Sunday, 5 June 2016

Group ride, solo ride, fun, sun and a fondo!

This has been an extraordinary week for me on the bike in terms of distance, off the cuff routes, cold, sun and friendships. So it was no real surprise to me that today I decided to keep going beyond my initial intentions.

I arrived a few minutes late for the C&D Cycles Sunday group ride. This ride has always been a bit more of a challenge that a Saturday ride with longer distances and usually only the stronger riders (with the exception of me!) A small group of five consisted of Steve M, Neil Hi, Kev M, Mark B and myself. Mark expressed his relief that I'd arrived because the others were looking like mean, lean, beastly bicycling machines. (That's my tribute to the late great Muhammad Ali)

Everyone was still confused about the weather. When we set out it was still foggy and the sun didn't really break through for a couple of hours. All manner of arm warmers, baselayers, gillets, 3/4 tights etc were on show. Kev and I had the right idea though; bib shorts and summer jerseys. Neil wins jersey of the day with his athletic fit castelli, an online purchase that he confessed to Chris when we got back to C&D Cycles.

It wasn't long before I was huffing and puffing at the back but the others patiently waited for me at appropriate times. I was actually having a good ride for me, as evidenced by the PR's I picked up on Strava, it's just the others are faster. I'm also playing catch up for not riding enough this winter and for riding a lot this half term (230 miles Monday to Sunday this week, more than any months this year to date!) A bit like Ali, I've realised I need to suffer now to succeed later.

As per usual there was a lot of banter on the ride. For your own protection I can't tell you what the Prince of Profanity and the South African cultural attache to Kettering are discussing. It was just very funny and very naughty. Oh and of course we mentioned Nat's taxi ride at least once every five minutes...

Predictably we didn't follow Steve's planned route. Not a navigational error this time, there was a road closed near Wellingborough. This allowed us to sample the exotic delights of Raunds. Let's face its not a proper C&D ride without a trip to Raunds. We also saw other club members out and about in Andrew C and Neil Ho. One complimented us on our pace and the other as typically cheeky about it. Neil Ho is responsible for the funniest ever comment on an unclipping fail fall. So I will excuse his cheek for now.

Looking at my Strava feed today it's stuffed full of friends doing sportives. The closed road Tour of Cambridge is possibly the most popular. We also got caught up in some Sportive action at times. It's funny when you're on your own ride and on a Sportive route because it confuses marshals and the feed station people! Neil and I discussed the relative merits of Sportives. They are good due to organised routes, so you don't have to do your own navigating. Feed stations and start finish areas are also organised to make life easier. However at £30-40 they'e not cheap. Some of the club are into Audax riding which is apparently like a Sportive except they're way cheaper and you need to do your own navigating. Most Audax people will tell you that they're nicer people than Sportive riders. They also do longer rides. Which brings me to the last option. Organise your own ride! This week I've done two Sportive length rides, it does require you to be more self sufficient but also shows you don't have to part with hard earned cash to enjoy a good long ride. So is there any point doing a Sportive? Well yes, I think so. For starters they can be the focal point of your riding year. Having a goal gets most people in the saddle. They're also an opportunity to ride unknown roads without the worry of getting lost and needing to call a taxi. Finally some of the Sportives are so iconic they're part of a bucket list: Ride London, Etape Caledonia, Dragon Ride etc.

My target for the day was 100km because I'm trying to move up the league table in our work based 'Road to Rio,' challenge. After a quick coffee at C&D Cycles with the good hospitality of owner, Chris, I headed towards home with Mark. I was undecided if I wanted to top up to 60 miles (my brain switches between units of measurement,) because those quick lads had worn me right out. Mark also helpfully pointed out that this Month the Fondo challenge on Strava was 115km (70 miles.) I looked down at my cycle computer and saw 50 miles. Oh flip it I thought...why not. A quick text to the Queen of Cakes and she gave her blessing to me staying out a bit longer and I was wracking my brain to squeeze out another 20 miles. It took some jiggery pokery but I managed to get home almost exactly on 115km. Thankfully Strava behaved itself and agreed to distance and boom June Grand Fondo complete!

June Gran Fondo
Okay. Not only have I been allowed another great day in the saddle but Mrs Lindsley is currently preparing that most English of delicacies, Toad in the Hole. It's nearly there so I should finish up quickly. I really am a very lucky man!

Happy Pedaling

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