I try, I really do try to be on time for the Sunday morning club run, yet I always seem to cut it fine. Last Sunday, however, will take some beating.
I couldn’t find one thing, found it, couldn’t find the next thing, put the first thing down, found the next thing and forgot where I put the first thing. I cursed a fair bit (my wife calls this an understatement); this type of self-annoyance I find intensely frustrating.
At 8.30, while the rest of the club were preparing to ride out, I was just leaving home, a 20 minute ride from the Market Square. I time trialled into town and reasoned how I could catch the group. I had already phoned ahead to say I would meet them on the road, but only got voicemail. I reckoned 5 minutes’ grace before phones were checked (see how my reputation precedes me), then another 5 minutes for faffing. They would have about 10 minutes head start on me. But, they were a group and Saturday evening tweets were warning that Mr Hancock (very handy on a TT bike) would be riding. Unless they had mechanicals, my chances of catching from a direct pursuit were slim at best.
Fortunately I knew the route, I had planned it. I could take a 2 mile short cut early on and hope to head them off on the Hatley Road. Failing that I could take the direct route along the A1128 into Royston. My final chance would rest in the hills south of Royston. I may not be able to compete with the group on the flat, but on the climbs, the odds would tip in my favour.
I crossed the A10 at Buckland with most of the climbing behind me. I cut a solitary figure riding across the chalky Hertfordshire lanes. The journey back to St Neots would be mostly downhill, flat and alone.
I pulled up outside the post ride cafe to find just a few die-hard coffee drinkers from the slower paced group, who rode a shorter route. No sign of the faster group. I was surprised. Had the hills been too much and they had gone straight home? No, about half an hour later they turned up. The group had suffered two punctures early on and before the Hatley Road. Unwittingly I had passed them in the first few miles of the ride, so I hadn’t known to cease my pursuit and wait. Such is the difficulty of trying to catch a moving target, perhaps I’ll mention club-run radio to the treasurer. My hopeless start to the morning had resulted in 70 solo miles averaging just over 19mph. Not such a bad ending, especially since comparing Strava results my ride was faster than the group’s!