Feeling Gravity’s Pull

Club Run, 30th August, 2015

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                     116km/72 miles with 1,037 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                             4 hours 27 minutes

Group size:                                           16 riders, no FNG’s.

Weather in a word or two:             Fine

Main topic of conversation at the start: Peter Sagan’s (fully justified) hissy-fit in the Vuelta when he went postal on the medical car, a race motorbike and his own bike after his collision with a service motorcycle. There was some speculation that if a camera bike was in any way involved then the tape of the offending incident would most mysteriously disappear.

Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: The sudden reappearance of wasps at the café, which made their previous absence all the more notable. Where have the little boogers been lurking all this time, lulling us all into a false sense of security? Does this mean we can expect an Indian summer? I’m not banking on it.

Our club activists put in an appearance railing against the Great North Cycle Maze and Death Trap™ – amongst other things. Wisely OGL is determined not to get the club involved in any kind of “official” capacity.

Ride Profile
Ride Profile

The Waffle:

After a week of travelling by vaporetto, climbing on and off planes and hauling suitcases (did I mention I’d been away?) I was suffering with a bad back, but reasoned a bike ride would either kill or cure. The first couple of miles were decidedly uncomfortable, but as I pressed on to the meeting point and warmed up everything seemed to work itself loose and I began to feel much better.

“Don’t make me angry – you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”

16 lads and lasses pushed off, clipped in and rode out from our meeting point, in warm and dry, if overcast conditions. I spent some time behind one of our racing snakes somewhat mesmerised by the strange twisting patterns his right foot described as it drove the pedals around and futilely trying to work out exactly what was happening bio-mechanically. I’m still none the wiser, but I do know it doesn’t seem to slow him down any.

Somewhere along the byways and highways most of the amblers bailed out, sneaking silently away from the back of the bunch, so by the time we stopped to split the group I was left facing a covey of gimlet-eyed, racing snakes, who all looked hungry to whip up the pace and dish out some real hurt. (More precisely, I guess the collective noun for racing snakes should perhaps be den, knot or pit, although maybe we could borrow from cats – a glaring, crows – a murder, or sheep – a hurtle.)

At this point OGL stated he was going direct to the café as his hamstring was feeling a little tight, and so, looking to the better part of valour, I decided the Hamstring Ride was the order of the day for me. We were joined by the Prof, Captain Black and a few others, and duly set off.

Unfortunately our route began with a long, straight downhill leading to an even steeper, faster descent. We were meant to turn a sharp right to pass around a radio mast at the crest of the hill before the road tipped over to a faster, steeper bit. Even with such a blatantly obvious landmark to aim for  I got carried away by the moment, (or maybe it was the momentum), and swept straight past the junction to plunge downwards. Weeee!!! Great fun.


Although I quickly realised my error,  I was enjoying the descent so kept going until the slope eased and I slowed and pulled off the road for a quick toilet break. It was at this point that Rab D. went whistling past, shouting something utterly incomprehensible.

As he isn’t quite as dumb as me and quite happily holds his own with the racing snakes, I reasoned that he wouldn’t have missed the turn-off and must be going on a longer, planned ride of his own devising, so I didn’t give his sudden appearance (and disappearance) much more thought.

Now on my own, the road signs ahead were all pointing resolutely toward Jedburgh, which even I could figure out was the wrong way to go, so I turned around to head back up the hill. This is a climb I can only recall having ridden once before, on the Tyne Velo Reliability Ride a couple of years ago, and it would be safe to say I enjoyed it much more this time around.

In splendid isolation for the second week in a row, (was it something I said, or more likely wrote?) I began plotting a route onward, although somewhat hampered by my shockingly incomplete knowledge of the roads and villages north of the river. In fact I spent some time vacillating between working my way to the café, or simply crossing the river at the nearest point and tracing a longer way home on more familiar roads.

After a few false starts, quite a bit of back-tracking and a great deal of indecision, I set  course for the café, trying to push the pace as much as I could and, if by some miracle I chose the right route, seeing if I could catch up with any stragglers.

After a while I started to recognise the roads and was soon climbing past the Quarry and homing in on the café. A couple of miles out a familiar voice cheerfully announced there was a car behind and I turned to find Rab D. camped on my back wheel, having chased on since that fun descent and somehow engineering a route that intersected with mine. We reached the café together and not too long behind the others.

The ride home was uneventful, and I found myself tackling the Heinous Hill with a little more enthusiasm than my last outing, to end a somewhat different, but enjoyable post-holiday ride.

YTD Totals: 4,369km / 2,712 miles with 49,664 metres of climbing.


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