Club Run, 22nd August, 2015
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 110km/68 miles with 954 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Group size: 27 riders, a smattering of FNG’s.
Weather in a word or two: Grey
Main topic of conversation at the start: Everyone did a swift double-take as OGL rolled up to the meeting point at precisely 9.01, only one minute behind the advertised start-time and, as regular readers know by now, fully 19 minutes ahead of our traditionally belated “grand depart”. He rather sheepishly admitted his premature arrival didn’t mark the start of some kind of personal, time-keeping epiphany, but was simply a consequence of Mrs. OGL being away on a family visit.
I was delighted to learn the Great North Road Cycle Maze has now sprouted a second “Cyclists Dismount” sign and continues to mutate in ever more convoluted, dangerous and unexpected ways.
I was called out for sporting a bottle in the exact red, yellow and black as my bike frame. Shucks, guilty as charged.
Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: The disastrous and neutralised Vuelta TTT, which apparently ran across seven different surfaces: marble, stone, wood, dirt/sand, asphalt, tile and plastic in its short 7km. We naturally wondered if anyone would stop to change to bikes more suited to each particular surface. Probably not, but might have added a frisson of excitement which the actual (non) event sorely lacked.
I caught Grover wandering around outside like a stereotypical NCO martinet, inspecting everyone’s bike, perhaps checking for chain wear or unacceptable levels of grime and taking notes to report back to OGL. He confided that his girlfriend had offered to buy him anything he wanted for his birthday, but all that he could think of was some new handlebar tape! I guess that’s the consequence of already owning a blinged to the hilt Pinarello.
Speaking of bar tape, I managed to catch up with Moose Bumps and ask if his bare handlebars were a clever way of saving weight. Apparently it’s more of a consequence of just being forgetful and lazy.
Someone complimented me on Reg, proving once and for all that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
With the early forecasts all predicting heavy rain throughout the day there were heightened levels of pre-ride procrastination about not only what to wear, but what to ride. The morning brought no clarity with leaden skies pregnant with potential rain, but an uncomfortably warm, humid atmosphere. While this would eventually translate into heavy, air clearing thunderstorms later that night, the chances of avoiding rain on the ride remained distinctly uncertain. Taking a chance on good fortune for a change, I decided to keep the winter bike in mothballs, but made sure I packed a waterproof as a bit of insurance.
As if matching my indecision, there was a mixed collection of winter and best bikes on show at the RV point, and an even wider assortment of wardrobe choices , including as many in just shorts and jerseys as in waterproofs, overshoes, arm and leg warmers. Red Max compromised, turning up on his winter bike, but kitted out with summer wheelset. G-Dawg, obviously fearing the worst, came out on his winter bike and wearing a heavy Gore-Tex rain jacket that didn’t look as if it could be easily packed down and stowed away if things stayed dry.
After a brief “pep talk” when we all repented our sins for the previous week’s bad riding, 27 lads and lasses pushed off, clipped in and set out.
I drifted until I was at the very back of the group as we hit the country lanes, and was riding along, quietly content in my own company when an intermittent hiss, like a damp and misfiring Catherine wheel, announced The Cow Ranger had a rear wheel flat. The cries of “Puncture!” didn’t reach the front group, who sailed blithely on, oblivious to the problems at the back.
With only me and a couple of friendly Grogs left for company The Cow Ranger was duly inducted the Club Hall of Shame, as a misfiring CO2 cylinder left him at the side of the road with a common, easily fixable mechanical, and no means of putting it right. I lent him my pump and we were soon underway again, chasing the main group, but with no idea which route they’d taken.
At each junction we’d slow looking for tyre tracks on the rapidly drying roads, and at one point I was tempted to press my ear to the tarmac Tonto- style to see if I could pick up the subtle whirr of carbon and soft clunk of shifting chains. The two Grogs gave up at this point and turned off for their own ride. I pushed on with The Cow Ranger, lining it out as we started a mad pursuit which netted a host of personal best times on a handful of Strava segments, but brought us no closer to catching the main group.
Our crazed chase ended prematurely as The Cow Ranger punctured again. For fear of a disintegrating tyre and running out of both spare tubes and the benevolence and patience of fellow riders, he borrowed my pump one last time before calling it a day and heading homeward in shame. It was while fixing this latest puncture I noted that, rather bizarrely one side of his handlebars was covered in red tape, the other in white. Odd.
Left to ride solo, I now began a complex guessing game of trying to decide where the main group was, where they might be going and how I could intercept them. I set off following some of our more common routes, and at one point passed the two Grogs who were now heading in completely the opposite direction! Although I passed other solo riders and groups there was no sign of the club run. It later transpired that today was the day for something a little different and they’d taken one of our much less travelled routes down the Ryals.
I finally decided to turn for the café, winning the personal sprint with myself along the way, and arriving nicely timed between the amblers and the Faster! Harder! Longer! group.
I was able to catch up with a few fellers on the ride home and still have time to mock Taffy Steve for his worryingly, girly advocacy of fruit cider shandy (I always took him for a Stout or Bitter man). Even better, for once the widely predicted rain decided not to spoil the day, and I made it home long before the impending storms.
YTD Totals: 4,253km / 2,642 miles with 48,627 metres of climbing.