Sunday, 26 February 2012
What a great day for the Luton CC reliability trial, great weather, thirteen club riders and my birthday to boot. As usual we rolled out of Energié to ride to the start and get a little warm up in. Signed in, paid up and with map in pocket we set off for the 100km ride. Now I had hinted about it being my birthday, and expected the club to look after me like a elderly Lance protected by his Postal bodyguard. Obviously the boys weren't singing from the same hymn sheet as me! Though you could call the ensuing pace as postal or full retard, and to be fair we held it together far a good while until a long climb just before Bovingdon saw the club group get broken up by traffic. Sadly for me all the other green jerseys had had kept clear of the chaos on the hill and were hammering along the false flat past Chesham onto Great Missenden. That left me chasing like mad much to the delight of all and sundry sucking on my wheel. With legs starting to fade I got a shout from behind, RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT I just overshot a tight turn into an ascent only to see everyone I had been towing disappear into to the sun. You should have heard my language, even the leaves fell off the trees! Still I'd put in a stint that would do me good later. Heading towards the Lee I caught up with Stuart, I think the second casualty of the pace? and for a moment I had a wheel to share. Then I made a schoolboy error, confusing a through road with a junction on a hill I changed down whilst braking, then realizing I was on a crossroads sprinted across. SNAP my chain broke. I waved Stuart on and the whole world cycled past as I fixed the chain (carry a quick link folks) Job done I was on my way again. Reaching Buckland Common I almost caught a few more riders from the fast group. Though try as I might I chased and chased through Berkhamsted through Tring and to the base of Toms Hill I couldn't get on. All the solo chasing had now taken it's toll, and stupidly I chose not to eat all ride. So I had to weave up Toms Hill, a cheery Slapton Wheelers rider went past but I couldn't keep on his wheel either. So with Toms Hill done it was a case of going as quick as to Ringshall before turning left to summit the Beacon. And once over the beacon it is downhill ALL THE WAY home to event HQ in Edlesborough. Back at HQ we stopped to chat about pace, incidents and generally how good the whole ride was. I think that this is now my favorite reliability trial. Thank you Luton CC. So after tea and cake, the clubmans staple we rode off home, well back to Energié to cross the T's and dot the I's. Great stuff......virtual handshakes all round.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Sunday, 19 February 2012
I did say, so don't say you weren't warned. I said for two quid it won't be waymarked. And I was right, today's Beds Road reliability trial was 'old skool' i.e you've got to rely on yourself to get around.
Luckily I didn't have to rely on my ability alone to get around, I had Adam with me. I just have to say that giving Adam a map while he is riding a bike is like injecting him with something you should only administer to a race horse. With Adam in seventh heaven I struggled a little to keep up. So at about 20'ish miles and somewhere near Harlington we parted company.
What followed after that was a nightmare. Not having a clue as to where I was and needing to go, combined with the need to don reading glasses at every other turn to read my soggy half eaten route map meant I might be out for a while!
However as luck would have it, I got caught by a fast moving group of six riders. Definitely not an opportunity to be missed, I jumped onto the last wheel and within a mile or so I felt much better.
With two roadmen in our group both happy to work all day I wondered if we might catch Adam up again. Also in our group were some locals. So the now half eaten paper route guide could be shoved somewhere.
Now big ringing it in formation I thought I would only finish minutes behind Adam. We pushed on, the roadmen leading and route instructions coming from behind. We passed some places I recognized but don't know the names of, with the exception of Streatly and Cranfield. We even tore round a part of the old Cranfield road race circuit which was a bit of a buzz. Now three hours in I was in my element, and convinced that I'd now catch Adam just as he wheeled his bike into the event HQ.
The final hill, known locally as 'maggot hill' was the only obstacle facing us on our return to HQ. And upon reaching the top you are greeted by the sight of Cardingtons two famous airship hangers in the near distance. Though once down, the wind kept one last treat in store for us. A strong headwind which we took on as if we were leading out Cavendish to the finish in Paris. Then swinging out of the headwind you are back.
Once inside the old clubhouse I see by the clock that the huge effort has only returned a time of four hours, which is very disappointing. And Adam has finished a staggering twenty five minutes ahead of me.
