It’s been a while since I’ve done a long Sunday club ride, due to time constraints my rides are normally around 20-30 miles, albeit quite intense. But having joined South Normanton (SNCC) and with Charlie at my mums overnight on Saturday the time presented itself to get in a long one. Meeting time is 8am, so at around 7:30am I set off in the dark from South Wingfield to join the lads up at South Normanton, unlike the last mad scramble to make the meeting time for the midweek ride I was at least afforded a more relaxing start to this one, well it was until Iain Melrose suddenly appeared behind me with a “Morning Pat”, which made my heart race a little faster.
I remember when riding for Bolsover that every time Damo and Chris showed up there was a collective groan as they knew they were in for a hard time, I never minded it personally but it was funny. At SNCC this mantle appears to have been given to Brent and Jake who are both very strong riders, any thoughts of a pace other than hard went quickly out the window. Like before I wasn’t too bothered, what was going to be a trip into the unknown was the distance at that pace, as I say, it’s been a while and the fact I have a slight cold weakening my otherwise finely tuned engine…
Once 8am arrived we set off South towards Breaston, with a café stop planned at roughly 35 miles I knew at least there would be some recovery time. Before that though as expected Brent and Jake kept the pace high on the front, whenever the road went upwards I generally kept on the wheel or close to them both, others rode at their own pace knowing a regroup would allow them to catch up. There was one climb I decided to hold back, I figured it would be a little bit painful later on if I burned up all my matches early on, this would eventually prove to be a masterstroke.
About 35 miles in we rode past the turn for the café (aka a garden centre) before sharply making a uturn and then parking the bikes up. A great selection of cakes or breakfasts were on offer, I think I would have doubled my body weight with the breakfast cobs so opted for the hot chocolate and a flapjack. The café stop gave me chance to chat to a few of the lads, conversations ranged from haribo, to having pins taken out of injuries, a diverse group! Before long it was time to mount up, having located my bike I began kitting back up, at this point the zip on my gilet got stuck, it took a while to sort out, as I did so I was conscious that everyone had disappeared, I figured they’d be outside waiting…
As I exited the garden centre there was no one in sight in either direction, I also didn’t have a route or to be honest know where the hell I was, not a good combination. At first I went left, then decided it was going to be right, no choice here but to commit to the direction and put the hammer down. I kept passing other cyclists coming the other way “have you seen a big group?” I asked, “yeah” was the general response so I kept going. I probably asked about 4 or 5 more people but then there was no-one to ask and a choice to make in terms of route. I made the wrong decision.
I couldn’t have gone much more wrong, after going through Etwall (which I was at least thanks to my time trialling familiar with) but then ended up on a dual carriageway, I knew where I was, I just couldn’t find my way to where I wanted to go. The A38 is a fast and busy road, but at least I had some bright overshoes on and a white gilet (zip now sorted), having eventually got off it I was back in familiar territory on the A6. Prior to this though I must thank the guy who stopped and directed me, without him I think I would now be in the lost and found at Aldi.
Having blasted through Allestree and then into Duffield I found them! Thankfully for me (although not for Daz Gipp who had the puncture) they were all waiting in the layby. As I approached, everyone’s face was a look of bewilderment, basically, “What the hell are you doing here”. I explained what had happened, everyone apologised, but having ridden pretty hard for 18 solo miles at 20mph I was glad I’d held a bit back early on.
The run for home
Having got my breath back it was now time to go hard again. Brent had carried on solo at the café so it was up to Jake to lead the charge and charge he did. We blitzed it down the A6 through Belper and then to Ambergate. It was a real fast run down there, I went to the front whenever I could but it was mainly Jake doing the graft with me and a few others in behind. Having regrouped at the Hurt Arms I went on the front up to the Excavator before making my way home solo (by choice this time) as the group headed back to South Normanton. Despite the mishap in the middle this was a great group ride and something I’ve really missed. The legs were a little achy on Monday but that was a small price to pay for a solid ride.
The longer ride helped me hit my 100 mile / 6 hour goal for the week. There was also some turbo / Zwift setup on Saturday, more to come on that later. It’s a shame I had a work meal on Friday as that would have smashed my target a bit further.
The plan really is to ride consistently every Wednesday and Friday with SNCC, sneaking in a Sunday where I can, other than that I will ride solo. I’ve also signed up to Zwift which after a few goes looks fantastic. I think the 6 hours a week is going to be solidly hit from now on which is great as I’d like to build my CTL up towards nearer 60 to see how that correlates to my performance on the bike.
Thanks for reading