12th Dec 2016
Once again, after a week spent sweating while going nowhere on the trainer I was ready for actual forward motion and fresh air, although it was fresher than I like if I’m honest. It was also incredibly slippery on the cold wet roads, with the added challenge of decomposing leaves robbing the tarmac of what little grip there was.
It was quite a large group on the social ride out to the Bakehouse near Chelmsford on Sunday morning, by far and away the largest group I’ve ridden with and it presents its own little issues. Are we going to keep a healthy distance from each other or ride as a peloton? Am I taking my turn at the front or being all about the draft? Am I holding riders up or am I going too fast? Although, as it was a social ride these are perceived problems rather than real ones, however, no-one wants to be the wheezy kid at the back. Something that did become clear was because it was a social ride where you stop at main junctions to let everybody group up again and to make sure no-one gets lost, you’re not sure of the level of the people you’re riding with. One persons major effort is another’s leisurely pootle. A point that was bought home to me as I gave a major effort to get to 30mph on the flat only to be overtaken by another rider with effort to spare. Label me humbled.
Like I said, the week leading up to Sunday had been spent doing structured workouts on the turbo trainer, with the notable exception of a 31 mile (50km) virtual ride to qualify for entry into a Zwift competition, and once again the effort spent in my confined training space proved worthwhile out on the road. The last time I rode the route out to the Bakehouse, it’s pretty much a 50 mile round trip for me, it was enough that I did it, this time however, I felt the desire to push myself on some of the climbs and it was definitely easier. Actually that’s not strictly true, there is a cycling theory that suggests it never gets easier, you just get faster, and it certainly seems that way.
All the extra efforts though did take their toll a little and the ride home from the ‘official’ start finish location was quite tough. A situation not helped by somehow finding myself leading a smaller group, of stronger riders than me, back to Rayleigh. To get from Hullbridge to Rayleigh you have a climb, no way around it, your only choice is which nasty hill to use. My choice is London Hill purely due to it being lighter on traffic. I was sure that was the way the others in this smaller group had chosen too so I led, and wanted to at least show a respectable pace, for me anyway. I got my head down and put in a solid effort, surprisingly no-one went past either. Trouble was I was far more fatigued at the bottom of the London Hill that I would normally want to be. At the top I was a mess, I recovered reassuringly quickly but for a couple of minutes I was just done. Feeling more than a little pleased that I hadn’t stopped and remained up front of the mini peloton, I turned, wearing my best game face that would show I wasn’t really trying, to find myself alone. I still don’t know at what point they went an alternative route, probably because they were being held up by the wheezy kid up front with the game face suggesting mild constipation.