxed transition

We were ushered into the water in small groups to start the swim. It wasn’t exactly a mass start, more of a staggered start. It took a while to get into my rhythm, there were a lot of people who seemed intent on trying to swim over me. I’m not too fond of that. Slowly the swimmers thinned out and I started overtaking people in wetsuits, that made me happy.

I took the first buoy wide to avoid the usual crush but ended up being pushed against the quayside. I few nudges later and I was back on track. It wasn’t a beautiful swim but it was effective. I got to the finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, neither first or last. This was my ideal position.

I’d done a lot of cycling in the week before the race, this was probably a bad thing as my legs were a bit sore. I hoped that this would help me. The soreness disappeared the moment I got on the bike. I got onto the tribars put my nose in the wind and wound it up. It was a lovely course; all the corners were coned off so there was no need to slow down, the straights were long and flat and easy to speed along. I was overtaken by a few fast boys on flash bikes but on the whole, I overtook more than passed me. I got off the bike feeling content. It had all gone well. All I had to do was survive the run.

I knew it was doing to be slow. It has been a long time since I’d run off the bike and I’d forgotten the feeling. The memory slapped me in the face as I wobbled down along the path. I ran for almost as far as I could before breaking into a walk. My plan was to walk for a minute and then start again. It was amazing how many people came passed me in that minute, most of them offered the odd word of encouragement. I started running again and jogged along happily passing some of the people that had passed me. I saw them all again when I started walking again. I wasn’t happy with the run as I’d had to walk but my achillies wasn’t complaining so that was a good thing.

When I crossed the line, I was happy. The swim and bike had gone well and the run had gone as expected. The results confirmed my feelings. I don’t need to do another one for at least another year.

DSCF0869

The final step

I’ve always fancied sampling a route that the professionals are going to use and this Audax route promised just that. It followed a stage of the Tour Down Under but in typical Audax style it added a few café stops and some kilometres to make the total distance 200km. This seemed like an ideal way to sample a race without participating and without being surrounded by hundreds of other cyclists with the same ambition.

It started in a 24-hour bakery close to where the actual stage would start. Just like the professionals we made sure that our nutritional needs were taken care of before the five of us hit the road. As we set off the organiser casually mentioned that gorge road, the first climb on the route, was closed for roadworks. We decided to gamble on being able to get through.

TDU (2)

Quality nutrition

We dodged round the road closed sign and ignored all the other signs that suggested that forward progress would be impeded at some point. Instead we enjoyed the feeling of being on a car free road. This must be something like the feeling professional cyclists get all the time whilst racing. It was rather nice not having to worry about cars trying to pass in the most ridiculous of places. Our reverie was brought to a grinding halt by a large man, covered in tattoos and wearing a skull ring on every finger. He was a man with a mission and his mission was not to let anyone pass the hole in the ground. We tried to use the power of persuasion but that was a lost cause. He had orders and a complete lack of compassion. We turned around and headed down, there was another way to get us back on route but that required a bit of climbing

I had been up Montecute Road before but that was on a mountain bike with much lower gearing. It is not a momentously steep hill but it just goes on and on. The others were far better climbers than me and soon they were snaking away into the distance. I knew the road got steeper near the end and that meant I would go slower. I struggled to the turning where the others were waiting vowing to do something about my gearing. The irony of doing this climb was that we now had to lose a lot of the height gained to get back on route. This involved a descent of the aptly named Corkscrew Hill. It was one of those rather scary descents that scares the sensible and that the reckless call fun. I used my breaks a lot.

Now we were at the bottom of the hill we had to gain the height all over again by climbing up gorge road to the reservoir. Yet again the group started to lengthen as those with climbing prowess speeded up and I slogged my way up. I thought that the climbing would be over by the time I reached the reservoir but I was cruelly mistaken. The road just became more undulating. I was able to catch the group on the down hill sections only to be distanced whenever the road went skywards. I started to get the feeling that it was going to be a long day in the saddle.

TDU (1)

Refuelling

The first café stop came as a welcome relief, well it would have done if the café had been open, we had to carry on a little to find a temple of calories and fountain of hydration. Just like the professionals we took care of our needs, unlike the professionals our needs included a bacon and egg roll and about a litre of coke. I was amazed at how much I was drinking. It was a hot day and I’d been dripping with sweat but to go though two bottles and a litre of coke before breakfast was for me, unheard of. At least I felt ready to tackle the next park to of the route.

The route kept its undulating character but now we were in the country and surrounded with fields of ripening corn. It was all very beautiful and for a while took my mind off the many small rises that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I had no idea that long steep hills could be hidden so well in the countryside. We got to the top of one where the views were spectacular, it didn’t even look like a proper hill. It just got steep without appearing to get steep. I don’t like this sort of hill.

