No, not Michelle, I think she just tolerates me but hopefully does not hate me.
Anyway, yesterday, Sunday 17th April 2011 was the day I did my longest bike ride since last year’s Police Unity Tour. I did the Witham Wander which is a 103km (63 mile) bike ride in Essex. I did the ride last year and also back in 2006.
This is a great event and credit must go to the organiser for his time and trouble in arranging the event, along with a 150km and a 200 km ride also on the same day.
My son Tom did the ride for the first time, and I was also accompanied by Drew and his son Sam. Drew, Sam and I did the ride last year. It was interesting to see how well Sam has come on in the last year. Then he struggled round the 2nd half of the course, this year he positively flew round including up the steep hill near the end. Tom also did fantastically considering he has ridden very little in the last year. His new slim line figure proves how much easier it is to ride if you are not carrying excess weight.
The ride was around an area of Essex know to some as the Essex Alps. Well, its hardly the Alps, but there was some 2388 feet of climbing involved in the ride. It is a pleasant ride through the countryside.
An Audax is a ride where you get a sheet telling you instructions and you have to navigate the course. There are no marshals etc. You have to answer a couple of questions along the way and get your card stamped between certain times at a check point.
Well, the first question we had to answer related to the number of the first house on the right in a village we did not pass through! Hmmmmmmmmm, no wonder I got lost when I went to the village but couldn’t find the pub for the next turn!
Some 10 – 15 km before lunch, I got a front wheel p*nct*re – grrrrrrrrr. Never mind, a quick fix and we were on our way again. After a cup of tea and a cake at the control point, we set off again, or rather weren’t. You see, I had managed to pick up another p*nct*re , this time in the rear wheel. Fixed the p*nct*re , got the flint out of the tyre and away again. Within the next 24 kilometres, I had another 2 rear wheel p*nct*re , each in different places, and Sam had a front wheel p*nct*re . I wonder what we (especially me) had done to upset the p*nct*re fairy.
The repeated stops for p*nct*res meant that we were struggling to get back to the finish point within time. We had to push on for the last 25 kms. At one point we were doing in excess of 40km/h trying to get back to the finish on time. We eventually made it back with around 2.5 minutes to spare! Good job we put our foot on the pedal towards the end.
There is a nasty hill at the end of the ride. It is around 1.5 km uphill. Last year, I got up it ok, but Sam struggled and I waited for ages at the top. This year, Sam rode up the hill very easily, whereas I struggled. Firstly, my chain dropped off , so I had to stop on the hill. It is never easy to get started on a hill again and get your rhythm going. I did manage to get going and was following Drew, when he had a problem with his gears, I tried to go round him, but he started to ride away again, so I had to slow down as I couldn’t go fast enough to get past him. This disrupted my rhythm and I never got going properly after that. I struggled up the hill after a couple of stops.
Still we all completed the ride in the time and after a bite to eat in the village hall, it was time to load the bikes onto the car and head off home. In my case, it is off to Newcastle via Ilford – arriving home at around midnight, having driven around 360 miles and ridden 63 miles in one day.
Roll on the Police Unity Tour
So, who hates me? Obviously there are plenty of candidates for that role, but I was talking about the p*nct*re fairy. I have obviously upset her this weekend.