Tuesday 4 August 2015

Tour de Cambridge

I've been bitten by the cycling bug, even more than before.  I've signed up for a London - Amsterdam - Brussels trip for next year, and am also trying to find a group ride from Edinburgh - London. 

I was back on my bicycle last weekend. But unlike my usual long distance trips, I was not cycling solo. A group of us had signed up for a charity ride, and that meant I was accompanying a couple of others - in total there was about 20 friends on the ride, but with differing abilities and speeds, and even starting points, there was no point in trying to peddle in a single group. This was the third or fourth time I've cycled to Cambridge, so not unfamiliar territory, although one of those rides was at night, so the scenery was hard to see. I cycled from home to the starting point, and was delighted that because one part is downhill, I was going quickly enough to make the illuminated 30mph sign flash up a warning to slow down. Little things. We left early because rain was forecast, and none of us wanted to get soaked to the skin....our plan mainly worked as we only had an hour of cats and dogs, and were able to warm ourselves in a pub at the finish. Two of us had broken away from the others - she is married to a VERY keen cyclist, and is in training for her own ride to Paris in September. We managed a very creditable average over the 60 miles of 27km/hour (only the British can put metric and imperial measurements in the same sentence) - this is significantly faster than I've managed before.

Due to a miscommunication, The Cat's Mother (who was driving as she doesn't cycle) didn't arrive in the city until four hours after us, and then spent another hour trying to find her way round the diversion to the hotel. Her arrival was quite important, as she had all our bags, and therefore our change of clothing with her. Oops - it was our fault as it hadn't occurred to us that an early start would mean an early arrival. Eventually, I had to leave the hotel and go and find her in the car, and then retrace my way to get back to the hotel...all a bit stressful. Nothing that a hot shower and watching the penultimate stage of the Tour de France up the mountains wouldn't cure.

We celebrated well that evening, and the next day, five of us cycled back home. As a smaller group we stuck together, taking the opportunity to stop off at a church and look at the war graves before proceeding on to Jamie Oliver's parents' pub at the (roughly) half way point. I had two misadventures: the minor road we were going along had a ford across it, and I gaily went straight through it, except that I was on slick tyres, and the road was covered in very slippery algae. I've never been off so quickly, as the bike just went from under me and I was soaked to the skin - so too was my phone (fortunately the God of mobile phones took pity on it and it still works). I laughed like a drain...I must have looked very foolish and funny as I keeled over and then struggled to get up as my feet kept slipping from underneath me; the other person who did the same was less amused...and even more so when we spotted the bridge we could have used instead. Further along I was riding along, vaguely watching the bird of prey circling above me, ready to slaughter some poor field mouse that he had obviously spotted. Suddenly I realised, that before going in for the kill, he had decided to have a crap...and yes it splattered all over me. It was a big bird and a big shit. Lucky? I don't know but again I couldn't stop laughing for the next couple of miles.

 At the start...a nice early 7.00 am departure

Contemplating my wet pants - funnily that fast-flowing ford looks like a little puddle here