Stone cold sober

Today’s entry is brought to you by the number 7 and the letter G.  There were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (8, 9, 10, 11 12..) members of the ACG who came out to play today.  In the interests of accuracy, there were 5 paid up members and 2 guests.  2 of “them” – aka mtb’ers.  OK, there’s no them and us really, but I thought I’d add a little unnecessary dramatic tension to the mix.  As it turns out, both the guests were called Chris.  Not Dave (which is our usual default name).  Which is good for remembering names, but bad for differentiating in blogland.  However since the first Chris, who has been out with us before, has a carefully calculated calorific and carbohydrate based reason for eating a fig roll every 15/20 minutes he shall henceforth be known as Figgy.  Now if I ate fig rolls like that, I would bear more than a passing resemblance to a figgy pudding…however he’s a whippet.  Sometimes there’s just no justice in this world…

GB has apparently not managed to get a lot of riding in this week, and was in coiled spring mode today.  Plus he was on the shiny bike whilst the other one has gone in for repairs.  Yes, I know it’s not about the bike, but…surely with a steed like that you feel the urge to live up to what it can do? As well as co-ordinating all your clothes to it of course 😉

Anyway, his proposed route was gratuitously hilly and thus, if you’re me, a tad scarey, but as I’m making myself do hills these days I didn’t complain, though I was worried about it, due to the pain factor this week.   However it would appear that I’ve done such a good job of complaining about hills in the past that these days everyone thinks I hate them.  (That’ll larn me).  And offers me opportunities to avoid them while the greater group tackle them.  I know, I know, it’s perverse of me, but I find that irritating.  But maybe that’s good as it makes me more determined to prove them wrong and to get up the hills by hook or by crook?  I like to think I’m getting better at them.  Of course it would help if all those around me weren’t getting better at the same time…but there you go.  I’m supposed to be trying not to compare myself with everyone else, do the whole PMA thing, but sometimes it’s hard…  It’s not that I hate hills.  It’s that I hate not being as good as everyone else up them.  There, does that make sense?

Back to the ride.  What does the “G” stand for?  It stands for Group.  And when you’re in the Group it is Great, and Good and sometimes Glorious.  But then you hit a Gradient, and it is Ghastly and Grinding and the Gap Grows and you are Grumpy.

G also stands for Gorge, which was the first climb of the day.  I was quite pleased with how it went as I didn’t have to get out of the saddle at the steep bit, which feels like progress.   I even went back down for a bit to pick up MD who’d had mechanical issues.  The peloton waited at the top, which was nice, but I was soon left behind again.  Rather than Grumble too much (though the temptation was Great) I tried to focus on having a Thoughtful ride instead.  I paid attention to how I was pedalling.  I tried to keep my arms a bit looser, less rigid, to absorb more of the road noise.  I also made a point of changing position from time to time.  All of this is aimed to help the shoulder and knee issues, though I do intend to have a set-up check with Andrew at some point as well, and I think it helped.

We went through Priddy, and down the Wells Road, which was kinda fun.  GB did try and challenge me to going down without braking, but let’s face it, that wasn’t going to happen now was it?  Still, I did my best, and enjoyed the descent as best I could.  I even had time to have a chat with another cyclist from Bristol on the way down as he overtook me.  Yes – everyone is faster than me *grin*.

Once in Wells we went out up a Horrington.  I say we, I mean me, as the group had vanished in a cloud of smoke, and MD had dropped off behind me somewhere.  However once on my own, and with no reference point to compare myself unfavourably with, I settled into a rhythm of my own and pootled my way fairly happily up to where they were waiting, so on balance this was a good thing.  Once MD had joined us it turns out that we were practically at our destination – Hartley’s Café, a new one to us.  Which turned out to be unexpectedly lovely 🙂  Very friendly, with very good coffee, served in double americano form – my drug of choice!  I can definitely see us ending up back there again.  It looks like the food was good too, though there’s no way you’re going to catch me eating waffles, bacon, banana and maple syrup, but each to their own…or Figgy’s own in this case.  Again – no justice…

We had the usual “which way are we going home” debate, and I still refused to bail on the hills.  They’re good for me, right?  And why should I always be the killjoy?  It would appear that I’ve had such low expectations of my ability for so long, which I have clearly broadcast, that everyone else now agrees with me.  Hm.  (Again – that’ll larn me).  So after some interesting back road meanderings to get down to Chewton Mendip and then along past Litton, we went up a Harptree.  Which is a long long long climb.  Again, head down, every girl for herself, and see you at the top.  Once again the group reunited, this time outside the Castle of Comfort, where I did indeed take comfort – in the knowledge that they hadn’t had to wait too long for me.  MD rejoined us for the final time, and we headed for home.

For the last stretch I managed to pretty much keep up with the pack.  Which was Gratifying.  And when flying along the top at speed, also Grand.  We went along towards Burrington and then round via Charterhouse, where the downhill after Tynings Farm was as lovely as ever, and down from Shipham, where it was even better.  From there, buoyed up by endorphins, it was easy to put my foot down and push down the bypass to home.  Ok, I was the first back in the Square, but let’s face it, that just means nobody else was racing :D.

Cycling time: 2:43:53
Distance: 40.15 miles
Avs: 14.6 mph
ODO: 7439 miles

So, an interesting ride, with Grouchy overtones.  I did pretty well, and I’m not knackered now, even after a bath, about which I am Glad.   And we’re going to have Gammon for tea.  Just as well, as I appear to have forgotten to have lunch…