Carlos’ pasta salad was a DNF. Instead he goes for pancakes, maple syrup and a banana, and 2 double espressos to ‘get things moving’. I go for grapefruit segments, brown bread, a banana and earl grey, milk 2 sugars. Standard.
Today was our last big outing before we head for Provence, the South Downs Spring Sportive. For a combination of reasons Carlos and I had to make our way separately and with the sat nav telling me that I would arrive at Plumpton Racecourse 7 minutes after registration closed, the journey down became increasingly fraught. Caravan? Check. Horsebox? Check. Vintage Steam-roller doing 4mph ffs? Check. The final twist was the nav sending me down a dirt track.
But I made it to the car-park, jogged to the registration with minutes to spare and set off on the ‘Short’ route. In truth, it was a lovely morning ride but nothing remotely challenging. I reeled in cyclist after cyclist and checked the stats on my watch. On the last sportive that we did at the end of March, we were categorised as ‘Bronze’ with an average speed of <13mph. I knew that this time I was in the Gold category because the average speed hovered around 17mph throughout. The chain came off twice today but I am becoming adept at re-attaching it. What I can’t shake is my total lack of confidence that it will engage into any gear and stay there.
As I was loading the bike back on the bike-rack Carlos, who had completed the longer ‘Standard’ route, found me. He, too, had stormed around the track and it is fair to say that we both feel that this is probably as good as we get.
Our suspicions are confirmed hours later when we get not just our times, but the times of the other riders. I’m 7th out of the 147 riders that do the ‘Short’, but the glory belongs to Carlos. Over to you mate!
The first ‘social cyling’ session was a week ago. I was lumped with the remedial group that included boys that didn’t know how to change gear or even why you might need to. They knew how to ride a bike but that was their limit. Actually, one of them didn’t look too clever riding a bike and seemed magnetically attracted to parked cars.
The first part of the session involved pushing the bike around the car-park and getting a feel for the front and rear brakes although I couldn’t help thinking that this would be good preparation for the first incline that they encountered too.
The cycle instructor then led us out onto the roads and the subsequent tour was unbelievably stop-start. By the time we’d completed no more that 10 miles in about 2 hours I had enough pent-up frustration and energy to go out on the Penshurst Bidborough loop and smash my previous best time.
Tuesday’s ride was with the elite group, back up Exedown on a 25 mile loop and then today I took a intermediate group up Yorks Hill and then back via Hever Castle. None of them got up Yorks. I did though, and unwittingly set a PB time: Damn these slicks are good!