Club Run, 18th July, 2015
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 85km/53 miles with 709 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 3 hours 9 minutes
Group size: 27 riders at the start. 2 FNG’s.
Weather in a word or two: Blustery.
Main topic of conversation at the start: The BFG has given up on his wooden rims which can warp faster than a Constitution-class starship and no amount of araldite, solder or exotic spoke weaving-patterns seemed to help them stay true. They’ve now been consigned to the Cheryl Cole: “nice to look at but serving no functional purpose” bin.
Despite his wooden wheel setback, BGF himself however continues to press boldly onward and kept me royally entertained with his tale of taking his latest vintage frame to Boots and press-ganging a bevy of beauty clinicians into helping find just the right shade of pearlised-blue nail-varnish to touch up a small scratch in the paintwork.
JC Peraud’s jersey, shorts and skin shredding crash at the TdF got a mention, especially his X-rated exposed crotch, which thankfully the TV pictures managed to cover with a pixelated-blur. I thought comments that the blurred area was “very small” to be quite mean-spirited.
We then had to disabuse one of our newer members from suggesting our rendezvous point was a lowly bus station – everyone should realise it’s nothing less than a truly magnificent Transport Interchange Centre.
Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: There was some suggestions that this very blog should only be available via the Darknet. Come on… it’s not that bad!
One of our newer riders commented that he was unaware other rides existed outside of our normal routes, was quite surprised to find that the whole of Northumberland was actually open to us and that our collective Garmin’s didn’t spontaneously combust once we turned away from the OGL approved rides.
In a reprise of the “blowin’ in the wind” club run, an exceptional limbo act into the gusting wind narrowly preserved a tray precariously loaded with coffee, cake and other goodies – earning a heartfelt round of applause from all assembled.
With OGL yet again in absentia, this time providing transport, DS, coaching, mechanic and soigneur services to a couple of our promising youngsters competing at the National Junior Road Race Championship, we were again given a little more freedom to pick our route and again seek out roads a little less travelled – and typically a bit hillier.
The weather was a mixed bag of sunny spells, showers, warm patches, icy cold blasts, overcast, then high broken clouds and blue skies, always changing from one corner to the next. The one constant throughout though was an ever present, strong and gusting wind that had us planning to frequently change lead riders from the off. Pre-planning? Surely a first for the club.
Pushing off and clipping in we instinctively avoided the Great North Road Cyclemaze, which has mutated yet again. It now appears to be designed to not only trap unwary cyclists, but also sacrifice befuddled pedestrians and unwitting, wide-eyed school children directly to the gods of the speeding motor vehicle. We await further developments of this sadistic urban planners wet dream, with very faint hope that it will eventually metamorphose into a sensible and safe means of negotiating the insatiable traffic.
I did my stint on the front pretty much from the start, and just for the benefit of those who have accused me of exaggerating my own efforts on these rides it’s worth noting that this was almost exclusively uphill, through a full-on, unrelenting headwind and at a pace that touched the terminal speeds of our typical late café sprint.
Meanwhile, in an alternative universe and much closer to reality, Crazy Legs drew my attention to the incessant chatter, guffaws of laughter and nonchalant whistling drifting continuously up from the bunch behind us – a sure-fire sign that despite my breathless toiling into the fierce headwind, no one else was having to work remotely hard enough behind me. Admitting defeat I swung over and let someone else have a go at a bit of ceaseless self-flagellation.
Well into the ride, we swooped down into the Tyne Valley like a pack of rampaging Huns, disrupting the genteel Saturday morning routines of the sleepy villages, only to disappear in a whirr of spinning freewheels and buzz of jabbering babble (or babbling jabber, depending on if we were approaching or passing) – escaping long before the watch beacons could be lit and church bells rung in warning.
Climbing back out of the valley brought us to the A69 dual carriageway, loaded with speeding cars and lorries, and giving us the opportunity to play real-life Frogger. (For those of us yet to reach pubescence, Frogger is a classic arcade game, a bit like Crossy Road but, way cooler, with better graphics, more engaging gameplay and not burdened by having an infantile name that a Nursery Class might discern as being a little too unsophisticated – even for them.)
Having, eventually crossed the dual-carriageway safely we climbed, then climbed some more, on single-track roads with crumbling surfaces until finally escaping the valley. More miles rolled past, until we hit one of our usual routes and everyone got strung out on the Quarry climb.
At the top we turned right, straight into a fierce headwind, with no chance for recovery. The pace picked up as we burned for the café, then were whipped along by a tailwind at a pace so high it even precluded the Red Max’s traditional, Forlorn Hope attack.
In the final miles I pressed on somewhat distanced from the front group and unable to close the gap, pulling a string of other riders behind me. Easing and sitting up to take the twisting bends was a relief and a chance to catch my breath before rolling into the café.
A totally relaxed run from the café and shortened ride all around got me home in good time to head off on the family holiday. Mission accomplished.
YTD Totals: 3,661km/ 2,275 miles with 40,544 metres of climbing.