It is hard to imagine Jarvis Cocker purring through the Milton Keynes suburbs. Far Bletchley. It doesn’t quite carry off the long seductive vowels of Wombwell. Woooommbwell. Each roundabout presented a new set of names, Coffee Hall, Bean Hill, MK Caffeine City, but no sign for the National Bowl. I was heading there to race the MKCA circuit for the first time. My first road race of the year too and I was looking forward to it.
I don’t like navigating through Milton Keynes; it’s parkways and roundabouts play havoc with my sense of location and I’m all at sea. At last I saw some temporary AA signs for a flower show at the Bowl. I followed them and found myself driving through parkland surrounding the bowl, but every turn took me to another locked gate. I stopped and consulted my phone’s GPS. It wasn’t helping though. I was quite clearly at the Bowl.
Tim, my club mate, saved me with a phone call. I had clear directions, but there was bad news too. The evenings racing was cancelled because of a flower show.
I parked up next to Tim. Despite the anti-climax I was keyed up, so with energy and frustration to burn, we decided to have a ride around and see what the circuit had to offer. Apart from a short quarter mile loop we very quickly discovered most of the bowl was closed. To spice things up we had a go at an individual pursuit around the loop. For several laps the gap stayed constant, however, the loop had a slight incline and after a while I noticed it was giving me an advantage. I was gradually beginning to gain. But the attrition was slow and boredom was setting in. Tim eased up and decided to go home. Still, it had got the heart rate going.
I stayed on and turned off the loop onto one of the cycle ways surrounding the bowl. It was all quite pleasant, lots of trees and I didn’t notice any shady shaded figures lurking in the underpasses. I did notice the sealed surfaces give way to packed stone though. With my Pro3’s it probably wasn’t the best surface to ride over so I retreated back to tarmac.
Then I did something I haven’t really done since childhood; I explored the suburbs. Driving in I had noticed a lake on the opposite side of the road to the Bowl. I rode around it and into Furzton. I quickly formed the opinion that this was one of the towns more desirable locations. Spiralling back to the lake, every curve revealed larger mock-Tudor variations, people carriers gave-way to performance estates. There was nothing new to see here so I rode back to the bowl.
Tim and I were not the only people not to know the evenings race was cancelled. Others ahad turned up and turned around, but an Ashwell rider was still taking advantage of the loop to get in some unscheduled training. After my suburban sojourn my legs had refreshed so I did some more circuits, sprinting up the loops incline, first in 53/11 then 12 as the lactic built up. The street lights flickered on, I warmed down and left.
As with the Sunday, not the ride I had planned, but I had tried to make the most of MK and gotten a reasonable work out in return.