That was fun! When I say "fun", what I mean is "cold"! I rode to the start – that makes a very nice change, even if leaving a bit late meant I had to use much more effort to get to the start than intended. No problem: I arrived with 5 to go.
Note: this ride report is a mild rewrite of my submission to yacf, here. Codified names are the nicknames of people on the forum, sorry about that. The post date has been changed to the date of the ride.
I bumped into Fidgetbuzz, who I knew was riding, and also HK and Big Saxon, neither of whom recognised me initially because I was wearing wrong-sized wheels! A double-take from both parties brought a smile
We had a flat run out from Hauxton and a tailwind for much of it, so it was a lazy 30kph spin for a bit.
I dropped Fidgetbuzz and Denise at the first big (everything's relative) climb of the day out of Six Mile Bottom: I had always intended to put some effort into this hill, because as a Cambridge-based flatlander then hills are somewhat unusual round these parts. Denise tried to keep up and I heard from Rog that next time he saw her she was heading in the opposite direction. Was it something I said? No, we found out it was a gear cable breakage when we got to the finish. At the top of the hill a group of riders kept going, but the route went left. Rode with LittleWheelsAndBig for a while, comparing notes on the up-coming season.
We had started in fine sunshine, but within 25km it had turned decidedly wintery: sleet and mahoosive snow flakes at Woodditton. Watched someone turn right when really they should've continued straight on, no amount of hollering could avert them. Very wet before the first control at 35km. Bumped into Lars and Gareth and David in the control – halloo!
After a shivery time in the control – it really was that wet outside – we set off and Fidgetbuzz and I set a good pace with a strong tailwind. It was good to catch up for a bit and the pace was good to Stowmarket and control 2. We bumped into some riders who'd been shivering at the first control but looked okay now, which was good news. A swift plate of beans – double portion for single price, go figure – and off again. We turned into the wind and the terrain became distinctly "Essex": big enough to hurt, but not big enough to recover on the other side.
At the top of the climb out of Subdury's gravity well the big, fat hail started falling and I kept my head down. This is at nearly the end of March, come on!
A strong solo push to Finchingfield and the third control, but possibly too strong a push, because by now I was kernacked.
The final leg really hurt into the wind. I was surprised, though, that nobody passed me, because I bounced the control and there were quite a few who looked like they were about to leave. Eventually HK and LittleWheelsAndBig caught me after the info control, while I stopped to check I'd answered the right question (from memory). I didn't even attempt to suck a wheel, I was thoroughly spent.
Shortly after, spotted a couple of cyclists coming at me from the wrong direction (Dave and the young'un): they caught me up, turned out they'd taken a wrong turn after the info control and were just getting back onto the route. We stopped to sort out lights and then time-trialled (!!) the final 20km into stinging little hail stones back to the finish with JJ to try to get the young'un back in time for a club meeting – back at 18.30: 10h30 on the road, 8h50 moving.
A smashing bowl of hot soup and cake and biscuits laid on by Terry the org, thank you! A quick blast on LittleWheelsAndBig's Moulton for comparison purposes – definitely more to my liking than these funny-sized wheels I'm on this year. Halloo to Orange Andy, Emma, VC Norwich Guy and Fidgetbuzz, who all made it back shortly after.
Then a quick 30-minute spin back through Cambridge to home. I tried to order a Green Chicken Curry with Extra Chilis from our local Thai-food pubbery for collection on the way, on account of feeling like I properly deserved it, but no takeouts on a Sunday, boo. Back before MrsW, though, so credit there.
A grand, if cold, day out. Organisation slick and smooth. Route gently challenging for the beginning of the year. Would recommend, although better weather next time please