Posted: October 10, 2011 in 2011, Rides

I woke at about 5.30 am to find rain battering at the windows. Hmmm, I’m supposed to be riding later, let’s see what it looks like out there. Tip toeing across the bedroom I eased back the curtain and stuck my head out of the window. It was warm but it was hammering down. Now I don’t mind riding in rain but when it is cascading from the sky like water falling off Victoria Falls, I tend to give it a miss. I reset the alarm (which hadn’t gone off yet) and crawled back into bed. A nano second later the alarm went off and a brief look out of the window confirmed there had been little improvement nevertheless, I went downstairs and began go prepare breakfast. While chomping on my toast I couldn’t see any improvement, the rain seemed set for the day and I capitulated. A quick text to DT to cancel and a call to Richard and riding was off. Once again I headed back to the sack, the only glimmer of hope being that the weather would improve. At about 9.00am the rain had dropped off and I spoke to Rich. I was told to MTFU when I was less than enthusiastic and, as my legs were tired from yesterday’s ride and swim, I tacitly agreed to go out for a short recovery ride, nothing strenuous, just a gentle spin for maybe an hour. I thought about ringing DT but there wouldn’t have been time for him to get here and he would probably have made other arrangements by then.

Once on the bike, the rain had stopped. My legs screamed ‘TIRED’ at me but I figured if I kept spinning gently they would soon wake up. A brisk wind blew me towards our meeting point. Imagine my dismay when Rich suggested we head back upwind, and uphill! Still, I turned around and struggled back up the road I had been screaming down a few minutes earlier. In deference to my feeble condition, we hit the road for several miles and the pace just went up and up until I was in top gear and pushing hard. Beads of sweat had already begun to roll off my helmet peak so I knew I was working. This was not turning out to be a recovery ride after all as Rich kept the pace high – probably getting me back for recent rides where I have been in the ascendant. In due course, the black stuff was left behind and we hit the trails. Here the 29er came into its own as I forged ahead over anything rough and stuttery, sandy and soft, and anything pointing vaguely uphill. (I will be in trouble if Rich gets a 29er as he’ll leave me for dead.)

My moment of doom almost came crossing a series of fields. The sandy soil had firmed up with the rain but large proto run off lakes had formed in a series of uber ruts, cut into the surface by tractors, 4x4s and motor cross bikes. Rich, who was leading, span out a bit causing me to lose my line on the dry, high, side and I plunged into the abyss. Almost up to my axles in muddy, chemical sodden, water I retained enough impetus to roll through and up the other side. Bike dripping with brown goo, I plunged into a second (even deeper) rut lake but managed not to fall off. A few pedal strokes had me clear albeit somewhat damper than before.

I was on a tight (time) deadline so we agreed to turn vaguely for home at a junction which turned out to be overrun with quad bikers on gleaming new machines, pristine leathers and gleaming, steaming cups of tea/coffee. So we headed for home via a new detour. One of our usual bits of trail had been reinforced at the end of last winter with rubble and ‘stuff’. During a lone ride in the spring, I spotted that a lot of the ‘stuff’ comprised what seemed to be medical waste, syringes, swabs etc – it went on for yards! As a result, I give that particular section a wide berth. Our detour was a grassy trail, heavy riding but much better than riding through the alternative.

When I am tired, my energy levels fluctuate and I move from feeling strong to weak and back again in a matter of minutes. Thus it was once we had put the orange hill to rest and I yo yo’ed off the back of Rich’s wheel until we hit the tarmac by West Stow. Avoiding Lackford Lane in favour of the ‘easier’ road route home, we battled up a long, exposed, drag towards Cavenham. As the senior of the pair, I laid claim to drafting rights and sat in, tight, as Rich did all the work until we hit the steepest bit (which isn’t very steep). I took over and crested first. From then on my legs alternated between jelly and partially cooked rhubarb. By Risby I was all in and we parted. I got home ok just in time to shower and help with lunch preparation.

A quick recovery ride had turned into a 30 miler at 14s. Given the state of my legs and the strength of the wind, this was quite a surprise and certainly not what I had intended. Oh well, swim tomorrow, night ride on Tuesday and then a rest day on Wednesday! 🙂


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