From dreaming spires to punctured tyres

Maybe I spoke too soon on Friday. Maybe I have got what it takes to ride the Tour of Britain. Specifically, may I’ve got what it takes to ride this year’s Tour of Britain.  Yesterday’s Oxford-to-Cambridge ride certainly was a contrast to last week’s exploits on the Tour Ride.  The distance was slightly less, the start slightly earlier, the terrain more what I would call undulating than the shark’s teeth of North Staffordshire and the weather… Well the weather was truly ToB 2010: wet, windy yet warm.

The hardest part about riding in the wet is the start.  Who wants to leave the confines of a warm place to get wet and cold. The warm place on Sunday morning was bed and the 6am alarm call was unwelcome. Last week I was suffering from a post Tour Ride cold: sore throat, cough, aches and limited energy.  I hadn’t wanted to admit to myself that I was in this state knowing full well that I had over 90 miles to cover on Sunday so needless to say it wasn’t the best preparation.  However, having committed to rising with my cycling buddy Nicola I couldn’t really back out. Reluctantly I think it’s fair to say that with the added support of Mrs AB we chivied each other up and out and to a very dark car park in south Oxford.  In comparison to last week, yesterday’s “event” was more village fete than major sports parody which was slightly disappointing and somewhat anti-climatic.  The heavy morning rain doing its best to add to the deflation.  And so at just after 7.30 am we rolled out of Gloucester Green with lights and waterproofs on.

The ride itself was fine.  Riding at a slower pace than last week was good and dare I say enjoyable. Despite Nicola urging me to go off at a faster pace, riding together and joined by her colleague Helen not only seemed right it also would be fun.  And it was.  Indeed, as the rain eased (not the wind) and the sun came out, as our thoughts turned to triple chocolate muffins which Mrs AB had procured for the finish it might be fair to say we all sensed achievement. I’m glad we stuck together, I wouldn’t have wanted to do that distance alone nor at the pace of last week and I’m starting to find the joy of cycling with others.  In fact, Helen (who has recently returned from the States) and I were sharing our mutual want to ride with others but a hesitancy over the potential clique of the cycling club. Maybe there’s still some way to go on this one.

And so we finished on Midsummer Common in sunshine. 90 miles under our belts and a nice sense of achievement. My companions were great and despite our couple of technical hitches (and for some the hills!) we had a good time.  Thanks to both Nicola and Helen for the company yesterday and to Nicola extra thanks for being my virtual cycling buddy as its helped a lot!  (Apologies though if I was annoyingly fast at times) On the point of technical hitches though maybe I can send a message to those riders who decided not to bring basic puncture repair equipment to do so next time – good Samaritans only have so much patience when they are getting cold and have chocolate waiting less than 10 miles down the road!

So that draws to a close this phase of the reclaim.  I have completed the challenge I set out to do and added an unexpected bonus.  Now to reflect on the achievement before drawing up new plans.  I’ll keep going out on the bike but try to enjoy some relaxed miles around the lanes and start to find some nice tea shops to stop at along the way.

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