Latest bike rides…

It’s been a few days since I’ve written an update and in that time I’ve got two rides in. One last weekend in 25 degree plus heat (hot for England) and one today in 17 degree grey skies and occasional showers. 

Saturday’s ride started in Chiddingstone as usual where I met Warren and Malcolm. It was over 20 degrees when I left the house at 9.20am with the sun shining. I had a couple of bottles of High5 4:1 Energy drink that I thought might be very important as the day progressed. I was running a bit late so had to push on a bit to make the meeting point on time at 10am and got there a couple of minutes late to find Warren with his Colnago EPS, Malcolm on his De Rosa Idol both chatting to a guy in a Colnago C50 – so it was already an Italian fest. Within in minutes another guy stopped on a De Rosa and another Colnago sped by. The second De Rosa guy stopped with a few buddies, so I chatted to the guy with the Boardman Pro Carbon, which was probably more at my end of the bike spectrum. After learning the the De Rosa slogan is “The bike of the heart” we headed off in our usual direction through to Cowden not long after that we turned towards Dormansland as the heat was rising. I was already struggling with the climbs for some reason but was fine on the flat and as always, enjoyed going fast on the descents. So I battled on, hoping that my climbing legs would show up at some point on the ride. At Dormansland we headed towards and through Lingfield and into Surrey, north from there to eventually end up on the A25, where we made pretty quick progress with Warren on the front and Malcolm and I on his wheel. Once we got to Westerham, we stopped looking for a cafe stop but it was hot and none of us wanted to sit in the sun.

We got back on the road and carried on down the A25 to Brasted to our “usual” cafe, where we got a table outside in the shade – perfect. Already at the cafe was a guy with a Storck, so we asked him to come and talk to us about it. Interesting he was also on a pair of handbuilt Harry Rowland Ambrosio Excellight wheels, which Malcolm and I had been talking about on the ride. Malcolm’s looking for a nice new “sunday best” set of handbuilts and I had been recommending Harry Rowland as being a guy to talk to – so it was quite a coincidence to see almost the exact wheels outside the cafe (apart from the hubs which were Tune on the Storck and I had been recommending PMP, which I understand Harry likes to build with).

After a well earned Panini and coffee break, we headed up Chart Lane and onto Toys Hill and fortunately my climbing legs had showed up and I could comfortably keep pace with the others up the hill. For me the descent down the other side was the highlight of the ride as I got some major speed up on the way down and put a few hundred metres into the others (which is the only way I’ll manage that). Then it was through Four Elms, Bough Beech and back to the starting point of Chiddingstone. Malcolm and I left Warren there and I rode a few kms back towards home until I left Malcolm at his car and battled back to Tunbridge Wells. The last 5 km was very hot indeed as the temperature seemed to keep rising as I rode through Langton Green back into Tunbridge Wells. I started to seriously wilt and had just run out of drink.

It was 29 degrees at my house when I arrived and the kids were in the paddling pool in the back garden. I had a couple of large glasses of water and sat down in the paddling pool with the kids in my cycling kit. Obviously they didn’t bat an eye. Thanks to the heat, it felt like a long ride but it was only 83km with just over a 1,000m of climbing. It had been great nonetheless and probably more flatter, faster riding than normal. 
Today was a bit different, the weather has been patchy since the weekend and I’ve had a few work related things on my mind, but I wanted to get at least one weekday ride in. It was grey and showery and about 15-16 degrees, so not ideal riding since most of my recent rides had been in bright sunshine but after I watched the latest Cervelo film and saw those guys riding in much cooler conditions, I forced myself out. To make it interesting I rode out of town a different way than normal but did Groombridge, Eridge and Rotherfield as usual. From there though I took a different way towards Wadhurst – heading through Rushers Cross, Tidebrook and past the edge of Scrag Oak – all new roads to me. So I ended up at the other end of Wadhurst than normal and took a right towards Vicarage Green which saw my second near accident of the ride (after also getting lost a couple of times). The first near miss was misreading a road, zipping down a hill at about 45kmh only to come round a corner to find the road ending with a closed gate and had a car coming back at me. As I skidded sideways towards the car on the wet road I was trying to decide if I should unclip to ease my fall across the bonnet of the car – but fortunately I managed to both scrub off enough speed and straighten my line to miss the car. The second near miss (accident wise) was again a fast descent on a road I didn’t know and I completely misread a 90 degree turn and was travelling way too fast – another big skid…. but fortunately there was enough run off for me to avoid the accident again. Fortunately no other incidents but some very steep short hills. It was only a 50km ride so I was trying to push the pace a bit to make it more of a workout. I had my “heavy” wheels on as well – my Mavic Open Pros on Hope Pro 3 hubs. Last week I had the rim tape fail on the rear wheel, which I replaced with Velox tape (very good it is too) but I decided not to bother with the front. Strangely within a couple of minutes of arriving home as I went to wheel my bike back to the shed I got a puncture on the front wheel thanks to the rim tape – so that’s my next job this evening – fitting Velox tape to the front wheel. Next bike ride on Sunday I hope.