Another Friday, another Somerset Cycling ride. Whether or not this becomes a regular thing remains to be seen but two weeks in a row is a good start, right? Since we were meeting by the church in Mark at 11:00am, I set off around 10:30am and went the quickest and fastest and most direct route there – straight down the A38, and across into Mark along the Kingsway. I’m not sure you can get a route any flatter around here! It was quite mild, I was pushing it, and the wind was temporarily fairly absent, and by the time I got there and discovered the BW already waiting, I was convinced I was wearing one layer too many. Since removing a layer wasn’t really an option since I hadn’t anywhere to stash one, and getting to the base layer which I really wanted to take off would have involved a degree of public indecency, I settled for taking the Buff off my head to aid ventilation instead. Probably a good call as it turned out. In the meantime we loitered with intent for a while, and discussed the necessity for remaining upright this time around, before we were joined like an Ark by the animals, by John, Sarah & Rob, and then Michael.
There are several nice things about cycling with a new group, probably the main one of which is not having to think about or take responsibility for the route! Michael had plans for going to Langport, so that’s what we did. Our route went something like this – though I’ve had to guess the odd bit as we got lost on the way back and ended up in hell on earth (aka Bridgwater) – more of which later.
The route out was pretty good. Essentially flat, apart from getting up to Edington and Shapwick. It could have included High Ham Hill, an alliterative favourite, but luckily it didn’t :). Michael did a good job of making sure I knew when to be where, which is really handy when you’re getting used to a new group, and I’m always happier if I feel like I’ve taken my turn on the front rather than just wheel sucking all the way round. I like to pull my weight! It was fairly fast. Even faster every time the BW and John were on the front as they half-wheeled each other constantly. Shall I make a comment about male egos or would you like to make your own? 😉 When it came to hills there was also clearly an invisible polka dot jersey up for grabs. John attempted to put the BW in his place, occasionally successfully, and on one occasion he was so busy worrying about doing that that Sarah kicked his a*se and got Queen of the Mountains all for herself *grin*. This is most decidedly not my thing and since I did hills on Wednesday and intend to do hills with the ACG on Sunday, I didn’t see the need to wear myself out keeping up :). That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!
We had our coffee stop at the Potting Shed, up at Old Kelways. This was our second choice as we’d meant to go to a café in the centre of Langport but the snooty lady in the office adjacent to the space where we were going to park our bikes informed us, with ill grace, that it was private property and we should go elsewhere. As it turns out this was a good thing, as the Potting Shed had very friendly staff, equally friendly clientele, and had plenty of space both for bike parking and inside for us. To gild the lily, they’d had a minor baking catastrophe and their recently baked fruit cake hadn’t gone quite according to plan so they were giving it away free to cyclists *grin*. Now that can’t be bad, can it? Well yes, actually it can, if you’re me and currently unable to eat cake, free or otherwise *sigh*. But hey, the mug of filter coffee to wash the next dose of painkillers down was good, as was the banter, so that’s definitely one to add to the list. I reckon free cake earns a certain degree of customer loyalty don’t you? 🙂
The route back, as mentioned before, went a little pear shaped, probably because there was too much racing and/or talking going on, so we missed a turn. We ended up in Bridgwater. Now I have attended some very nice civic events there. And I’m sure it has redeeming features. But they’re notable in their absence if you have to ride a bike through there. The always busy traffic quite clearly hates you. Random people shout at you, both from cars and from the pavement. It is just horrible. I will own up to having earned the car horn sounded in my direction at the junction where we turned right, but that’s because I thought there was a right filter and there wasn’t. And if I’d tried stopping once I realised that, at speed, I would have failed to unclip and ended up in an ignominious heap on the floor. By the way, that’s a good word isn’t it? ;). So apologies to the motorist concerned – mea culpa. If I hadn’t been so spooked by the behaviour of the rest of your ilk I might have done better at reading the road though…
The wonders of traffic and so on started to spread the group out and there was a degree of stop starting to allow people to catch up. Somewhere around the last climb into Woolavington I realised I was flagging a bit. Luckily I was also ahead a bit – thanks to catching Michael after the lovely descent – and I had time to take in a packet of Lucozade jelly beans which seemed to do the trick. But having been lost, and with time ticking on, I got to the point where I really needed to get going, so from around Watchfield I just had to take myself off and head for home. Apologies to you all for being antisocial, and it’s nothing personal, but I needed to get home before the jelly beans and painkillers ran out! I pretty much time-trialled myself all the way, as fast as I could, along the Mark Causeway, straight back along the Kingsway with my head down into the now quite irritating headwind, and then up the slightly more wind assisted A38. I properly kicked ar*e!
Cycling time: 3:23:20 hrs
Distance: 59.92 miles.
AVS: 17.6 mph.
ODO: 12156 miles
If I were to say that by the coffee stop I’d averaged 17.1mph…? Yep – kicked ar*e on the way home. *grin*. It was good to feel like I could hold my own, to ride a different route, and to meet some more new cyclists. Well new to me, not new to cycling, quite clearly! 🙂 I’m sure I’ll pay for my uncustomary effort in the next day or so, but it was kinda fun :).
PS: If you’re a girl, and a Rapha addict, you might like to know that they’ve got a 50% off Festa Della Donna this weekend. I think, as my birthday is coming up, there are a couple of treats in there with my name on. 🙂