After receiving a text message from our millage guru Mat Swan on Saturday night who had been hit with man flu, that’s the same as women flu but much much worse! It must be bad for Mat to blow out of a ride. We were down to 4 Redhill riders in 100k, me, Jason, Jules and Rob and 2 in the 50k, Mogi and Phil Clarke.
I woke early at 6am, an hour earlier than I would normally get up, funny how you can get up easily for a ride but find it so hard to get up an hour later for work!! With heavy rain the night before and checking all weather forecasts tyre choice was my main thought, will I go with Racing Ralphs, Knobby Nicks or a bit of both? Picking up Jason and loading his carbon 29er with slick summer tyres onto the bike rack, I decided to go all out with the racing Ralphs, I need all the help I can get to keep on his back wheel!
After the sat nav sending us down a dead end we pulled into the car parking area at Chiltern Sports & Social Club and were greeted by Jules sporting a cyclocross with skinny Rocket Ron tyres putting my mind at rest about my tyre choice.
There were no queues to sign in but we had to queue for the hole punch for our number so you could attach them to your bike! Note to self, bring a hole punch next year! Rob, Phil and Moji were already happy queuing so gave us a chance to wish everyone good luck and have a little chat.
The sun was shining with a cooling breeze but the rain was forecast for 3 o’clock so our plan of attack was to complete the ride in less than 6 hours getting back before we got wet. We set off with a good pace, Rob and Jules in front and Jason and I riding together both taking it in turns to lead, Jason on the up hills and me on the down hills!
The trails were fairly dry with a mixture of single track, bridle ways and road so was happy I stuck with the Racing Ralphs. We hit the 15 mile cross roads where the 50k riders turn off in 1hour 30mins, so was on track to get back before the rain. From here the field of riders started to spread out so had to keep a close eye on the SMALL markers leading the way, especially when you’re riding with the partially blind! It was hard to ride any down hills at speed just in case you missed a marker. Which happened just before our 1st food station, we missed a marker followed by several other riders and unaware cycled for several miles without knowing until we bumped into other Bucks riders travelling in the other direction! At this point we had two options, we could turn back and look for the point of our mistake which would add approx. 5 miles onto our ride or continue from where we were which would reduce our ride by approx. 5 miles! No guesses to which option we all went for! Unfortunately this meant we missed the 1st feed station so had to wait to the 40 mile feed to refuel.
Our redirection also meant we were out with the front runners so our pace picked up riding along with some fast riders.
The last 20 miles seemed to fly by with a bit more road to ease the muscles. We road into Chiltern Sports Club in approx. 5 hours 30 minutes ahead of any rain to find Jules already in his car having had to shorten his root due to multiple punctures.. What do you expect on a cyclocross!
10 minutes later whilst enjoying a well-deserved pint in the club house and just as the rain started in walks Rob shockingly surprised to see me and Jason propping up the bar. Whilst cutting a corning we also managed to sneak in front of Rob!. Not one for taking advantage for a wind up situation! I explained to Rob he must have missed us shooting past him on one the downhill sections!! A couple of poker faces and a few minutes of silence were soon followed by a roar of laughter!
A very enjoyable day and an event that most regular Saturday club riders would find achievable as long as you have good eyesight!
Thanks Jason for keeping me company.
See you next year