Thursday 16 May 2013

Sunday with the whippets

I know what you're thinking. No blogs for weeks and then they come all at once, just like buses. Well this ones for my father in law. Due to the bad weather, have I mentioned how wet and snowy it's been this winter ? I decided I needed some motivation to keep on the bike and ride during the winter.

Back in February I joined a local cycling club (The Calder Clarions) with view of meeting some like minded cyclists and encouragement to go out in the cold and ride.   But due to loads of snow in February and March, a back injury through ice skating and a bad chest it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I finally made a ride.

I researched before I went and the club has 3 Sunday rides.  The A ride is 70+ miles at an average of 18 mph, the B a similar distance at 15mph and the Masters Ride which is 50 miles at an average of 12 mph.  Even the masters ride has a warning not to underestimate the level of fitness required to complete.  I therefore decide, hesitantly, to go for the masters ride.

It meets at 9:00am on the Sunday morning at a local park.  I was running late so threw the bike in the boot of the car and drove down.  When I arrived they all laughed at the guy arriving by car. You're supposed to ride there, then do the 50 miles and then ride home.

I introduce myself to the other riders and prepare for group ride.  Riding in formation is new to me so one of the cub members hangs back and explains what I need to do.  George leads us out (George is 80 and still time trials) and Jimmy who's 77.  Most of the others in the group are a similar age to me.

The ride was a steady pace riding to Thorpe Arch Retail Park which is 25 miles.  At this point I'm learning how to ride in group, anticipating breaking in front, taking reference to the pothole warnings being passed back through the group and making sure I signal in plenty of time.  George up front is leading the ride and although the pace drops off a bit on the hills, overall I can't help but hope I am as fit as him when I hit 80.

It's a very civilised ride, where we ride to Thorpe Arch and stop at the cafe with all the shoppers being invaded by Lycra clad riders. It's obviously the Sunday Cycling place to be as we order our drinks and cakes only to then be flocked with 20 or so further riders from the Otley Cycling Club. A family with two young kids were trying to console their kids at the strange sight of all these Lycra clad individuals within the cafe. We are all middle to old aged men, but the Otley Crew was a mixed crowd covering both sexes and all ages.

Whilst eating, George mentions to me, it's going to be a lot harder going back.  We's gonna be riding into the wind quite a bit and a few of the climbs are a bit steeper, so if we're slowing too much on the hills please feel free to break club etiquette, come through to the front and feel free to take up the lead.

So I feel honoured that George mentions to me that, due to my obvious fitness, I should take the lead of the ride for a while.  Sure enough we start heading back and hit a few climbs with the wind in our faces myself and Ian work our way to the front of the group and take up the lead.  At this point I am really pleased with myself, my apprehension as to whether I would be fit enough completely forgotten and I'm leading a peloton !

It's only on reflection that realise that they probably decided to pick the two largest, lardy arsed riders to move to the front so that we could be effective wind breaks for the rest of the crew.  It really didn't have anything to do with my fitness levels, awesome bike control and excellent sense of direction.  No, it was pick the fattest, largest idiot who's stupid enough to do it and send him to the front for lead so everyone else can have a much easier ride.  Gutted......

As we get closer to Wakefield, some of the riders peel off and head home (unlike the bozo who left his car at the park and therefore had to ride back to the start).  Total ride is 49 and a bit miles, a great social ride and really good group of guys for cycling with.  Can't wait for my next outing..

and.... if you're wondering about the title, my Father-In-Law knew I had joined the cycling club which he has affectionately called "The Whippets".  Every week since becoming a member he has asked me if  I am out with the Whippets this weekend?  You never know, I might need to get a flat cap and a ferret down me trousers to complete the Yorkshireman in me.