Sunday, 26 February 2012
A day of three halves
Maths was never my strong suit.
In December, my friend Jo suggested that willing parties might consider a 12 in 12 challenge; a century each month in 2012. Why not...?
January's was knocked of early one Saturday on a clear and icy day.
February arrived and then very quickly came close to passing (a combo of work and playing in the snow number among my feeble excuses for letting the month drift by).
Old friend Justin suggested I ride with his club (Henley) on their 56 mile reliability trial. A quick bit of Google maps scouting suggested that riding over and back would come to something a little over the required ton. Hmm...
Up before dawn (those who know me will know what an anomaly this is) and out at the first hint of light on the horizon. Recent warm weather had informed my kit choice, but of course, I had not considered the unfamiliar early start.
Shivering past frost-covered cars, I was treated to a colourful dawn and mist hanging over the Thames as I neared Henley.
After espresso and friendly chat we were set to leave. Obviously I'd made the optimistic choice of riding with the fast group of the the three on offer, after all I'd had a warm up ride hadn't I?
This being a reliability trial we had a set time to complete the loop (a mix of some of the longer Chiltern climbs in the area and some flatter Oxfordshire roads). We'd need to average over 20mph which is unknown territory for me, but with a large group there'd be plenty of wheels to follow.
After the initial blat up Pishill (yes you do pronounce it like that - something to do with horses stabled at the pub at the top I'm lead to believe) and descent from Stokenchurch some order was applied and a regimented pace line formed.
The rouleurs of the group (of which I was not one) kept us at a high pace as we rolled around the lanes of Oxfordshire at a not-entirely civilised pace. Passing Chalgrove with my eyes on stalks I glanced down to see 31mph - eep!
Discipline was abandoned as we approached the biggest climb from Watlington and one rider clipped a wheel to forward-flip into the verge. Fortunately he was fine, if a bit embarrassed and we dragged ourselves into the Chilterns and back down to the Thames for fine coffee and apple strudel at the rather lovely Chocolate Theatre cafe.
I still had 25 miles to pootle back and took the route past Stonor and on-looking deer in time for chocolate milk and soft-boiled eggs on well-buttered crumpets.
What's for dinner?