The alarm went off at 5.30am, it took me a few minutes to adjust, “This isn’t my bedroom, where am I?” Don’t worry Em hadn’t kicked me out. I was sleeping on the sofa bed so that I wouldn’t wake her and baby Charlotte up when I arose at the unsociable hour. I had less than an hour until Andy H would be picking me up and we’d be making our way down to Cheshire for the Jodrell Bank Sportive. The time went quick: Put the sofa bed away, eat porridge, fill drinks bottle, take cold tablets as feeling like crap, feed the cat his breakfast ( very important for keeping the peace ) and pump the tires up on the bike having got it out of the cellar.
Before I knew it I was arriving in Cheshire, it was only 8am but it felt like the middle of the day. Parking up in the school car park I did think to myself “If this many middle aged men in revealing lycra were seen in a school playground during the week, the place would be on lockdown and the armed response unit from Manchester Police would be called.” Thankfully however the only thing under threat that morning was good taste.
I bumped straight into fellow Pirate Silent Assassin who greated me with a big hug. It was great to briefly catch up with each other as we hadn’t met since a well earned ASDA fry-up the morning after The Outlaw back in August 2010. Minutes later he and his wife Jo ( who didn’t quite look awake ) headed off to do battle with the 80 mile loop whilst I headed to put my number on my bike and get changed.
One last check of the bikes and me and Andy headed out onto the highways and byways of Cheshire. The weather stayed kind to us and despite the earlier forecasts we remained dry and not buried in snow.
The course itself was a very pleasant one, a few long uphill drags but nothing major. It was certainly no Le Terrier. It was probably a good indication of my fitness and lack of bike miles that I struggled on the climbs, the extra weight I’m carrying wouldn’t have helped either. I joked that I was climbing like a hippo on a unicycle. Thankfully Andy H waited for me at the top of the hills. The course took in some of the Macclesfield Triathlon bike course, I was riding along thinking I’ve seen this before without actually knowing where I was. The other landmark of course was the promotional SKY TV dish that happened to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere known as Jodrell Bank.
We certainly made the correct decision to change from the 80 mile to the 50 mile route, as when we finished Andy H could feel his back – it didn’t however stop him from showboating over the line ahead of me no handed. I too having completed my longest ride since the Outlaw was glad of the cup of coffee that awaited me once I unclipped. My nose was also running like ” A Glass Blowers Arse” as my training partner is so fond of saying. I was very glad to get a tissue and relieve some of the pressure from my head.
We finished in 3.23, not fast, not spectacular and certainly not flat out. It was a sensible ride, mostly comfortable and just what I needed to ease me back into riding my bike for a few hours at a time. I had thought 3.30 – 4 hours, so it was better than I thought.
My only gripe of the day, and this probably comes from being a triathlete was the “wheel huggers”. At a few points everytime I turned around I rubbed noses with a guy behind me, he was that close. More alarmingly he was riding with his front wheel overlapping my back wheel, a very dangerous action and one that can lead to crashes. He and his mates just sat there for miles, I was on the verge of saying something when they got delayed at a road junction and Andy and I hit the gas to get away. Riding in close groups can be very scary if not done properly….but other than that, this was a great event. I really think that on a good day and really going for it I could did under 3 hours, might chance my luck next year.
SO…..why the title of this blog? Well those who’ve read my blog and indeed the book will notice something missing from this report?
There were no punctures, no falls, no crashes, no mechanicals or any incidents that delayed either myself or Andy H. This was the first time that we had completed a sportive together in 5 years without incident.
A first time for everything !