Saturday, 5 November 2016

Friends, countryside, cyclists!

Image result for autumn walks northamptonshire

I love this time of year. The vivid autumnal colours, the low sun, falling leaves, halloween and bonfire night. Even more personal to me is I have the opportunity to light the log burner, my birthday is in November, the rugby season is in full swing and it reminds me of some truly memorable rides.

Today, the club I ride with, C&D Cycles CC, had their first Gran Fondo weekend. This meant we had a choice of planned rides with a standard 30 miler for the fast group and banter bunch and an extended ride for those who wanted to complete this month's Gran Fondo challenge on Strava. I didn't feel I could spare the time for an 80 miler so I opted for the standard Saturday club ride.Again I must praise Andrew Brown for the superb organising of our rides. I now have the ride calendar synced to Google where all the routes are available as a direct link.

Today's route is known as the 'Oundle Classic.' It's one of the first group rides I went on with the club and is possibly our most used route. There's a good reason for that. It's a good route! It was also a good choice for today because many of the riders know the route which in turn means there was no shortage of ride leaders and tail gunners.

Here's a cheeky little private joke for you: it's a well known at the club that I wear frowned upon trainer socks to ride. However today I was in winter kit with tights and overshoes so I decided to go secretly wacky on the sock front. I was glad of those long legs today because there was a bitter wind. It was okay whilst riding but you lost heat very quickly on the stops. Others went even further with undershirts, rain jackets, full finger gloves, buffs, headwarmers etc. I would have boiled in all that but that's the benefit of being a 'larger,' rider.

A cockwomble and a plastic cockerel

At the shop a healthy group gathered. Around ten riders set off on the Gran Fondo ride and the rest of us formed one group for the standard ride. At 17 riders we were on the limit of a sensible group size and this soon proved to be the case as the same car twice tried to pass us only to have to stop on the wrong side of the road facing oncoming traffic. This was incredibly dangerous so if anyone knows who owns SY02 EKN, a quiet word about road safety is advised. He also had a car full of kids including one who looked too small to sit in the front. At times like this you can blame the motorist and carry on regardless or do something pro-active to improve safety for all. Thankfully we did the latter and split the group, making us easier to pass and less annoying to motor vehicles.

How could you not love that?

I think I've said before that I used to encourage my friends to cycle. However since then I've discovered it's easier to make friends with cyclists. Today I renewed my bromance with one of my best ever cycling friends. Steve and I haven't ridden together for ages but today we just carried on where we left off. It was the usual enigmatic blend of pure filth, fast show quotes, unexpected facts and a shared understanding that we're very different but our love of cycling brings us together. Steve's facts for the day: Eels are the only fish that can swim backwards and if you google 'Teresa May porn,'  you will discover that such a thing exists (all be it that another Teresa May is a former glamour model and porn actress!) He also enlightened me that the resort where we stayed in Almeria is in fact a former Olympic village now used for holiday makers! Even more Steve likes it there because it's where Spanish holidaymakers chose to go making a difference from other more Brit dominated areas of Spain! That's right 'air,' Steve embraces the EU in all it's glorious diversity. My goodness we covered a lot on today's ride! The last discussion point of note is that Steve feels that Holly Willoughby's dress up as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad was the best Halloween costume he's seen this year!

Image result for holly willoughby harleySteve may have been the highlight of my ride today but I must also mention that fellow riders old and new were a pleasure to be with today. A mention needs to go to Linda who was concerned her flashing jacket (that's a cycling jacket with a built in light, not something less savory,) was annoying (it wasn't.) We've never ridden together before but she has read this blog! 
Back to the cycling and I'm glad I didn't do the Fondo ride. That biting wind had completely sapped my legs for the last few miles. I was glad to get back to C&D Cycles where this week we had cake from Alison and owner Chris entertained us in the usual manner!

The brownies were particularly nice!

SuperSam has cyclocross tomorrow in Biggleswade as we count down tot the KCC hosted event on the 19th. Some of us in Dad's club have decided to enter the novice race (please make a nice course Mark Evans and James Simons-Boswell - oh yeah we saw James out on the ride today!) I'm now a member of both clubs but will ride in C&DCCC colours on the day. Which brings me to my video of the week. I'm always looking for a new challenge but don't feel the need to go longer than the 200 miles in a day we did last year. So I've found this ridiculous idea - The Three Peaks Cyclocross race!

Finally today's Saturday tea for the Queen of Cakes and I is a cyclocross inspired Belgian recipe, carbonades-flamandes:

Image result for hairy bikers belgian beef stew

We'll be having this with frites (chips,) and washing it down with Ale, which is the traditional way to do it! 

Even more finally I've heard that the Fondo riders also got home safely so all in all a great day of riding for the club!

Happy Pedalling

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