The weather had been terrible for a few week prior to the Rutland CiCLE Sportive, so I was pretty aprehensive in the run up to Saturday. The forcast predicted an improvement however, with maybe a shower. Let’s just say that I didn’t bother to clean my bike!
Despite getting out of bed at 4:00am, the drive up was okay. Not much traffic! Paul, Clive and myself signed in and got changed. The thermometer in the car said 6.5 degrees C. Winter gloves; yes. wooly socks; yes. Overshoes; yes. Long sleeves; yes. Long legs; yes. Following the basic truism that the smaller the distance to travel; the later you are, the boys from the Travel Lodge rolled in at 8:00ish. By 8:30 we were all assembled and ready for the team photo. I think there were eleven of us at that point. By the time I’d had my time chip scanned and rounded the first bend there were ten; Larry sure was on a mission!
I think we were about half an hour in when the rain started and didn’t stop. We were quickly wet through. Water and mud lay all over the road making bike handling tricky. I charged down the first large descent and fairly terrified myself trying to keep control as I attempted to reduce speed. The more I braked, the more the front wheel oscillated wildly; a combination of water, mud and cross wind, coupled with a twitchy frame and, if I’m honest, a less than perfectly true wheel. I didn’t allow myself to reach that speed again on the ride. I tried hiding behind man mountain Tim Amphlett for a while but the constant face shower from his back wheel made drafting less appealing than usual. There were certainly some tough hills. One, signed as 12%, seemed to test my gearing to its limit as I zig-zagged across the slope in an attempt to take the edge off.
After a while of this fun and games the group stopped to wait for Lee, who had punctured. Once stationary it became obvious that some of our group were getting pretty uncomfortable although everyone put a brave face on it. I remember thinking how grim this would be on my own. We got going again and slogged away. “I want my mum” admitted Kev Coman. He was joking but many a true word is spoken in jest! He confessed that his hands were numb. Stuart Burdett had come down from Leeds, his new base, in the hope that southwards the conditions would be improved but his knees looked pretty blue in shorts.
After about three and a half hours, Kev said that the first feed station was coming up and, sure enough, it came into view. We bundled into the small village hall and were met with a pretty squalid scene. The floor was awash with water and every horizontal surface was strewn with flapjack and High Five powder. There was a very interesting smell. The cyclists within could be split into two groups; those that were cold and wet, and those that were shaking violently from head to toe. A few folks really didn’t look like they could cope with more than the same again (we were 44 miles into a 100mile route). I overheard lifts to headquarters being offered by the organisers and gratefully accepted. To cut a long story short, I don’t know who offered the idea first but we were soon looking at options for cutting the trip short. Our map suggested that we could be home and dry in 10 miles by the direct route so that’s what we did. Under the circumstances it seemed to be the sensible choice.
As we made quick progress home, we had two nagging doubts. Firstly, several of our party were ahead of us and so could not be told what was going on. Secondly, the rain was now easing, were we wimping out? We got back, showered, changed and then sent a text to tell Paul what we’d done, before saying our goodbyes. Unfortunately, Clive and I had to dig in for a long wait while Paul, relying on us for transport home, finished the full 100 miles.
He even had the nerve to say he enjoyed it!
Us that wimped out give full credit to those hardy souls that saw the enterprise through to the bitter end:
Larry Colby, Paul Anderson, Mark Drake, and Rob Anderson. Well done.