Group ride with a twist and a slip and a slide

After the beautiful weather we've been having for quite sometime, the weather forecast for yesterday (Saturday) looked a bit dodgy with light rain forecast, so we arranged to call around before we left to confirm we all wanted to go if it was raining. 

When I got up just after 7am to get ready it was quite misty and lightly drizzling. I'm a fair weather cyclist, so if I'd been riding on my own I would have gone back to bed. However, it was a group ride and I was the only one with rain at my house. When we started chatting to agree the go/not go Matt had already left home – so he was committed. Malcolm said Saturday suited better than Sunday – so it was a go. 

Just as I was leaving the house Warren called to say something had come up and he couldn't come but the other three of us were on our way. It was misty and lightly raining for me all the way out to our usual meeting point at Chiddingstone and at our meeting point is was raining but not too heavily. 

I had my best nights sleep for at least a week on Friday night, so felt quite chipper as I left the house. A large bowl of porridge and a pre-ride energy drink can't have done any harm either. 

I got to the meeting point a bit late and Matt and Malcolm were already there and getting ready. After a discussion about where to ride (as the weather in every direction didn't look any better) we agreed to repeat the ride Warren and I had done the day before. So we set off towards, Bough Beech, Hever, up towards Mark Beech and over towards Chiddingstone Hoath. We then headed for Fordcombe and looped around to Penhurst and then rode up Penshurst Hill towards Leigh. 

We were all feeling pretty good at that point and my Garmin Forerunner was telling me that we'd only done just over 25km together so we decided to keep going and headed over to Hildenborough, then Tonbridge and up to Shipbourne before starting to head back towards Chiddingstone. 

Certainly for the first half I felt really good (which was a plus after struggling a bit with the ride the day before) but in the second half my legs did start to ache a bit – but fortunately not enough to slow me down too much. Malcolm was on good form too, riding with an electrolyte drink for the first time and I think it made a difference to him on the second half of the ride but I'm not sure he'd agree. The pace was pretty good. 

Matt hasn't been able to ride much lately, so it was good to have him out with us. He's just bought a pair of 2010 Easton EA90 SLX wheels and it was nice to see those and compare them to my 2008 ones – which I love. Matt's lack of riding really only showed on the hills where he couldn't keep the pace that Malcolm and set – but that was fine, we've all been there and it's never a problem to wait/slow down a bit at the top to let someone catch up again. 

As we started to head back towards Chiddingstone the weather started to clear and the roads began to dry quite quickly. It had never been more than light rain really and it was still over 20 degrees – so a nice temperature to ride in. I can always tell when it's wet as at a certain point there's enough water in my shoes to squelch a bit on each pedal stroke. It was wet enough to do that but it was still warm. The only moment of slipperyness for me was accelerating out of a junction up on my pedals I rode across a large manhole cover and my rear wheel stepped out but it wasn't a problem. My Vittoria Pave's were designed for riding in conditions like yesterday – they're the best tyres I've ever had.

Thanks to the 9am meeting time – I was home not too long after 12. As I arrived at my house one of my neighbours who I've not met before appeared and wanted to chat about my bike as apparently he's interested in getting one too. We had a chat and I recommended a couple of local shops to try out. 

After a number of problems with my Garmin Forerunner 50 and the Cadence sensor (I've now had both replaced under warranty) – they worked perfectly yesterday and I've attached the extra data. I installed the new cadence sensor on Friday night and made sure I set the wheel size because if you don't they can be pretty inaccurate. I'd love a Garmin Edge 705 (it would be particularly great for my cycling in France during August) but the budget for one is a challenge for the moment. However it was great to have the speed/cadence sensor working again. They are great – when they work!

Even with the rain yesterday it was a really good ride. According to Garmin it was 86.05km and I think that's close enough to the truth. I climbed just over 1,000m too, which is good. I'm not quite so sure that it's assessment about how much of the time I was moving is correct – but I'll check that next time. For today I'm happy to just record the data as the Garmin saw it. 

In the end July was a record month for me on the road. I rode 741km and climbed over 9,000m which more than the height of Mount Everest (8,850m) – so I'm really happy and going to enjoy the next couple of days off the bike … making sure I get some good rest/sleep kids/family duties allowing. The total mileage for the year is now 2,621km and I'm 700km up on where I was at this date last year, which is very satisfying.

Thanks for reading.