Then whilst drinking the free tea. Tom, Stuart and Richard arrive having also done a three and a half hour ride. Then it's the turn of Craig and Rob to arrive and they've also done a three and a half hour ride. Heavens knows how fast that route would be if it was waymarked?
Still 64 miles in four hours with a fast dissolving map for company isn't too bad.
Hats off to the fast boys.
Sunday, 12 February 2012
And cycling just go hand in glove, especially when the snows on the ground and the barometer is still in the negative. And today the camaraderie was there in bucketfuls for the Edgware RC's turn at hosting the Chiltern Classics.
The turnout was very low and you had to feel for them, but the small group made it feel special.
Without my team mates for support choosing the fast group was bit optimistic, but I went for it anyway. And at 9am sharp we were shoved out into the cold. And without a word, a look, a move of the hand a small group of six formed and hunkered up into two up for the whole 100kms.
The route or what I know about it was a tour of the villages with the hills of the Brickhills and Ivinghoe thrown in. Normally I'd go into detail about the route, but today was more about making sure you rode between the white stuff lining the roads and followed the Orange markers.
Banter was also a bit limited, but riding with experienced guys is always a pleasure. And when the riders know the unwritten rules of the group it's a double pleasure.
That said the highlight of the riding was going over the Beacon, with it's snow piled high each side and the mist getting thicker as you neared the top, that was truly stunning.
Once over the top the route back to the events HQ is a fast affair. And as the finish drew nearer we did start to talk to each other, mainly about the tea and cake that awaited us. My cake fantasy was like something from the Beano, thinking they must have made enough for a hundred riders and there were only forty of us tops....that's two each.
Back at event HQ it was handshakes all round, a good sit down and a cup of tea.
I do want to thank the guys I rode with. Two Henley riders, a Verulam rider, an ex Anglia Sport Hurret rider and an unattached rider.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
With the country coated in the white stuff there was never going to be much chance of riding either of the two local reliability trials. I know the Beds Road Club event was cancelled, but I'm not sure about the Hemels one.
Anyway, by 9pm Saturday I'd decided that the best option was to take my recently built mountainbike out and over to Woburn.
With no firm offers of riding partners I set off from my door at 8.20am. My route gets off road pretty darn quick, after only 200 metres I'm on the BW running up through Southcott Stud. Another short road section then I'm in Bluebell Woods. This was a great section with a descent through virgin snow. Onto the road again for a bit before turning off road proper.
Up through Rushmere with it's new cycle trails (see photo) Whilst riding here I can see three tyre tracks and I know who they belong to! Marcus, Julian and Jack. I follow the trios tracks through Rushmere and up an arduous climb to Stockgrove Country Park. Still following their tracks I hit a massive drift and I'm forced to dismount for a few feet, God knows how they rode it?
Through Stockgrove I approach the A5 to jump on the cycle path. The trios tracks have now gone so they've obviously taken to the road. The next section is along the old disused section of the A5 and then I see three tracks rejoin the path....no fun on the road huh?
Next is Woburn. The trails look stunning. I'm forced to think of the Biathlon circuits I like to watch on Eurosport. The snow is briliant white, the pines are draped in snow and there's a mist hanging low, it's like a mini British Columbia or Scandinavian forest.
For some time I've been sweating like mad, I thought I was working well within my limits, but the sweat pouring down my face says otherwise. And I can feel a hole forming in my stomach from the calories I've burnt.
In Woburn I bump into riders from Corleys Cycles and Twenty3C, but I don't tag along. Instead I make full use of the tracks they're leaving and the going becomes a lot faster.
After a full loop of Woburn I turn and trace my path back home after letting my tyres down to 30psi.
Now fully dialed in to the conditions I push it, and find the snow is dealt with far easier at speed, which I knew already!
Woburn, Stockgrove and Rushmere done I just have the long climb up to Bluebell Woods to complete. And complete I must as I have an audience of sledging families. At the top I meet Barney from the club and find out I've been out for over four hours
The final hill done and it's road - off road -road and home.
I'm feeling very pleased with myself. Today it was good to ride there, but I know if it freezes it's another story, and one I don't want to Blog about.