Amidst all the gales, storms and endless rain, rain, rain and more rain, today we had some respite with glorious sunshine, light winds and pleasant temperatures. What more could any cyclist want or need apart from a decent bike ride? Well, some company and a fast pace is what I had in the form of my friends Jeremy and Josh who are also signed up for the Coast to Coast ride in June. Josh’s friend Charlie came along too on his featherweight road bike.
It turned out we only had a couple of hours, so we did a spin from Dunstable and took in a spin around Ashridge. Absolutely fantastic cycling country as we enjoy this area so much these days.
Heading out of Dunstable everyone seemed to take it in turns going in front, except me. “Flip” I thought “the only way I’m going to keep up is with a little bit of slip streaming” which sure enough worked. I also remember thinking that if this was a gentle warm-up, I would hate to think of what the real performance was going to be like. Jeremy, it has to be said, was gracious and polite enough to keep me company as we climbed up to Ashridge from Dagnall.
Sunday afternoon drivers
This is a well-used main road, from Dagnall to Ashridge, with plenty of Sunday afternoon drivers out and about. Most were patient, held back and chose their moment when it was safe to overtake. There were one or two exceptions where drivers waited impatiently, blew their horns and roared passed us. Worst of all, as we headed back into Dunstable, was a small black car EK63 ??? who not only blew his horn as he passed but veered in very aggressively, just missing Jeremy. There was no doubt in my mind, it was done deliberately. So if you’re reading this, driver of EK63 ???, please reflect on things – how else could you handle the situation? Were we doing anything so terribly wrong to justify your aggression? No, of course not. Take it easy. Relax.
Cramp, cramp and more cramp
I have blogged before about getting cramp while cycling and yet again I had a few doses of painfully rigid muscles, clamped up and almost immoveable. Today as we were heading over towards Ivinghoe Beacon I leapt off my bike, in agony. Josh, Jeremy and Charlie were a little perplexed at the sight of me throwing my bike down and trying to stretch my right leg out. Muscles between my thigh, knee and ankle were in spasms, plus both feet. It took a little while for the muscles to relax so I could continue and they nervously let me go in front as we descended the Beacon. All was fine until we had just ascended the hill out of Aldbury back up into Ashridge. On Strava this is called Tom’s Ghost II. That climb was okay to a point but as soon as the road levelled off, I could feel my muscles cramping up again. I stood up on the pedals and swivelled my feet around as I freewheeled which seemed to do the trick. My companions were waiting for me a little further ahead and once again I found myself in front for a little while, joined, traffic permitting, by Jeremy.
No ride is complete without Bison Hill!
We did Bison Hill but this time the easy way, blasting down! According to Strava I hit 41mph but somehow I doubt that was the speed for more than a second or so. That was fun. Talk about Cheshire cat, grins etc. We also took in the descent from the Visitor Centre on Dunstable Downs to the bottom of he hill to the Tring Road junction. Wow that was good but not my fastest; nevertheless good fun.
And what was Jeremy wearing?
Before I left home, we were speculating whether Jeremy would be wearing shorts or not. As you can see he was in his shorts, in fact we would have been a tad disappointed if he wasn’t. Now I don’t want anyone to think we have a “thing” about Jeremy’s legs, impressive as they are, but we don’t! It’s just we think of him as being a bit tougher and more hardy than the rest of us. So there we were not disappointed: Jeremy’s legs in February!
We actually like Jeremy’s care-free approach to cycling and looking after his bike, similar to my own. From this I mean the bicycle never really gets cleaned, although I do clean the chain, cassette etc on mine from time to time. We both agree the bicycle is a means to an end, a tool to do a job. The focus is what we do with our bicycles, not the bicycles themselves (although they are often nice objects) and we share this in common. This is much to the unspoken disgust of Paul and Robin, also in the Coast to Coast group who have had a mention before in other posts.
Speaking of Paul, our stats man, he’s rigged up a Wind Speed indicator on his bike and kindly sent me some photographs. These will be posted soon!
So in conclusion, the ride in numbers:
Moving time: 2 hrs 05 mins
Average speed: 15.3mph
Episodes of cramp: 2
Snotty car drivers: 3+
Grins on downhill blasts: lots