Wake up, wake up, wake up, yeah so tired of waiting…

I’m sure our new memory foam mattress is fantastic.  However to prove that, I’d have to sleep on it.  As opposed to just lying on it wishing my insides thought sleeping was as good an idea as I do.  *sigh*.  So when, for the umpteenth time last night, they decided I should be awake again, and I discovered it was 6:51am, rather than bemoan the earliness of the hour, I was just relieved to discover a time that I could officially call morning, hit the coffee, and get on with it!  And yes, I should probably re-write that sentence, or punctuate it better, but hey, if I wish to be irritatingly long winded about getting to the point, that’s my prerogative, n’est-ce-pas?  Habits of a lifetime and all that ;).

I’d like to pretend that the reason I couldn’t sleep was because there was an ACG ride this morning and I was excited about finally getting out on my bike again.  OK, there’s probably an element of truth to that, but actually I was more nervous about it than anything else.  It’s probably around 10 days or so since I’ve been out.  At least.  In the meantime, I’ve been away a couple of times, I’ve had a cold, I’ve had the usual IBS stuff going on and more, and yes I’ve been to the gym, but not as much as I’d have liked.  I’m seriously considering giving up eating for Lent…if it was Lent…which it isn’t, and I’m even too late for Advent.  But then I’m a tad on the agnostic side, so either would be fairly arbitrary anyway.  Still at the moment it doesn’t really matter what I eat, my interior is not happy, so as a result I’ve not been eating a lot.  Or enough, to be honest.  But hey, white wine has calories in it, right? ;)

So it was with no little trepidation that I dressed myself in my outfit of many layers this morning, and headed to the Square to see who I could see this morning.  Did I mention I have new longs?  My super support team Andrew – mechanic, bike midwife, dresser – had had an word in the shell like of the Kalas kit peeps that he works with, who have produced a pair of female specific bib tights.  I will admit to having had reservations when I first tried them on – let’s just say there were some cutting in issues going on if you happen to be more well endowed than your average racing female cyclist.  However today, over sports bra and base layer, they were far more comfortable than expected.  Apart from the whole inconvenience issues that is…I will miss that Gore zip!  I’m also pleased to report that however else today’s ride might have gone, they performed well – probably better than me!  Warm, comfortable, the pad was great, and there was no restriction around the knees – result!  It just remains to be seen how well they cope with proper cold, and whether they survive the combo of my clearly peculiar shaped behind & saddle better than the last such things have!

Right, back to riding.  We were due a fair turn out this morning, and had one no show and three extra shows, which made us nine.  Namely our esteemed leader GB, myself, Martyn, Mike, Steve and his MaxiMe Isaac, Grant, Ian, and Neil.  The latter two were new to us, and Isaac looks like cycling is what he was born to do!  Ah well, I’m not proud, being outclassed by a fourteen year old is probably a very good salutary lesson.  Besides which I’ve been abusing my system for way more years than he’s been alive, so it’s probably my own fault ;).

Our route went something like this.  I say something like beause it isn’t quite what was originally planned, and as it turns out everyone’s route varied, but I shall explain that in the fullness of time.  I do hope you’re feeling patient ;).

First off was the Gorge.  Closed to traffic, allegedly.  Whilst being almost as successful at this as last year’s Etape Cymru, it did at least mean it was considerably quieter than it might otherwise have been, which also made dodging the missing bits of road, piles of gravel and debris, and still flowing water, that bit easier.  I was actually very pleased with how I did.  According to the the few remaining Strava sections of the Gorge that haven’t been reported as hazardous, it looks like I did my second best time up there, so I wasn’t imagining it either.  I mean really – hazardous?  Downhill, ok, yes, maybe I get it.  But up?  Seriously?  I can’t go fast enough up there for it to be dangerous!  I’m far more likely to be going so slowly that I lose balance, fail to unclip, and end up in an ignominious heap on the floor somewhere with little more damaged than my pride! *grin*.

OK, Gorge done which, all things considered, was an achievement in itself.  As long as I ignored the fact that I’d just had my ar*e kicked by nearly everyone else.  According to Red Kite Prayer I’m fast anyway, so I’ll take comfort in that ;).  Sadly we lost three on the way up, as being less familiar with the Gorge and with time pressures on them, they decided to make their own way to where they wanted to be.  And then there were six…  Anyone else thinking Agatha Christie here, or is it just me?  At least I wasn’t the last to the top, which gave me time to initiate Isaac into the ways of the camera, and the essentialness of being caught eating by it ;).  He’s young, he’ll learn…but the force is strong in this one.  And hey, at least he seems to get on with his father… ;).

There were some interestingly muddy roads, with additional crosswinds, to be negotiated before one of my least favourite descents to Blagdon.  However the road from there to East Harptree is way more fun.  Oh yes :D.  I even got to do some of what I enjoy.  Silly fast stuff, down and up again.  Swoopy.  Which probably isn’t a word, but I like it.  I needed to remind myself of why I love riding so much, of what I can be good at, to let loose a little….  Mind you, after the last burst of such idiocy, my body informed me that such behaviour was foolish and foolhardy and if I continued to be such an eejot, it was going to be bringing out those lovely little sparkly lights around the edges of my vision that tend to imply that continuing verticality is unlikely…  Ah well, fun while it lasted right?  Hints of mojo, as the dearly departed Howie would have said.  Yes – I still miss him from time to time :(.  So I reined it in, and promptly got dropped, what with all the ups and downs on that road, and the interjection of motorvehicles into the mix…*sigh*.

