Archive for February 2008

January Spindle

Hot off the press is another months copy of the Spindle, you know where you can find it!

Stowmarket Reliability Trial

Stowmarket Reliability Trial(63miles/100km) 17th Feb
So on to the third RT of the year. Stowmarket & District CC’s event is held, interestingly enough, in Needham Market. Terry and I travelled out together for this. The fun of the Wivenhoe event was quickly forgotten as the main field set off at an alarming pace – whilst I was still in the toilet. Terry, recently returning from a training camp in the Med, suffered an adverse reaction to the cold of the Suffolk roads and despite catching the back group, we were almost immediately riding on our own. Terry was clearly unhappy so we agreed to separate. By Hitchin (again) I was on my own (again) in a long and largely fruitless pursuit of the rest of the field. Only passing a few stragglers (some of who’d stopped for a leisurely chat with Len who was also passing by, distributing DVDs!), I rode on alone but at least I was on some unfamiliar roads. As I turned onto the Shotley peninsular though this worked against me as I soon lost the route. But on the upside this did lead me to pull out in front of a small group of guys who helped me find the way back onto the route. We rode together for a bit but by the time I was back on familiar roads we’d split into three with me in the middle, and I slogged back to Needham Market alone again. Thinking I’d sold myself short by getting lost I was pleased when the clocked ticked over 100km as I pulled into the car park after 3.5 hours. Over an hour behind the front runners but still in time to get a tea and a piece of cake. Despite everything though, I’d enjoyed the outing. It was a good training ride – thanks to all concerned at S&DCC.

So what’s next? Oh yes, I’ve got the next Spoco 10 on Saturday and it’s the Colchester Rovers Reliability Trial on Sunday. I must be mad!

Cotswold Corker

Managed to find a nice caravan site in Swindon village, which was 2 miles from the start control in Bishops Cleaves Cheltenham. This is my first AAA with a total climb of 1900 meters.

I arrived at the start at 0845 and was amazed as to how popular this event was. They had to stagger the start time as over 250 cyclists had entered. I pushed off with the first 50 and stuck with a group of 6, four of which were Cheltenham CC. This was to be to my advantage. Due to the nature of the course there was a lot of ice and these guys knew where to be careful. Having gone 15km and climbed 2 of the steepest hills ever, I was beginning to wonder if I had done the right thing. We had to dismount on a number of occasions due to ice having formed across the whole road. At one hill a rider in front shouted a warning of ice and dismounted, I followed suit and walked the bike across, noticed a rider getting close to the ice and warned him. “Is it ice or water?” he asks, “both” was my reply. “I’ll take my chance, thanks”. Next thing I heard was “bugger” as his bike slid from under him. The climb up to the 3rd control took some effort. An older chap came along side me, smiled and announced, “This is why God invented the granny ring” and cycled into the sunset. My chain fell off a couple of times after the third control, lost sight of the Cheltenham guys and ended up finishing on my own.

So, not for the faint hearted these AAA. Long climbs and fast descents. Which reminds me, better check my break pads before I take the bike out again.

Ely Hardriders 25

Ely Hardriders 25(40km) 10th Feb
Partly through blind optimism but mainly through sheer stupidity, I allowed James to persuade me, against my better judgement, to enter the Ely Hardriders 25 mile TT. Despite my cycling heritage I have to admit that I have never done a 25 or even entered an Open TT before. At least it might stop Len hassling me, I thought – one way or the other!

Forty-two or not, my naivety is such that it was only when the entry confirmation dropped through the door that I wondered why it was called the “Hardriders” event (something to do with being for hard riders perhaps?). Spotting Lee Bark’s name on the list it occurred to me that I may have made a grave error. Still, in for a penny in for a pound is one of my many mottos. So I promptly added to my problems by returning the enclosed entry form for the whole 2008 season of Spoco events – quickly before I lost heart – which was to be shortly after we arrived in Ely. On a very cold but windless morning, newly appointed Team Manager, Rog talked the talk but as we drove the course, it finally dawned on me that this was 40km – almost all up hill (!?) – with no tail wind – it was cold – I didn’t have Ken’s wheel to sit on – I shouldn’t have gone to the pub last night – I was alone – and I was scared!

