This week’s 3rd Rule of Saturday Cycling is: Share the Slipstream Lurve
It turned out to be my friend Robin who was today’s cycling companion. With Robin being one of my friends also doing the 2014 Coast to Coast, most of us are keen to cycle as much as we can to preserve some fitness during the winter months.
We did a 46.5 mile ride this afternoon at (according to my little Cateye) an average of 15.9mph. I was pleased with that: looking back it was a hard ride with plenty of gusty head winds. Without any kind of co-ordination we seemed to take it in turns in the front, therefore creating an easier ride for the other tucked in behind. This is all very well but unbeknown to Robin there were a couple of times when I struggled to keep up with him and then when you’re more than a few feet behind, the effect has gone. Slip streaming takes some care and concentration in needing to be alert to dodgy drains, pot holes and all the other delights our crumbling roads have in store for us. During the last 15 miles I was running out of steam on the hills as Robin whizzed up with no effort whatsoever. I knew I was flagging when I went to change into the 36T chainring and make it easier for myself – only to find I was already there. Flip, another reminder of the training I need to do!
Nevertheless the companionship and comaraderie of cycling with a friend shone through. In my mind I’m starting to put ‘labels’ onto the Coast to Coast group and here’s where I’m starting to think of the right label for Robin. He’s always been an active person – running, skiing (and still an instructor) and just this year has taken seriously to cycling. Talk about zero to hero. He’s got a real “can do” approach with a zest for life, always with an encouraging smile and heaps of tolerance for me when I’m holding him back. Hard to sum all this up in one word; I’ll need to mull this over!
No cycle ride with me is complete these days without a brief stop for a Trek or Nakd bar interval. I gave Robin the choice and without any hesitation he went straight for the Cocoa Brownie. “Sticks with you, keeps you going” the label says and it certainly fuelled him well for the next 20 miles. LIke many of the Trek energy bars, dates are a key ingredient and these are a brilliant wholefood energy source.
Probably my own favourite is the Mixed Berry Trek bar, although this might change as I am totally hooked on this range and trying them all. It is nice to enjoy these, knowing that I’m getting the most from the ingredients as they’re cold pressed together. The success of this is dependant on getting the right blend of ingredients, blending, mixing and pressing them altogether. Quite an achievement when it’s done without any gooey syrups or other binding ingredients. As for the ingredients, these are simply dates, soya crisps, raisons, oats, apple juice, maize starch, strawberries, ginbo bolboa extract, ginseng extract and just a hint of natural flavouring. All this adds up to provide me with 204kcal, 5g fibre and “one of my five a day”.
Back to the ride
I couldn’t resist having a go on Robin’s Trek. A full carbon fibre frame set, Ultegra group set and upgraded wheels. You might think that would have me flying. Wrong shoes! Just try riding Shimano SPDs on Look pedals, or vice versa. We’ll probably give you a fuller review some other time but for now, take my word for it, this is one fab bike. As for mine, Robin thought the ride was soft and comfortable, which I guess an old fashioned steel frame would be compared to an ultra tight carbon fibre frame.
On the approach to Wing, where we had our break, a peloton of cyclists whizzed by; they could only have been 30 seconds behind us. Robin said they would probably have over taken us within seconds had we not stopped. I suggested they may have been trying to catch us for 10 miles (I say optimistically). With the strong south westerly wind, the stretch between Wing and Brickhill was brisk, easily rolling along at between 20-30mph on some stretches. The most scenic part was either side of the Brickhill climb and the wooded areas towards Woburn.
Heading back to Dunstable was okay but the hills were sapping my energy. Ordinarily I would happily amble my way up whatever hill but having to make that extra push to try and keep Robin’s pace was simply too demanding. Doubts about the Coast to Coast whirled around my mind: could I make the 150 miles in a day? What about the climbing needed? It is going to be so demanding, no doubt there will be plenty of highs and lows. Although I still don’t know if I can make it or not, I’m certainly going to have a jolly good try!
All in all, a brilliant ride, thank you Robin.