Four of us from the Coast to Coast bunch decided to enter the Luton CC Reliability 2014 Challenge. It turned out to be not quite how I expected it to! But first, here’s an outline of the event itself. There were about 100 cyclists taking part and it is traditionally an early season training run. The distance is about 60 miles and as it’s not a race, cyclists leave as and when they’re ready within a one hour window.
The four of us set off together and following about a dozen cyclists, some wearing the Luton CC strip. It was fun being part of the “peloton” and falling into place. Jeremy had spotted the mudguards on my bike (much in the minority) and figured being right behind me was the place to be. You could see the club hand signal operation at work by pointing out potholes and other hazards.
After a mile or two Jeremy and Josh were in front and Paul (Mr Technology) was starting to lag behind. What made that a little tricky for Paul was that he was no longer slipstreaming and was therefore having to put in some of his own effort. This was brought home to him as he checked his Windspeed Indicator and compared it to the conditions and his selected gear. This in turn was compared to the heart rate monitor to ensure all was well. If necessary he could monitor his cadence rate and take into account his actual speed, as shown by his increasingly complicated dashboard.
As if this wasn’t enough, Paul was mindful of his calorie burn rate and had shrewdly calculated that he needed to consume a total of five Aldi flapjacks over the course of the ride. To ensure he had a constant rate of fuel and fluids, stops took place at regular intervals for scoffing and slurping of said fuel.
Map reading error!
While we were amidst the other cyclists, we didn’t need to take too much notice of the direction signs but by the time everyone had overtaken us it became something we ought to take more of an interest in. For about 10 miles it wasn’t a problem as we were on familiar turf and I had recognised the route. The tricky bit was near Potten End when we arrived at a cross road junction without a sign. Luckily there were some marshals standing nearby (there was a cross country 18 mile run taking place) and they happily said which way all of the other cyclists had gone. That was great and we pressed on, whizzed down a hill and arrived at a T junction with no signs. It occurred to us we must have missed a turn.
We checked the map and sure enough we had indeed missed a turn and I had a pretty good idea where we were. Mr Technology said he would confirm that once he had found a GPS signal for his SatNav, which until then was missing from his handlebar dashboard. The debate then took place about whether we should ride our way back up the hill and resume the right route, or, adapt the route and re-join later on. We agreed to turn around and go back up the hill.
After a bit of dithering around at various junctions, we spotted someone to ask. He was in fact a gardener behind one of the electric gates some of the well-to-do folk around there have. Just as he was pointing us in the right direction, a car pulled up and the driver asked if we were in the Luton CC event. We confirmed we were and he said he was removing the direction signs. Being a generous and sympathetic kind of chap, he said not to worry, he wouldn’t be driving ahead and removing them. I even pointed out HMP The Mount with its new wing being constructed (I should say my knowledge of this is purely professional and not through any personal experience).
We decided to take a short cut, knowing we were seriously behind everyone else and just head back over more-or-less the right route. I wasn’t leaving Paul behind; after all, what would I want in that situation? Before long we had a tail wind which was blissful and once again Paul was able to enlighten me with the figures to prove it was indeed a tail wind.
We had reasonable weather, at least it wasn’t icey or snowy. Neither of us had any punctures or mishaps. So there is something to be grateful for. This is what friends do, they stick together. Well, most of the time they do as there were times when I’d offer to go in front (thinking Paul could tuck in right behind me and benefit from slipstreaming) and then find I had left him behind, so sorry about that Paul. We made it back to the start in slightly under the 60 miles.
Related: Inspired, or batty?