Posts Tagged ‘Bob McHardy’

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

BobMcMM (3)

Gracie waiting for the start

It’s the last Audax on my calendar for this year and the last chance before the Christmas madness kicks in to go for a day out on Gracie before she is cleaned and put away for the winter. I had intended to do this ride on the Beast last year but the wheel fell off and put pay to that idea. A ride at the end of November is always going to be fraught with weather based decisions. The forecast wasn’t being that helpful by mentioning nearly every climatic condition there could possibly be, ranging from bright sunshine to howling gales. In the end I just stuffed the saddle bag full of clothes for every occasion and hoped for the best.

BobMcMM (2)

Someone had a long bike

As usual I was the only person in the throng on a Trike, at least it meant that no one noticed that I’d put the back wheels on the wrong way round. I really had no desire to struggle yet again with the wheel nuts so they were going to stay that way for the duration. After lots of chocolate biscuits and procrastination I was underway. I don’t know how it happened but I was leading the pack for the first mile or so. This was a very strange situation to be in and I was relieved when someone overtook me to allow the natural order to return. I wasn’t so happy when they slowed down in front of me though. I had no desire to lose my momentum so I just went by, I few minutes later they passed again, the same thing happened. This was just getting weird. Eventually a small rise sorted things out as my natural inability on hills gave the other bike the advantage to finally stay ahead.

BobMcMM (1)

The melee at the control

There’s a tricky turn near Chailey. I have no idea why it doesn’t feel right as the route sheet describes it perfectly. I remember that last year I sat at the corner pondering if it really was the correct turning. It seems that the Girl with the Silver Helmet was having a similar dilemma this year. Her SatNav had directed her down the wrong turning, so now she was a little lost. We battled against the wind to the correct turning, watching one or two others go sailing past it. The wind had really picked up so I did the ignoble thing and drafted her until we hit a slope and I couldn’t hold her back wheel any longer.

Ditchling is a lovely little village with narrow streets, a combination which makes it a magnet and trap for cars. I spend an amusing few minutes watching two cars impede the movement of all the traffic whilst they were doing the “after you, no after you” thing. Eventually it seemed rude to stay there sniggering at the politeness and chaos so I slipped on by. Ditchling was made sweeter by the fact that I wasn’t climbing the Beacon today.

The final approach to the midway control was into the wind. It really wasn’t nice. A long flat road had been turned into a never ending hill. “It’s all gone a bit Dutch” someone remarked as the crawled past. The tea and cakes made a welcome relief. The knowledge that the way back was with the wind made the cakes taste even better.

I’m sure that the speed of the return leg was all down to my superior fitness and technique. The wind may have had something to do with it but I’m sure it was only a minor part.

I met up with the Girl with the Silver Helmet again near the end; she had watched two people take the wrong turn and now doubted her SatNav. I was following the paper route sheet and had the advantage of getting lost here last year so we joined forces in heading the right way. She was clearly the stronger cyclist and slowly become a dot up the road before disappearing round a corner, never to be seen again.

As always the last few kilometers seemed to take an age but eventually I was rewarded with a slice of homemade lemon drizzle cake and five minutes of friendly banter before packing Gracie into the car and heading home tired and happy.