21/06/2015 - One week after the Blenheim Triathlon and I'm booked to do a 50 mile ride at the Nottingham Cycle Live event. I'd persuaded a good friend, James, to come along and keep me company. He's only recently got into cycling so I guessed 50 miles might be a bit daunting for him but knowing James I was also confident that he could do it without issue. So I softened him up a bit by letting him know that I'd be round his house to pick him up at 06:00 am. I was half expecting "what! you're bloody joking!" but disappointingly he was absolutely fine about the early start.
As it turned out due to a rather busy weekend involving a lot of driving and a works party it was me that would struggle with the early start. Anyway four thirty in the morning my alarm went off and like a insomniac dogger I sneaked out of the bedroom trying not to wake up my wife, slip into my Lycra and head out to the car. The bike already stowed away in the car and, as I'd had it serviced that week, I was hoping it would do me better than it did at Blenheim. I'd dropped it off, slightly embarrassed to be handing in my little old Carrera in sight of all the lovely carbon beauties in the shop. My mate asked what was involved in the "basic" service I was having done, "Urinate on it I suspect" was my initial response, followed by "I paid for something to be done, what that something was, whether it needed doing or was actually done I don't know. Same thing I've had to do for everything I've ever got serviced in my entire life". So in other words I was just having to trust it was going to be sorted. Service completed I picked it up and tried the "that's not my bike!" line. They asked what my one was and I panicked, could not remember an expensive name, so blurted "one of those expensive carbon ones". They reckon I might have got away with it had I been better prepared.
Where were we, oh yes, driving to pick up my mate. Well that went fine, but when I got there it was clear he was a tad under the weather. He'd not been feeling well and had been debating whether or not to even do the ride as recently as the night before. Still he was keen to go but worried that he might have to bail out or even not start but was determined at the very least to be there. So we put his bike into the car next to mine a set of for Nottingham.
When got there without issue, got parked, hit the toilets, twice, went back to the car, got out the bikes and got ourselves ready for the 09:00 am start.
|Preparing for the start.|
|You should play your favorite love song at this point.|
|Me and James|
|In front of us.|
The countdown began, 5 4 3 2 1 and we're off, then we're not, then we are again, then we're not, the we are. Finally we're actually riding. The weather was just about perfect. The sun was out but it was reasonably cool and apart from a bit of wind towards the end it remained glorious. After a short ride though Nottingham cities roads we were into the countryside. I was pleasantly surprise not only by just how pretty it was but how light the traffic was. There was still the odd idiot that seemed to feel they owned the road and would decide to fly past the cyclists horn blaring to scream their outrage for being slightly inconvenienced on their not doubt deeply important journey. They were normally met with a seemingly choreographed raising of the middle fingers of the numerous cyclist. In general though the traffic was light and well behaved.
Worried about James and conscious of how ill he'd been feeling I didn't want to push it out on the bike.We had had a talk about it and agreed to just take it easy and enjoy the ride, that I was very happy to just cruise along and that we would ride at whatever pace James felt comfortable with. Chatting away, me nagging his ears off as is my want, we progressed happily along. Just before 25 miles James asked if I minded if we stopped for a break so that he could stretch his legs. So at the 25 mile marker we pulled over. I felt we'd been plodding along at about 12 or 13 miles an hour, but when James checked our average pace was a surprising 16 mph. After about 5 minutes, stretched and refueled we set off again. Over the next 25 miles, mile by mile, James started to tire. I'd check he was OK, by this time I think I was the only one talking to any extent, he'd say yes and I'd wonder if we were getting close to having to stop when he'd come flying past, chasing down someone who'd gone past us.
I could see the last five miles were tough for James especially as it seemed the steepest and longest hills had all been placed in that five miles. Eventually we were back into Nottingham city, pass the football ground and across the finish line. We found a free patch of grass and relaxed, 52.4 miles completed. James lay down while I went for a beer. We sat a chatted for a while before grabbing a bite to eat and getting the car home. I'd had a brilliant day, the ride was fantastic, the weather just about right and the company great. Looking at James it knew he'd had a good day too and I was so impressed that he'd completed the whole thing feeling nowhere near 100 percent. In fact looking how fresh he still looked I reckon fully fit the 100 miler would not have been beyond him.
|James - Just leave me here for a while.|
So great day and I'd do it or something like it again like a shot. In fact next year I'm going to do a few. Thanks to James for being amazing, making me laugh and keeping me company (no easy feat to do without getting all stabby).