Today was the Turkey Teaser, organised by Somerset Cycling, which after several days of hard living, I was slightly dreading. I also wasn’t looking forward to the early start as we were leaving from Burnham-on-Sea sometime between 8:30 and 9:00am, and that’s about 45 minutes ride from here. In a virtually unprecedented move, I sorted my kit out last night and got a properly early (by my standards) night. This did at least mean that when the alarm dragged me kicking and screaming from the arms of Mr Sandman at 6:45am, I’d had a decent night’s sleep.
I nearly didn’t make it at all. I left the house as planned to meet GB down at Cross, only to discover that my front wheel wasn’t going around. Having one’s wheels go around is a fairly integral part of cycling, so this was not a good start. Normally hindered revolution is down to the brakes, but this time it looks like it’s the wheel bearings. I dragged a very reluctant hubby down to help me out and he efficiently (and remarkably uncomplainingly) swopped the winter tyre on to the summer wheel, put the summer wheel on, and I was on my way again, albeit about 20 minutes behind schedule. GB had come down to my place to wait for me, so we headed off the most direct route possible down the A38. And it was miserable. Not so much cold, but dark, windy, wet and just sort of relentless. Wet under tyre, wet over head, wet everywhere. If I’d know rain was forecast for today I’m fairly sure I’d have stayed in bed and visited the warm dry gym instead!
We made it to the café in time, and met up with a whole group of other riders. By now, though my torso remained fairly dry, the rest of me was not, and was in fact soaked through already. Not the greatest of starts, and it was good to get underway and have half a chance of getting warm again. We committed what is occasionally viewed as a cardinal sin by retracing our steps straight back up the A38 as far as the Weston exit, where we detoured to go across the flat and up past the Webbington. It was infinitely more pleasant riding now that it was a little drier, and we were in a group with the wind behind us. Now clearly this is our home turf, so we knew where we were going and we took our turn on the front, chatting away, and were happily making our way from A to B, when we were actually asked to slow down, with a gentle reminder that some people like to have a chat and catch up whilst riding and they couldn’t at our pace. Not sure that’s ever happened before! *grin*. Fine by me – I knew they’d all drop me and fly past the minute we hit the Webbington hill and I wasn’t wrong! I can hold my own on the flat, but gradients I still do more slowly than your average club rider.
We went past Axbridge, where I resisted the temptation to bail, through Cheddar and then round narrow roads of the Nyland loop in a fairly tight pack. Up ahead I spied a horse and dog and was about to yell the usual type of warning, when some of the pack slowed ahead, and the guy in front of GB slowed suddenly without warning. They clashed, and both ended up on the floor – GB on his LHS on the muddy (and therefore soft) verge, and the other rider on his RHS on the road. For a brief instant I came close to going over him and joining them both on the deck but luckily I managed to pull up and sideways in time and didn’t. The other rider completely went off on one – swearing at the pair of us for talking too much and not paying enough attention etc., etc. GB was very apologetic and conciliatory but he wasn’t having any of it, threw all his toys out of the pram, and stormed off home on his bike. Not once did he check GB was ok, though we had asked if he was. Too busy throwing his little tantrum, for which we found out later he is renowned. Interestingly when GB commented that he hadn’t heard any warning (riders usually yell “slowing” in such situations) he kind of ignored that. That would be because he hadn’t given one! Plus if you don’t like people talking on rides, then go stick to club rides. Not an after Christmas sociable coffee run ride. I don’t need to pay too much attention to those roads either, I cycle down them twice a week or so! However pointing any of these things out would only have inflamed the situation so I kept my mouth (uncharacteristically) shut. To have that kind of reaction he’d clearly been fuming inside about us talking, the ride not being to his taste etc., for quite some time. Ah well. More and most importantly GB was essentially ok. Muddier than he’d started out, but in one piece, with the bike intact too. However both the accident and especially that rider’s overreaction had kinda taken what little shine there was off the ride.
Having let the rest of the group go ahead while we tried to sort out the situation, we set off again, with a few behind us who had also stayed to help, to try and catch them. It’s always hard setting off again, and it’s worse when you’ve lost what warmth you had and you’re wet and cold. We headed off to Wedmore but then couldn’t decide which way the main group would have gone so waited for the few behind us so at least we’d be going the wrong way together! Yes, more waiting around. Sadly even once re-united and going in the same direction, we dropped them pretty quickly as we went over Mudgeley Hill, and as we headed towards Sweets in the driving rain (yes, it was back again) I had kind of decided that if they were open I’d be stopping there…. Sadly they weren’t and besides the main group was waiting at the turning just ahead. We headed off towards Street, via Godney, but as we cycled along I realised I wasn’t enjoying myself, and that there was really no point doing it if I wasn’t. I was getting colder, and wetter, and going further away was just increasing the distance I was going to have to cycle home against the wind and into the rain. B*gger that for a game of soldiers I thought. Sometimes it’s best to just quit while you’re ahead. Or at least not too far behind. GB agreed, and as the peloton turned right towards Glastonbury, we turned left, turned tail, and headed for home.
Part of the problem is that it was such a bitty ride. Various stopping to pick up extras and let stragglers catch up, as well as sorting racing incidents. Sections that were too slow so that I got cold just cruising along. Sections that were too fast so I had to push to keep up, though admittedly not very many of those. With wind, rain, mud… It was a ride made up of people from various different cycling groups, so it wasn’t a very cohesive group, and apart from talking to GB, it wasn’t turning out to be all that sociable either, which was possibly a result of the dismal weather. Riding home with GB was a massive improvement because mostly we work well together, take our turns, put the world to rights, and have a fairly similar speed, so I managed to warm up a little. However by this point he was clearly suffering, partially due to not having been on the bike for a while, but almost certainly also due to his accident – I think shock was cutting in. I dropped him several times on the way home, without wanting or meaning to. It’s hard at the front sometimes. If you look over your shoulder too often it looks like you’re asking for the rider behind to take a turn at the front, but if you don’t look, you discover you’ve dropped ’em!
After all that it was a relief just to get home. GB took the direct route up the bypass just to get back asap, as delayed shock cut in and he got the shakes. Nothing may have been actively painful as yet, but I bet he’s a little sore tomorrow. I have a little experience of such things ;).
Cycling time: 2:57:31 hrs
Distance: 49.23 miles.
AVS: 16.7 avs.
ODO: 11499 miles
On the upside, and it’s the only one I can think of at the moment since I still haven’t warmed up properly, I didn’t feel half as crap as I was expecting too! Well you’ve got to find a silver lining right? *grin*