With due reason too. It was bloody hard. I set off like it was only a 10 (as 10s were my sole experience of time trialling up ‘til now) and quickly passed not my minute man but my third minute man! The fact that he was standing on the verge crouched over a flat tyre didn’t dampen my enthusiasm – I wouldn’t be last! In my far from faultless preparation, I put new batteries in my heart rate monitor, tested it out – on the right bike, and then left it at home on the kitchen unit. I didn’t need it though, to tell me that my heart was about to jump out of my throat if I didn’t slow down. That was about as long as my enthusiasm lasted. 25 miles! At this rate I wasn’t sure I’d mange 10! I pulled out onto the A road and ahead of me there was a long line of traffic held up behind a tractor. My roadie instincts told me “if I could just get to the rear car…” But this was a time trial – that’s not allowed is it? So am I supposed to slow down? (Per chance!) I always did think this was a silly sport. Luckily for me my dilemma was resolved when the cars all passed the tractor on a long straight leaving me to catch it and pass it – wide on the other side of the road. I may come in last (or second from last) but no-one will accuse me of cheating. From here on it just continued to be hard

Between 25 and 35km two or three riders passed me. Clearly quicker – but their legs were barely rotating, such was the size of the gears they were pushing. Just watching them made my legs hurt more as it was only my pride preventing me from switching to the little chainring! After what seemed like another hundred miles on the bleak fens, I saw ahead of me a large group of riders. Now either they were all cheating or it was the local club run. It must be a club run so I’ll soon whizz past them! But I couldn’t even catch them. Eventually we turned back towards home onto what must be the bumpiest stretch of road in the fens. My legs were already burning but at least now the club run guys started to split up and one by one I eventually passed them all – wide mind.

I tried to muster a smile for TM Rog who I spotted lurking with his camera but almost immediately past him I was aware that the bumpy ride wasn’t only due to the poor state of the road. My rim was hitting tarmac. Oh! and wasn’t I on for a course record? – Well by definition, it must be a personal best and I didn’t want to keep putting “42 year old novice” on my entry forms so I pressed on to at least get a finishing time, doing the last 5km on a flat tyre. I felt like crying when I eventually hobbled past the chequered flag. I did cry when I realised the finish was another mile or two from the HQ and I had no team car to get a lift back in. I stopped to examine the tyre but my brain was as flat as the tyre was so I just rode back gingerly on the already ruined tyre. 1hr 13mins 26secs. Joint 26th out of 32 finishers. So at least I wasn’t last – even discounting the DNFs. James was 12th with a very respectably 1:05:47, but he was wearing Lee Bark’s overshoes. Lee did 58:27 in his other overshoes. A full quarter of an hour ahead of me. I decided I must be planning to peak later in the season – and to borrow Lee’s overshoes myself next time!

The Norfolk Mardle

According to my Google search a Mardle is ‘To waste time in gossip’, although what this has to do with riding 100 km on a bike escapes me. The CCS contingent of Roger, Robin, Andrew, George, Mark and yours truly convened in the canteen at the University of East Anglia to discuss tactics for the ride and bemoan the fact there would be only one café stop on the route. On reflection perhaps this was our Mardle. We started our ride under a clear blue sky albeit a bit chilly. The route took us out of Norwich and onto the minor roads to Intwood, and Mulbarton onto the B1113 and B1134 to the information control at 25.8 km. It was along this section of the route we were tempted to stop at a farm advertising cakes for sale, however we all agreed our bodies were temples and would resist the temptation to stop. The route crossed the busy A140 and carried on the B1134 to the Pulhams, Starston, Harleston and on to the second control and Café stop at Halesworth, 61.2 km. The Bridge Street Café always provides a good selection of grub, my particular favorite being the date crumble which comes in man size portions. Following our refreshment stop we continued our ride through Rumburgh, Homersield, Alburgh and up Dove Hill, the only hill on what is a very flat route. The route then took us to Hempell, Saxlingham and Shotesham Mill, a picturesque ford with no bridge where it was necessary to ride over the wooden footway to avoid the fast moving water in the ford.
At this point we managed to apprehend a kind gentleman to take a photograph of our group. By this stage our group had swollen to about 20 riders for the final section of the route through Swardeston, Colney and Colney lane to finish back at the start point at the UEA.
This was a very well run and supported event, ideal for our first Audax outing of the year. The mainly flat route was well designed to make use of minor roads, the weather was superb which all made for an excellent day out on the bike and a Mardle.