This afternoon, four of the five teachers that have opted to take ‘social cycling’ this term gathered at the school sports centre. I was one of their number. The leader is Al, mid-30s wiry, outdoorsy. The alpha male is Steve, late-40s, lean and muscular, with all of the gear but, annoyingly, all the ideas too. There’s Charles, late-40s, small, squat, a bundle of energy always on the verge of an argument with other cyclists/motorists/human beings. And there’s me.
We do a 22 mile loop that takes in the 15%, cat 4, 2-mile climb up Exedown and it is here that I’m comprehensively ‘dropped’ by the bunch although I wasn’t able to change down to the smaller gear on the crank, a possible legacy of the collision with a Mercedes last Saturday. There was also the annoyance of a slow puncture on the rear wheel (again) that necessitated stopping to pump the tyre back up several times over the last 6 miles. The rear tyre is now paper thin – practically ‘slick’ – but also more prone to punctures so some new tyres are on order. I’ve made it sound grim, but it was a beautiful afternoon with the prospect of several more to come over the next few weeks. Is that going to be long enough to prepare me for the Ventoux? Is anything??