It’s Saturday lunchtime and I’m sitting on a spin bike in my local leisure centre, warming up for the first of two back to back spin classes.
Out of the blue I received a text from one my cycling buddies, Malcolm “if interested Gary & me are planning to do 100 miles tomorrow, carrying on after club ride”.
This would ordinarily be a straight forward “Yes” but this morning’s events and my plans for the weekend cause me to pause to consider the request.
I had mistaken the time of my first spin class and turned up an hour early… “uh oh!” I thought to myself “how frustrating” but hang on “I’ve got an hour to kill and I rode here on my mountain bike”… obvious really… let’s go mountain biking for an hour.
Anyway, back to that text… my non-committal reply was “I have to say I’m tempted. A lot depends on how I recover from today. I’ll ride to the coffee stop and see how I feel going back.”.
The next few hours were spent slogging my way through the double spin class and then (as is usual for me) the most indirect back home… 68 miles in total… now for some recovery.
Roll on Sunday morning and we meet at Nomads HQ at 9am. The forecast is dry, mild for this time of year, but with a wicked south-easterly wind. The trouble with forecasts is they’re generally wrong. The wind… yes, we were still experiencing the lingering remnants of Storm Doris, but dry… definitely not!
Malcolm is there to greet me… “so are we doing a 100 today?”… “maybe” I replied “I’ve brought enough energy food just in case, but let’s see how it goes”. I’d already banked 15 miles, by setting off an hour early, but was keeping that to myself for the time being.
The 30 something mile route to the coffee stop was relatively straight forward, albeit on wet and mucky roads. There is a club rule about using mudguards during the winter months… this doesn’t seem to apply to the my group… only one out of eight had mudguards and we all arrived at the coffee stop soaked and splattered head to foot in mud.
What a sight, anyone would have thought we’d just come off a mountain bike trail. The coffee shop was very accommodating, serving this drenched bunch of bespeckled cyclists while mopping up around us as our rain soaked clothing dripped onto the floor.
By now I had chalked up 48 miles and still felt relatively fresh, so the 100 was do-able. It was just a case of venturing back out into the post-Doris apocalypse again after the joys of this warm and dry sanctuary.
Venturing back onto the bike after sitting around in damp clothing is not the most pleasant of experiences. We were all still wet, most of us were cold and I was beginning to shiver.
The consensus of the group was that it was colder now than when we started, which is probably why the pace shifted up a bit. This was OK for a while as I warmed up, but with yesterday’s mammoth session still in my legs I began to struggle and kept dropping off the back of the group.
The trouble with getting dropped is that you have to work twice as hard to get back on, then when you do, you just get dropped again as the pace picks up again. This circle of events went on for a while until I was so far behind I could no longer see the line of riders as they snaked through the country lanes.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep this up for the next two hours, so I was considering breaking away from the group and riding at my own pace when Michael saved day with a puncture. This enforced stoppage gave me the opportunity to have a whinge about riding as a group, have a quick stretch and down a caffeine gel. I don’t know which of these did the trick, but that was it… I wasn’t dropped again for the remainder of the ride.
During the stop we agreed a route out west towards Steyning in order to drop the non-centurions off and then loop back for three of us to complete our centuries. This involved going through my home town, in fact we passed within a stone’s through of my house, as if to tempt me into an early submission… but I was having none of that and rode passed the key turning.
By now the weather had dried somewhat and was beginning to warm up, making the last couple of hours a bit more bearable. The non-centurions were dropped off one by one as the three of us made our journey back east.
Remember those 15 miles I rode before meeting everyone else? Well, they came in very handy now, as I had the least to do. I span off to head home after passing through Ditchling leaving Malcom and Gary to slog it out another half an hour or so.
Thanks for the invite Malcolm. Another one completed, albeit a rather mucky one… now where’s that hose?