On reaching East Harptree , where the peloton were patiently waiting, GB provided us with two options.  The longer, hillier, muddier, and frankly gratuitous route, which they all took.  Or the shortcut.  That’ll be mine please.  Coffee was at the New Manor Farm café place in North Widcombe.  Which sounded like North Woodcote when GB said it, but having been told it was the place with stables, I did at least know roughly where I was aiming for.  Not that this helped when I asked a friendly cyclist and his wife if they knew where I was going.  Hard to find a place on a map that doesn’t exist!  So I took a magical mystery tour to get there, because I had to find the bit of road where I knew I was when I last went there, which meant heading towards Litton and then going from there.  With the aid of a quick check on the Crackberry GPS maps just to make sure I wasn’t going any more than usually nuts.  This added a few miles, and stopped me arriving hours before the posse, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.  To be honest I enjoyed a little bit of not having to keep up, and being me and my bike again too.  Head space :)  Having said that GB very nearly got a text saying “Got dropped, got lost, got bored, gone home…”.  Finally I arrived, parked the bike up, purchased coffee, parked me up…and five minutes later they all arrived.  Almost perfect timing :).  Actually perfect come to think of it, cos that way I didn’t have to queue for my coffee! ;).  Apparently the way to fuel a MaxiMe is as follows:

 

Even if I could eat it, I certainly couldn’t ride on it!  I don’t know if it counts as refuelling, or sabotage?  Still, looking at Isaac, the few minutes it spent on his lips is never going to equate to a lifetime on his hips…  Jealous, moi? ;)  Thanks to the minor colly wobbles earlier, even I decided food of some sort would probably be advisable.  Gluten free wasn’t an option in the range of fabulous cakes on offer, sadly tho’ unsurprisingly, but luckily I found an emergency “safe” bar in my saddle bag.  Think of me as a Boy Scout, though I’m usually more of a Girl Friday to be honest.  Anyway, I ate it with my coffee, that having been the point, right?.  Besides, I’d have been nagged into it if I hadn’t ;).

There were many plans for the way home.  And then there was mine.  Which seemed to appeal to some.  It had options too.  But essentially it meant going up East Harptree hill.  This having been my idea, I was supposed to not whinge about the hill on the way up.  I did my best…which may well have been lacking on several fronts ;).  Still, I got up it again, and it wasn’t entirely unpleasant.  At the top, having confused my Harptrees when considering my way home, we were opposite the Castle of Comfort and presented with two options.  Steve and Isaac headed for home, since even chocolate rocket fuel can only get you so far.  Age and treachery had triumphed over youth and skill ;) (and that’s one of the Christmas gifts coming my way – thanks Mum & Dad!).  So then there were four…

Now, I believe I mentioned we had two choices?  So it was left, and doglegs, and Priddy, and down Westbury Hill to avoid the wind as best as possible.  Or right, with a headwind along the Burrington Road, left before the Combe, Charterhouse, the Mendip Shavings road, and finally down Shipham Hill.  Which was the way I was going, on my own if necessary.  And perfectly happy I’d have been to do so either, I really didn’t mean to drag everyone else with me.  Sorry!  However GB decided I was looking far too spacey, and should not be left to ride on my own…aw bless :).  So four of us took it in turns to fight against the wind, which no doubt made it a lot easier, and fought our way to the castle beyond the Goblin City…  Come on, there is a Castle type building up there along the way, it makes sense if you’re me! ;)  Ill-advised though it may have been, I took my turn at the front as often as I could, and I think I acquitted myself fairly well.  The same cannot be said for my performance on the up and down road after Charterhouse.  There was a rabbit on the road…the testosterone had to chase it down…and I was dropped once again.  Mind you I think the rabbit appreciated the tow!  I pootled along in my own sweet, and resigned, tortoise fashion, eventually but happily coming across a waiting GB, ready to shepherd me home.  Well, that or to stop me holding them all up any longer ;) *grin*.

Just as well it was (nearly) all down hill from there then right? I love the descent from there to the Lilypool dip because it’s mostly straight and I can go properly fast, so I did :).  I enjoyed Shipham Hill, albeit cautiously, too.  Well it is wet and gravelly out there, and I did want to get home in one piece.  That just left one last fairly restrained run down the bypass, as I led out the train for GB’s sprint finish…and we were back in the Square :).

Cycling time: 2:25:24 hrs
Distance: 34.96 miles
Avs: 14.4 mph.
ODO: 15529.10 miles

As rides go, it went far better than I had any right to expect it would, and I really enjoyed the company when I was fast enough to keep up with it! ;)  Thanks guys – much appreciated.  And I do mean that.  Group hug? ;).

Besides, it’s December right?  Too early to be fretting about form for next year really, even if the lack of mileage is grating on me, and to be fair, I have a few more hurdles to get over before I get there anyway.  One thing at a time, little steps, etc.  Since I can’t bunny hop, I’ll not be jumping those hurdles on the bike, that’s fo’ sho ;).

Just because it’s Christmas, and this afternoon was spent drinking fizz (hic!) and putting the tree together…here’s our daft, but clearly under-impressed at being captured being so, cat, hiding under the tinsel :).