TDU (3)

Heading for the hills

We came to a sharp corner, it housed a tree that someone had lived in one hundred years ago. Something like that is always worth stopping for. It also gave me a chance to recover slightly, finish the last of my water and have a stretch. I prayed that the next stop was as close as I though it was. It wasn’t

The next control was in a pub. The first glass of coke didn’t touch the sides. In fact, I’m sure there was some steam rising as I downed the drink. I had some crisps to slow down the flow of the next glassful. Even though I had filled by body with quality nutrition I still felt like I’d gone through the mill. I think it was here that it dawned on me that I was going to have to climb the Corkscrew in the next section. I suddenly felt rather weak.

TDU (4)

We should have stopped here, I needed a cuddle

The way to the bottom of the hill was mainly downwards with a few little lumps. That didn’t make the feeling of trepidation any better. Ive attempted the Corkscrew once before and it didn’t go well. This time I was hungry, dehydrated and tired. There is a whole world of difference between climbing when fresh and climbing with over one hundred and fifty hilly kilometres in my legs. I went as far as I could before grinding to a halt. I stood for a while gave myself a good talking to and them carried on for some meters and stopped again. I repeated this for a while before throwing in the towel and walking, there had been no cars on the road up to this point, now they came streaming passed all of them laughing at my inability to get up a hill. I tried to save face by cycling the last one hundred meters. It didn’t work

I met the others at the top of the climb. The official route took us down the hill to climb up another. There was no way that I was going to climb another hill. If I went down that road I fully intended to freewheel directly to my house and lay in a darkened room for a large number of hours. I didn’t care that it would be the first time I’d ever failed on an Audax. Luckily the others had no intention of descending and knew another route to our final control that involved less climbing.

There was still a lot of climbing and I was slowly coming to a halt on each climb. I lost count of the times I stopped to give myself a very good talking to. I was having a massive sense of humour failure due to the lack of sugar and liquid. This needed to be addressed urgently at the next stop. Two packets of crisps, two large glasses of cola and a packet of nuts later I started to feel a lot more human.

If I was a professional cyclist I would now get onto the team bus, participate in post-race interviews and probably be banned by the commissionaires for taking the wrong route. However, as I’m not I had to make my own way back to the city. It wasn’t far and it was mainly downhill. At last I could free wheel down the twisting road and admire the view over the city.

TDU (6)

Mission accomplished

This was the hardest ride I’d done in a long time and in retrospect I think I enjoyed it. It took a long time and a few bathfulls of water to recover. There is one thing that is certain. I will be glued to the television when the professionals go the same way.

TDU (5)

It took how long?

Lee Valley (3)

I jumped at the opportunity of a club session on the Lee Valley Velodrome, who wouldn’t? The chance to fly round the Olympic track was far too hard to resist. The only track that I’ve ridden on is Herne Hill: a four-hundred-and-fifty-meter outdoor track. Lee Valley is a completely different proposition: a two-hundred-and-fifty-meter indoor wooden track. The straights looked short and the banks looked tall. The whole thing looked very intimidating from the centre of the track but I was itching to get on the bike and have a go

After going through the formalities of finding a pair of shoes and bicycle that fitted me we were all gathered together by the coach for the initial safety talk. We all sat through it waiting to be unleashed on the track. Even during the safety talk there were differences. The main one being that slowing down to a halt should take two laps: one on the blue and another on the inside track.

Lee Valley (2)

My steed for the evening

Finally, we were let loose on the track to warm up. The more experienced started higher up the track but I wasn’t ready for that. I stayed down on the blue line until I felt ready to tackle the banking. Slowly I worked up the lines and slowly my confidence grew. By the end of the warm up I was quite happily going to the top of the banking and swooping down at great speed. This track was so different to Herne Hill and it took a while to get used to.

Lee Valley (9)

The medal winning GB sprint team was ‘ere

After the warm up the coach gathered us together and explained the next exercise. We were to set off in a long line and, at the end of each lap, the one at the front would peel off up the banking and re-join the end of the line. It seemed very easy in theory but in practice it was a lot harder. The main obstacle was a lack of consistency in the speed of the line. After a few laps, it started to become obvious that some wanted to force the pace and some didn’t. Whenever a fast one hit the front the line would stretch out and then on the next lap someone else would slow the pace down. This made life difficult in the line as one lap we were chasing all out and then the next we were trying not peddle into the cyclist in front.

Lee Valley (8)

Mark Cavendish was ‘ere as well

As I came off I mentioned to the coach that I’d only ever been to Herne Hill and how different this was. He was very disparaging about Herne Hill, saying that it was not really a track it was more like a ring road. I didn’t share his opinion but didn’t feel the need to argue.

