My planned Three Peaks Classic Sportive on Sunday 15 June was scuppered when I was enrolled on a management course starting the same day… in Dorking. Making the best of a bad job, I took the opportunity to join my ex-colleagues at Slough in a London-to-Brighton ride.
We drove around to Walton-on-Thames to meet up. After the first major climb up to Newlands Corner we stopped for bacon sandwiches at the café before pushing on. We had support from Debbie at work, bringing along snacks and water for our rest stop in Horsham. Our final climb was up Devil’s Dyke, which really “strung out the peloton.”
We then had a rapid descent into Brighton for beers and medals. After a couple of hours on the beach, time to get the train back to Walton to recover the cars.
One of the advantages of being “down south” is the opportunity to catch up with friends we don’t see too often, so I call into see Robbie, help his kids with the maths homework (until we reach the level where I can’t help anymore), and then head out for a short ride before a pub lunch.
The course I’m booked on is right next to the start of Leith Hill. Before we get too much into the high-pressure environment of late nights working, I make a 5:30am trip out to climb Leith Hill. Beautiful roads, and deserted at this time of the morning. I feel very virtuous, but don’t make it out for the rest of the week.
Back at the right side of the country, time for the Cyclone, a 100km ride around Northumberland. We had Graham and Sarah as the fast team, Neal and Claire as the medium team, and Russell and I as the back-markers, as we’d agreed to ride with Catherine who was doing the short route on a mountain bike. This meant taking the opportunity of a café stop in Ponteland before the routes split. Out on the route was fun, and we caught Neal at the feedstop before Forestburn Gate.
We nearly catch Claire at Cambo, but agree to meet at Stamfordham. We do catch Graham and Sarah before Colwell, as Graham’s rear mech has detached and he’s in the process of converting to single speed. After ascertaining that we can’t help (other than providing my quick links), we agree to wait in Stamfordham.
Once we’re all regrouped and fed, it’s a quick ride back to the start, and a job well-done.
As we’d been chasing people all day, the ride was quicker than my usual, and my legs felt it that evening.
To give my legs a chance for a “recovery ride”, I decided to park up at Corbridge, and ride up to watch the racing. Starting gently, I reach Stamfordham in time to see the finish of the Women’s Race.
I then retire to the pub for a quick lunch, only to be surprised listening to the award ceremony that Olly from The Cycle Hub is presenting the prize to Katie Archibald. On his way back to the Saddle Skedaddle van, Olly and Abby recognize my bike and head over for a chat (we both have disc CX bikes…). The next ride they’re arranging (following on from L’Enfer du Nord (Est) and Giro di Castel Nuovo) is a Vuelta-themed ride the first weekend in September. Unfortunately I’ll be on my LEJOG, so won’t be able to punish myself on this.
Next on the agenda is a ride around to The Ryals, with beautiful views over Northumberland.
Once the race arrives, there’s a breakaway, with a big gap. Kristian House is in the lead group, and goes on to claim the win.
After a great afternoon out, time for a ride back to Corbridge, initially in the middle of a fast-moving group of cyclists who’ve been watching the race, then on my own, remembering this was supposed to be a recovery ride.