I got home from work, changed then rode down to Staughton to join the club’s chain gang route. I timed it so that I would be ahead of the fast group. Warmed up I set a respectable pace keeping my average above 20mph. I expected to be caught, but I wanted to hold off the inevitable for as long as possible.
Villages along the B645 passed and I kept looking over my shoulder, but saw no pursuing group. I stopped for the traffic lights in Stonely but they didn’t see me caught. Up the climb to Hargrave, the road stretched ahead at the point of farthest view. In the distance I could see the flashing lights of a small bunch. I realised I had joined the chain gang between groups and the one ahead were giving my legs a little more impetus than the ones behind. I pushed a little harder, pursing them through Chelveston. They disappeared around a bend, then reappeared, a little closer. I looked behind, still no one there. I began to think, perhaps I could make the catch alone; perhaps I could beat the chasing group to the roundabout where the route reverses direction and heads for home.
They made it to the roundabout before me but only just. Within a quarter of a mile I had caught them and as I did we crossed paths with the chasing group.
I rode through the front bunch. Some chased me down and we re-entered Chelveston together. On the climb out of the village I left them again, this time for good. I was a kid again and racing whether the chasers knew it or not.
Over the climb and I thought, if I can make it to Hargrave… I looked behind and saw lights in the distance, but I couldn’t tell who. If I could make it the water tower. Over my shoulder the sky flushed pink from the setting sun. If I could make it to the Deans bend. If became a litany in my mind chanted to the rhythm of the road, urging me forward.
If I could make it to Tilbrook, the lay-by and Kimbolton. If I could make it to Stonely and if the lights were green. Only they were red and took an age to change, but no bike lights came round the bend. If I could make it to Agden, then I could make it back to Staughton. Uncaught.
I pulled in by the Tavern. A Mark (I think) went by, followed by Steve and maybe Rob. about thirty seconds after I stopped the main bunch went through. Perhaps I won’t disgrace myself in the weekend race.