The next exercise was all about gaining a lap. We all set off in a line and on a signal the rider at the front would drop down to the sprinters line and go hell for leather to gain the back of the line. Again, it sounded easy in theory but was hard work in practice. The inconsistency of the speed of the line struck again. One moment I thought I was gaining and then the line would speed up. The coach had noticed. He wanted a consistent fast pace. He was concerned that if it went too slow someone would fall off the track. It took me ages to gain a lap and then, in what seemed like an instant, I was at the front of the line being instructed to gain another lap. I feel that I earned my mouth full of Haribo and slurp of water at the end of the exercise.

Lee Valley (7)

Chris Froome was ‘ere too

Each exercise got progressively harder but it all remained fun. Slowly the fatigue kicked in and the rests became longer. I took to finishing each exercise early as the volume of track work took its toll. I was quite relieved when the coach announced that the next ten minutes were for warming down. Some took this as meaning rocketing round the track at high speed whilst others took this to dawdle. I took a path between the two extremes.

Eventually it had to happen. All through the session the coach had warned us not to go to slow. Up ahead two cyclists were dawdling round, half way up the track. Suddenly the one at the front lost traction and fell off the track, taking the cyclist behind with him. It looked messy and spectacular at the same time. Both lay on the track for a few minutes before gathering themselves together and being escorted to the centre to fill out forms and be assessed for concussion. At least we all know now that we shouldn’t go too slow.

Lee Valley (1)

So was Danny Mackaskill

Despite being unfit due to weeks of inactivity and eating I thoroughly enjoyed the session. It left me with the feeling that I wanted to do more, much more track work. I made a mental note to deal with this.

BobMMM (1)

The obligatory post cake selfie

There are days when there is nothing better than leaping out of bed ready to take on a lovely ride in the spring sunshine on Gracie the trike. Today was not one of those days. I was feeling tired and lethargic and I wanted to stay in bed. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’d lured Keith to come on the ride with promises of eating his body weight in cake I would have probably stayed in bed for another few hours.

I met Keith in the car park of the leisure centre where we signed on, chatted to all and sundry and indulged in some preliminary cake eating. Keith seemed happy that the early cake quota on this ride had exceeded his expectations.

We left the car park at the head of the pack and instantly found the first obstacle. Men in fluorescent jackets had been busy closing one of the roads in town by erecting all kinds of barriers and signs. The road we had been instructed to take on the route sheet was very closed to traffic, luckily it was not closed to pedestrians. If we were being law abiding citizens, we would have taken the diversion or pushed our bikes along the pavement. It was, however, early on a Sunday morning so we took the most obvious course of action.

Once we were reunited with ridable road we bowled along at a nice rate chatting about the trivia of life. I slowly became aware that we were way out in front. There was no one coming up behind us. This was strange. I’m much more used to people flying by me at this stage as the fast-paced ones disappear up the road never to be seen again. It doesn’t matter how much I like to kid myself that I’m in that group, I’m not and when riding Gracie I never will be. I was certain that someone would come past when the road went vaguely upwards. The extra weight of a Trike and my inability to go up hills almost assures this. It didn’t happen; I was starting to get suspicious now. I wondered if I’d printed of the correct route sheet or maybe I’d missed an instruction. I even wondered if the rest of the field had been wiped out by a stray asteroid.

Reality intruded on my revelry, the left side of Gracie started to feel a bit soggy. I tried to ignore it but it was followed by a little metallic bumpiness. I slowed and someone behind me told me I had a puncture. The tyres on Gracie are quite a tight fit, I bought them for the colour, everything else was a minor consideration. Keith and I spent a strenuous five minutes of so deploying the full range of tools and swear words to prise the tyre from the rim. If we’d had grappling hooks and crowbars we would have used time. Everybody came past us as we cursed and swore. At least that confirmed we were on the right route. Eventually we won the fight and got Gracie reinflated but that didn’t stop me fretting quietly that the tyre was going down, I’m never that confident with my puncture repairs, I’ve had far too many failures.

BobMMM (3)

Eating cake to the memory of Bob

We could have tried to catch up with everybody or we could have continued at a leisurely pace admiring the spring scenery as we passed though the countryside. It was too nice a day to rush so we took the easy and more enjoyable option. Had the pubs been open we would have been very tempted for a spot of refreshment. We passed some very nice looking (but closed) pubs.

I’ve often wondered if two people on two wheels is faster than one person on three wheels, today the answer was trike overtakes tandem. This is a useful bit of knowledge for when I’m playing cycle top trumps.

Somewhere outside of Ditchling Keith started to smell the cake and slowly speeded up. I watched as he slowly got smaller. I wasn’t going to chase him, there would have been no point. I guess that a couple of hours riding alongside a Trike can make someone a little stir crazy. I caught him up at the cemetery that was acting as a control. This was the whole point of the ride, to visit Bob. We ate some cake to his memory.

