Bill took me by car to the start of the ride, the M25 wasn’t that busy of a Sunday morning and it didn’t take long to sort the bike out, so I started at about 9am. At the start there was some argy-bargy in the peloton, with the male racing-bike riders trying to get past the girlies and MTBs by rudely snapping at us and pushing! And this a charity ride that isn’t supposed to be a race!!
I was still very wary of my new cycling cleats, after having got one shoe stuck to the pedal yesterday, and having to walk through Halfords with one shoe on and the other still on the bike to get it removed :-[ So I was freeing myself in plenty of time for junctions and along the crowded gravel track through Lee Park.
I knew the weather was going to be bad – so I wasn’t that worried when, just a few miles from the start, it began to rain. I put my pac-a-mac on, and my gore-tex helmet cover, and kept going. By the time I reached the second food point (never stop at the first one!) it was raining quite heavily, and the riders were crammed into the tea-tent trying to shelter. I had a cup of tea, a banana, a doughnut and a pee, and also asked the mechanics to sort out the brakes on my front wheel, which were loose and in contact with the tyre.
The route was rather undulating, not as flat as I’d been expecting. There were some pretty villages that the route took us through, such as Roydon and Clavering, but with the raindrops on my glasses and the steam from my breath, I couldn’t really appreciate my surroundings.
By the time I got to Ickleton I was completely saturated, right down to my undies. I was cycling past another official food stop, the Red Lion, when I saw a sign ‘Beer Festival and BBQ’ – bingo! I grabbed a seat, queued for the loo and got myself a beer (Tom Wood’s Bomber County, lovely). The queue for the food was quite long, in the rain again (I’d stupidly left my coat on the chair) but the cheeseburger was huge and only £2.50. A funny team of cycling guys in the pub – all with Foska tops on and one wrapped in a tin foil cape!
Then it was only 10 miles to Cambridge but I was knackered by then. I pushed the bike up the last big hill not because it was particularly steep but because I couldn’t face cycling it! The rain was now very fine but still heavy, some people had their lights on so that they would be visible to the cars, as the road into town was quite busy. I was merrily following a cycle path into town and saw a sign that said ‘cyclists please dismount’, but could not be bothered to struggle out of the cleats. The cars coming out of the side road were stationary so I cycled behind a big BMW – only to nearly get run over by a car trying to cut round it on the left (where there was no room to get through anyway)! I had to grab the back of the BMW to stop myself – bet the driver was not at all impressed! However despite their drawbacks the cleats provided excellent grip in the rain, I think I’ll keep them on the bike for now.
I made it to the finish line at Midsummer Common, Cambridge at about 3pm – huzzah! I soon became cold once I’d stopped, and just wanted to get back home, so I did not stop to enjoy the beer tent and massage, and got staight on the lovely warm 15.30 coach.
The coach’s windscreen wipers broke down in the rain on the M11, and I thought I’d be stuck there – but 4 lycra lads jumped out and fixed it, to loud cheers from the rest of the coach! Got back to London and found my bike, which had been a bit battered in it’s lorry, – will have to get the gears fixed now. :-( Next time I will take the train. Thanks to lovely Bill for coming and picking me up again!
Can’t say I enjoyed it but it was certainly an achievement – cycling 50 miles in the rain!
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