The 55 mile ride was hard but I was still on my feet at the end of it, still went out with the boys and their bikes that afternoon, although my boyfriend and I swapped roles so he was riding with the boys while I was on foot providing support to those less confident. I was pleased that I was recovering so well, so much so that the following evening I once again suggested going out for a ride rather than our swimming session (do you get the impression I’m not actually that keen on swimming?) and once again my boyfriend agreed.
My seldom used bike computer had worked fairly well the previous day so we got it out, updated it as requested and uploaded a route onto it, up through Wimbledon and back through Richmond Park but something wasn’t right. It seemed fine with the idea of telling us which way to go and recording where we’d been but it wasn’t showing any roads and, when we were forced to deviate from the route by a locked park gate, could not recalculate to get us back on the route.
The update had wiped the maps from the unit. Not good.
Fortunately my boyfriend knew the area fairly well so we managed to get a decent ride in, around Wimbledon Common, past the All England Lawn Tennis Club with all its police and traffic cones and up to Richmond Park. At this point we reasoned that if the park earlier had been closed because of the time of day, the chances of us getting through Richmond Park were minimal so we took the easy option of the A3 back down.
A small accident (I’ll write about it in a separate post) curtailed our ride, sending us back to the house via the most direct route for a total of 13 miles.
At this point we were working towards the Cycle Surgery Surrey Sportive – a fairly gentle 70 mile loop heading down southwest from Guildford. The day before, however, I encouraged my boyfriend to show the hand he injured in the accident the previous Monday to a GP friend who was hosting the barbecue we were attending. The news was good; it was healing fairly well, but riding with it would soon put a stop to that. He did the sensible thing and pulled out of the Sportive.
I stayed in and I’m not sure I could have done it alone, but my boyfriend was there driving me to the start; getting coffee for me while I signed in; attaching my number while I made a comfort stop and kissing me goodbye at the start line.
It turned out that the majority of the riding wouldn’t be done alone either; having bumped into a chap from my swimming lane in our tri club shortly before the start, we met up again at the first feed station and rode the rest of the way together. I had been resigned to riding the whole distance alone (I am naturally a solitary type of person) but I suspect I was a lot faster trying to be less of a burden to a friend than I would have been just slogging my way around on my own. I do worry that I hold people back though as they wait for me, particularly when he commented near the end that a couple of riders who overtook us had started in the same wave as him.
The ride itself was not as difficult as I had anticipated. I had loaded my pockets with so many gels; energy bars; even a banana (which I “drank” at the second feed stations, such was its condition by then) but with the excellent feed stations offering cake; flapjack; bananas; gels; water; even energy drink at the second I found that, other than the banana which I ate mainly to get it out of my back pocket, I only used 2 gels. I also didn’t drink all that much but I suspect I should have done so more.
Some time after the second feed station my bike began to feel odd. I called to my friend and we pulled over at the side of the road. I had a flat. Not a problem; I am not some stereotypical girly girl who bursts into tears and looks around for a Prince to save her. Unfortunately, the wedge bag I borrowed from a work colleague (“there’s everything in here you could possibly need”) didn’t have any tyre levers in it (when I mentioned this I was told I didn’t need them and he would show me how). Fortunately, my friend did have a couple so I borrowed his (to be specific, he took the tyre off my bike while I faffed around with a CO2 cannister), changed the inner tube; checked inside the tyre for possible causes and reassembled the whole thing. It wasn’t exactly a Tour de France wheel change but I thought we did OK. I could probably have done it faster but with my relative unfamiliarity with the process I figured once, carefully, was still quicker than twice, hurriedly.
My overall time for the full 70 miles, including feed stops and the puncture, was 5 hrs 36 mins.