BobMMM (2)

Bikes hiding behind a hedge so the South Downs don’t see them

Keith confessed that he had never been up the Beacon and as we were crossing the bottom of it, it seemed rude not to. I had no intention of taking Gracie up there; it was not something we relish. Luckily there was a group of Rovers who were going up so he would be in good company. I said I would ride slowly so he would catch me up somewhere on the way back.

I spent the rest of the ride spinning gently through the countryside in a world of my own making waiting for Keith to affect the catch, just like the sprinters teams do to the lone breakaway in the Tour de France. The closer I got to the finish the more convinced I became that Keith and the Rovers were bearing down on me. I was being the plucky breakaway rider soloing home and they were the big teams hunting from another victory. They never caught me and I got the pick of the cake.

In hindsight, I’m glad I got up this morning, even if my only motivation was to not let a mate down

Man of Kent 200

Posted: March 26, 2017 in Audax, Cycling
Tags: , , , ,
ManofKent (2)

In an ordinary suburban street…

I really didn’t feel like doing this ride. I woke up but failed to get out of bed. I prayed it was raining to give me a legitimate excuse to stay in bed but the prayers didn’t help. Eventually I dragged myself into an upright position and went through the motions. If I hadn’t prepared everything last night I probably would have stayed in bed. The object of my lethargy was the Man of Kent 200 a one hundred and twenty five mile Audax ride around Kent. Last time I’d done this ride on Gracie the Trike but Gracie had been visited by the puncture fairy so I had decided to do this one on two wheels instead. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a long ride on two wheels. It should make a refreshing difference.

I met up with Mark at the start; Mark and I are veterans of many an Audax ride and more importantly we ride at about the same pace. We often put the world back in to shape whilst meandering down country lanes.

The first and longest section of the ride took us from the village hall to a vicarage for breakfast. I would like to think that the ease of the ride was due to my extensive winter training regime but I suspect that it was a lot more to do with the howling tail wind. It pushed us eastward with ease but we knew in the back of our minds that we would be battling it later. There was only one hill of any significance but the wind assisted climb seemed much easier on two wheels than three. After the climb was a long wind assisted descent to the first stop. This is how I always think cycling should be; moving at speed with the minimum of effort.

ManofKent (3)

My bike was at the bottom

The vicarage didn’t disappoint. A bacon sandwich was slapped into my had the moment I walked into the garden. I like that sort of service. The bacon was followed by a croissant and a chocolate biscuit just to make sure that I had all the major food groups covered.

The next section was still with the wind and this made life easy. We made our way quickly to a cup of tea and a large chocolate brownie in a garden centre café. We all knew that this was the end of the eastward journey, things were about to get a lot harder.

ManofKent (4)

Quality carbohydrates

The wind hit us about a mile from the garden centre. Things went from lovely to very Dutch in a matter of minutes. Now was not the time to be cycling alone and struggling with the wind. Now was the time to be in a group, to hang on to a back wheel and take shelter, and to do your fair share on the front battling against then elements. Mark and I teamed up with one other and we battled the wind with grim determination and bloody mindedness. There was no chat, no batter, just gritted teeth and a constant fight. We came to a junction and the other guy dropped off the back, he apologised saying that he couldn’t keep with the pace. This made me feel a little smug and then guilty at feeling smug.

There was a long descent along a beautiful valley near the end of the section; I assume it was a descent because the road tipped downwards. The wind counteracted any advantage here. I assume it was beautiful as one of the other riders told me it was, in the summer, when there is no wind. Today however, I didn’t see much apart from Mark’s back wheel or the road ahead viewed through squinted eyes.

ManofKent (7)

More quality cardohydrates

The next stop was in a station café, out of the wind and surrounded by the comforting smells of mediocre café food. We did wonder whether the small steam trains would take us back to the HQ but apparently the tracks didn’t go in that direction and it would probably be cheating. At least we felt like we had broken the back of this ride and were heading for the finish.

The route changed direction and the effect of the wind lessened. This was a blessed relief after the battle of the last few hours. We trundled along easily to the penultimate check point. Here we joined forces with another group. We were the youngsters in the pack the other four were in their late 60’s and early 70’s. This didn’t diminish their ability to stay on the pace. As we got closer to the HQ the pace increased. It was probably the smell of the tea and the aroma of peaches in ride pudding that did it. As we hit the final stretch it became an out and out race. There was no way that I could have been accused of letting the 67 year old win, he did it all by himself. It was a good sprint to the finish with neither of us giving any quarter.

ManofKent (8)

It wasn’t going our way