The last time I rode was way back in mid-December — my final ride of my fourth RRTY. In the meantime we've had Christmas and New Year and I've put on another half a stone — but I've also lost most of my muscle mass, so the effective additional belly fat is considerably more than half a stone! It's going to be a long winter and spring to lose the fat and tune the muscles … I spotted a gap in my busy schedule the day after my birthday and decided to fill it with my second outing with Cambridge CTC.
My alarm went off around 8am and I wearily opened my eyes: I hadn't slept well and really felt like staying in bed. But I knew I had to do some work, or it would affect my whole season, and I'd — perhaps a bit hastily — entered a triathlon to be held in May, so I need the miles — swim, bike, run … I beat the urge to sleep and got ready.
The weather looked promising from the morning, although cool at just 3ºC, and brightened through the day to about 7ºC. However, shortly after I got home around 4pm, the heavens opened!
A quick spin thru the centre of Cambridge on my fixed-wheel bike to the traditional start point of Brookside and I met up with a merry bunch of cyclists, raring to burn off a little Christmas fat. Today John Ross was to be leader and he would lead us around a circuitous route to Ickleton — Barton, Haslingfield, Barrington, Shepreth, Fowlmere and Chrishall Grange.
Then it was up and over Royston Lane, Cambridgeshire's steepest hill at 10%, entering Essex at the crest — climbing on fixed-gear is a balancing act of going fast enough to keep turning the pedals easily, but not so quick as to exhaust the energy reserves, and I passed most riders from my position chatting with Mick CC at the back to summit second. There was some jovial complaint about this gratuitous excess, especially as there's another climb out of the valley and over the ridge line for a crazy, spinny descent to coffee in Ickleton.
The Riverside Café just outside Ickleton was already full of cyclists, most of whom were there to join us. They may even have ridden with us from the start — as I don't know that many, it was hard to tell.
From Ickleton it was a bracing climb up Coploe Hill to Strethall, where we lost a couple to a puncture, and then over the chalk hills to Wendens Ambo. Another puncture and John turned back to assist, handing the leadership role to Nigel, who picked the pace up and I dropped back to give a couple of riders a bit of a tow back onto the tail of the group — I've no idea whether it helped or not.
In Newport we turned left towards Debden and immediately started to climb, stringing the group out once more — again I had to attack the hills to keep the pedals turning and lowered the pace only when the slope levelled off, although raising the my cadence on the far side pushing high numbers on the descents.
Eventually we pitched up at the Elder Street Café in Debden where we parted ways: I wanted to get home and had eaten enough the day before on my birthday to feed me for a week, so I didn't need any more to eat. Joseph was the same way inclined and we set off for Linton together, leaving the rest to wait for John and the puncturees.
With Joseph guiding the way, we headed back past Carver Barracks before turning right towards Sewards End. Shortly in the lanes we came across a woman who'd taken a tumble off her bike and face-planted the ground. Her left eye was closed up and the left side of her face bloodied — but head wounds tend to bleed more than you expect. After checking for concussion (nothing obvious) and providing tissues to clean herself up with, we headed half a kilometre back on ourselves to where her husband was doing some coppicing. As he's a qualified first-aider, we left her in his care. It did add an interesting punctuation mark to the ride!
I left Joseph in Linton, his home town, and rode back over Balsham and the long spin back into Fulbourn and on to Cambridge and home to Girton.
All in all a fine day out on the bike. I met a number of CTC members new to me — Mike CC, Nigel, Joseph, Lee, Sue, and others, and chatted to several whom I'd met previously, all good and one of the pleasures of sharing a bike ride
104km in a moving time of 5 hours, 21kph average — not that quick for me, but a decent CTC pace. I managed a max of 58.1kph, cadence of 171rpm — not my fastest on fixed, but close.
Also: Nigel's CTC blog post