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My first ever club ride with Bayeux Landscapes CC

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Thanks to the power of Twitter, I’ve met some excellent cycling people in the last year including amongst others – Richard Mitchelson (@rich_mitch) and Martin Green (@greeny3103). I physically met Rich and Martin at the Puncheur Sportive back in March (https://girodilento.com/a-punching-by-the-puncheur). After the event, Martin and I got talking about the Diablo I was riding and a plan was loosely formed to get Martin a go on one sometime soonish.

Well that was March and it’s now July but Sunday was finally the day when I showed up at Martin’s house with a spare Diablo in the boot of the car (as you do) and my reward was to join Martin, Rich and the guys on the Bayeux Sunday Club run (http://www.bayeuxcyclingteam.com/).

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To be honest, I’ve never been a club kind of guy as I don’t tend to have a life that fits around to committing to being at various places at regular times and so I’ve happily spent hundreds of hours cycling on my own over the last few years rather than worrying about letting down a team when I can’t show up for whatever reason. More recently I’ve been really enjoying riding regularly with my good friend Warren (@ColnagoConBrio) but every now and then the topic of riding with a club comes up, particularly as a way to help to learn to train and ride better, so I was really keen … and a bit nervous about joining a club ride yesterday and trying it out.

Some of the things that most appeal to me about the idea of a cycling club are:
– The camaraderie/banter
– Learning to be a better rider from others with more experience
– Learning how to ride in a group/cycling etiquette
– Learning about new areas and routes to ride
– More accurately seeing how your form is (generally worse than I’d like)
– Actually riding like you’re in a team and looking out for each other on rides (giving your mates a back wheel to hang onto when they need it and vice versa)

All of this helped me feel keen to get out and try a club ride. The flip side was worrying about would I be able to keep up? This was the biggest reason I’d not done it before – the fear of the embarrassment of being dropped all the time. 

Martin had said to me in passing that they like to keep the speed under a 20 mile an hour average over about 60 miles.As I’ve never ridden that fast on a ride, I got a little nervous. I then asked how hilly the loop is and was told – “not very”. Living where I do – a not very hilly ride over 60 miles would probably have 600-1000m of climbing – so I felt none the wiser.

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I chose my most aero bike but opted out of my Cosmic wheels as I thought I’d struggle with them on the inevitable climbs and I didn’t want to over do it either. Also if I did get unceremoniously dropped, I really would have proved myself as an “all the gear but no idea” hopeless case. This would have been a bad outcome.

As it turned out – I needn’t have worried. Although I’m not a peak fitness, I coped with the pace (generally speaking) and the Bayeux guys were all incredibly friendly, welcoming and encouraging. We started off reasonably gently and gradually built up speed on roads that were mostly excellent both in scenery terms and in condition/quality – not to mention relatively traffic free. It was also as promised, not enormously hilly.

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The last hill before the cafe stop at the Badgers Cafe in Alfriston (http://www.badgersteahouse.com/home/) was quite deceptive. Martin had warned me that it was the only real climb on the way as we rode towards it there is quite a decent size hill in front of you and I thought – ok, if we’re going up there I will need to pace myself (with visions of a Ditchling Beacon style climb). Most of the group attacked and were gone with only Martin and I riding at a slower pace (sensibly pacing ourselves I thought). However before we’d got too far along we turned off back down the hill to the fabulous Badgers Tea House, where we sat in the garden in the sunshine drinking coffee and eating tea cakes. Lovely.

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On the way back we rode a bit faster and I regularly looked down at the speed on my Garmin and it seemed to be telling me numbers in the high 30’s (kmh) more often than not – even on some slight inclines, which was very nice. At the fastest point I think we touched on about 50kmh but that wasn’t for long and when you’re at the back of the group – I could manage that quite well thanks to the shelter of the guys in front.

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Riding on my own I’d never managed to crack a 30kmh average speed on a ride but with the Bayeux guys I broke through that and managed a 31kmh average – which was a fantastic outcome when I checked in on Strava and it gave me the good news:

So I’d had a great ride, enjoyed excellent company, roads and riding – bagged my best ever average speed and didn’t feel too bad at all physically when I got off the bike. The Bayeux guys are an excellent advertisement for a cycling club. If you’re in the general area of Burgess Hill – do get in touch and go out for a ride – I’ll certainly be back and you won’t regret it if you do. I have even volunteered to suggest a couple of 100km rides up where I live (I’ve already sent the first one through).

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I need to work on my group riding hand signals as I learned a few news ones on the day and I need to do a bit more hill work as I’m still a bit off my best there. As always, I was also flattered by a good bike and I suspect for the guys on the ride it was a fairly leisurely Sunday club run in the sunshine. I have a feeling they could get round the loop quite a bit faster and I’d love to try to keep up with them when they have a go sometime. Perhaps I might be able to top a 20mph average speed … or perhaps even a bit more?

In case any of you were wondering what Martin thought of the Diablo he had for the day – you can read his thoughts on his own excellent blog here: http://cyclingapprentice.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/pryde-and-joy/

Thanks for reading