Since starting this blog, my partner seems to think I’m suddenly some super cyclist – which if he’s read my blogs (and he says he has!) surely he would be aware – that I am not. Nevertheless he must think I’ve substantially improved, as for the first time, on Christmas Eve, I was invited to join . . . the boys ride.
On entering the kitchen where the group had gathered, I immediately felt a sense of regret; they all looked so professional – I was not up to this!
Putting aside my fears and worries, I headed out at the back of our mini peloton, and all was fine.
For like the first 5 minutes. . .
Possibly not even 5 minutes into the ride, we came up to a red light – no biggie. Naturally, without giving it a thought, I slowly brought my bike to a halt. Then, to my absolute horror . . . I couldn’t unclip. I was twisting and twisting my ankle but nothing was happening, I was strapped to my bike and there was to be no getting out. And so, right there, beside my man & amongst his cycle buddies and the waiting traffic, in what felt like horrific slow motion, I toppled sideways and met my fate in the way of the ground. Oh the shame. Naturally they all turned round – and there I was, on the road scrambling back up like I was Bambi on ice. This is where I could kill my partner; without any pre-warning he had – that morning – changed my SPD’s! Gone were my lovely, super-easy-to-clip-out-of beginner-level ones, and in their place ‘proper’, seemingly-impossible-to-clip-out-of ones.
Why he thought it was good idea to force my advancement from Beginner to Experienced, ahead of this particular ride, I don’t know. Maybe he hates me.
If it is in fact a rider’s rite of passage to at least once fail to unclip and topple sideways, then I have transitioned in spectacular fashion, and perfectly timed with an audience. Luckily, for him, after some loosening, I did not topple again.
Recovering from my fall and back up in time for the green light, we ventured on. Throughout the ride I learned a lot about group riding; the hand signal for moving out into the road to avoid pot holes or such (which kind of looks like you are imitating having a tail), the “car” and “back car” shouts, which obviously warn of cars coming up behind, or towards the group, and the pointing out of things on the road to avoid, again mostly pot holes, and quite literally you just point at whatever it is, as you ride past it. I asked my partner how his friend was even seeing all these things in enough time to warn others – his response was “everything is moving much slower in his head than it is in yours”. Fair point I would say.
We were out for just over 3 hours in total, with a godsend of a hot chocolate break 3 quarters of the way round. I kept a fairly good (for me) average speed but did find the ride really tough. The weather didn’t help, with bouts of heavy wind and heavier rain. I obviously fell behind on the hills, which was fine, but then rather than getting any kind of rest period once at the top, I had a lot of catching up to do! & when I say the hills were fine, most were – two in particular, were not; they were steep, long and to be honest they almost killed me. I got up them though, & with only 1 rest stop on the first one! I’m afraid it took multiple rests to get up the second. A nice reminder that I may have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go!
We separated from the group towards the end of the ride. The legs were struggling and I was feeling slightly overwhelmed, so we bid farewell and pushed on home at a slower pace. Despite the struggles it was fun and I’m really glad I went along. I always feel such a sense of achievement after a lengthy bike ride, and I felt especially proud of myself after this one! Once home, I hit the sofa and was asleep within seconds – I didn’t even check my strava stats!
I should end by thanking my partner’s friends for their encouragement throughout the ride, and for their patience…. lots of waiting around in the cold for me to catch up!