Saturday 22 November 2014

Commutes/The not-so-great figure of eight DNF

Quite an active week on the whole. Plenty of riding and plenty of adventure. Plenty of menace too. Managed to squeeze in 3 work and back commutes which was nice. The first 2 rides were relatively uneventful, however, the third was certainly eventful.

On my third commute, after work, I met up with a couple of mates - Jamie and Andy. We met up at the 'Canalside' cafe and bar, on the tow path next to the Gas Basin. This was such a lovely place for a meet and greet. This was a celebratory meet of sorts - I was returning their brevet card and certificates for completing the York Arrow event we completed last season. It was lovely to reminisce and talk bike nonsense for a spell. Was also nice to down a couple of pints of 'Black Rat', some quite potent scrumpy cider. After our meet, we all set off together - all retiring to our respective homes. It was cold, dark and wet. Andy was first to break off at the Five Ways junction. Later, Andy remarked how drivers just seem to speed up in bad weather conditions. It is well known, that most folk in Birmingham (and beyond) want to kill cyclists.
Please don't kill cyclists
Jamie and I continued along together following the tow path to as far as Bournville. I think this was the worst weather I have ever commuted in. Having drank so much I kept needing to stop for an emergency wee. Once Jamie had departed, I was still less than half way home. After what seemed an age, I finally reached home. I found I could cycle fine, but once off my bike it was difficult to walk.
Timmy no-mates
During the weekend, I decided I would ride my recently created DIY PERM - 'The not-so-great figure of eight' 200k audax. Things were bad from the start - none of my mates (for various reasons) were able to cycle with me, Lunar had kept me awake since 4 a.m. and my wife would rather I didn't venture out that day. Maybe I should have stayed at home...

At just after 7 a.m. I set off. The first leg to Henley-in-Arden was fine. Fine for me at least, I saw a couple of cars had crashed just before reaching Henley and car bits were sprayed all over the road. In fact, I saw these cars twice because once reaching Henley, my route reversed and followed some same road back onto section 2.

Section 2 was a longer stretch to Whitlenge. Things started ok and I cycled some paths that feature on my work and back commutes and cycled round some of Arrow Vale Lake. Nice. My route continued and took me past 'the Hardy's'. For the most part, nice roads were followed but cycle paths and mucky lanes featured too. At around the 30k mark, I was faced with the option of passing through a ford.
I didn't pass through the ford but shortly after got soaked anyhow because the heavens opened big time. I got soaked through to the skin. Wet, cold feet! Was real pleased once I reached Whitlenge and particularly the Whitlenge tea rooms! This was such a welcome stop because not only did I eat a full English breakfast that was scrumptious (and washed down with a pot of tea) but I also stripped off and dried my gear on a oil heater. I stayed here for about an hour, refusing to leave before the rain had stopped.
The road travelled (spot the mis-hap)
The next leg was menace. The weather was ok and the roads were fine. However, all was not well. I cycled past a bunch of 'terrors' on horses, with dogs, who were taking part in some hunt. Worse still, my route went wonky as I got confused where my route crossed paths with itself and took the wrong turn. I discovered my mistake but added extra k's and was generally annoyed with myself. I often do this silly sort of stuff. Eventually, I reached Bidford the next control but k wise, I should have been in Winchcombe. Grr.
Would the route get hillier? Maybe we'll never know!
Roads I had never cycled before started leading me towards (I believe) Winchcombe. With less than 10k to go, my rear wheel felt wobbly. I dismounted to take a look and BANG! The tyre blew right in my face. Good job I was wearing glasses! Damn! Game over. The tyre had blown, so much so, a massive hole was ripped in the side of it. So much for Specialized armadillo tyres. Pah!
I often carry a spare tyre but as Murphy's Law would have it - I didn't on this occasion. Was no use replacing the tube when it would be so exposed. I could fit a finger inside where the hole was blown. Thankfully my cousin Aid was able to pick me up and drive me home but he took an age to arrive. Was only one thing to do while I waited patiently...
... and have a drink in the nearest pub! So annoyed that game over was called after I had cycled 109k. The not-so-great figure of eight really turned out to be not-so-great. Unfinished business! Sadly, I think that destroys my plans of an RRTY award this season. On a brighter note, I cycled 284k this week which was nice. Oh, and Jamie reminded me that I completed a perm event from the Saracen Club and got a mention for being the first non-member to do so. It ain't all bad!

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