A new ride for me this year but Ray rode it last year. The weapon of choice was the Toy and if I’d had any sense I’d have fitted the raceblades but that’s in hindsight.
A belt of rain was forecast and I was hoping to avoid it.
Clothing is dilemma at this time of the year, overdress and you fry, under dress and you freeze. Throw in some rain and it can make for a miserable ride.
Turned out to be a good ride with Ray, Martin, Phil and moi riding together again. All using GPS with Ray’s route programmed in. We had a slight detour and I managed to drop my overtrousers that would be needed later. Soon back on course though.
Now we hitched a ride on the back of group of fast guys. There was a steady headwind and these guys were up for it. The average speed went up and it was just like a club run. Strong guys on the front setting a good pace.
We did pass Jodrell Bank and I did get a picture on the move but it mainly consisted of an overgrown hedge. It was good to see all the same. The digital camera doesn’t like looking into the sun. First stop was the first checkpoint which is the third picture. Time for a bite to eat and a sip of energy drink.
Our group gets split by a set of traffic lights so I ease off the back of the front group to remain with them. Getting back on to the main group takes some doing and it takes a while if not a set of traffic lights to rejoin.
It starts to fall apart again on a hill. I manage to bridge the gap that was forming to the lead pair. The group is well split but once crested they know they have split the group and I opt for a stop for a picture.
Ray in the Hi Viz, Martin in red and don’t know who the guy in blue is. Probably the highlight of the ride for me, had a good go on a climb. Things went well until the next control point. The weather that we were hoping to miss hit us, not before I took two pictures at the control point
Nice place, the landlord of the pub even offered us in and that was after the rain had started. No mudguards meant I was in for a soaking, the Sealskinz socks held out as I had no overshoes but the hands took the brunt of it. Had retrace my steps as it became obvious that the rain wasn’t going to pass and it was best to don wet weather gear if you had any.
The next section isn’t fun as I’ve not brought along the right gloves. The BBB winter gloves are not waterproof and being fleecy act like a sponge. My hands are freezing and I contemplate dropping off the back to warm them. Luckily the next info point comes up and by this time the rain has stopped.
Had a near miss at the rail crossing, I’d parked my bike on a lamppost at the level crossing as we needed a number off the post box a few feet away. Next minute there is a bleeping and the barriers starts to come down. I whip the toy out of the way with seconds to spare as the barrier would have chopped the toy in two.
Next thing an Intercity Express train passes at around 120 mph, it doesn’t bear thinking about the speed it passes by. Got a bit of warmth back into my fingers and the next section isn’t too bad. Ray has pencilled us in for a stop at a Tesco mini supermarket rather the garage or KFC.
Going back to Audlem the staff at the Coop are getting used to us invading them for till receipts. Soreen malt loaf for lunch (a whole one) with a large Lucozade sport to top the bottle up with. The rain has made a handy cyclist splashing puddle right where we are congregating. It didn’t happen but we had at least two barstewards sounded their horn at us on the ride. One idiot in an Audi was even coming the other way.
Back to the ride, we had lost Derek by this stage as he has tagged along with us on the last Cheadle ride. Ray pushes a high gear and I mean high, I followed him up one climb and he went up it in 52X12 or 13. I’m assuming 12 because he’s in it all day.
Phil on the other hand says he feels like a prat spinning away on the new Ultegra Compact groupset he has fitted. I make no bones about it if I need to go into the granny ring I will. On the longer steep climbs I have been overtaken by riders pushing 39X25 only to re pass them further on near the summit. Don’t get me wrong I’m still in the red but the lower gearing at least allows me some acceleration in a situation like this where normally (every other club run) I would not be able to respond.
The run in to Cheadle isn’t too bad and I do my stint on the front. There is no rain now and the roads are drying so someone can take my mudguardless wheel. There is one part where I sprint off the front downhill because it is a waste of a good hill if you don’t carry that momentum up the other side.
The route back takes us through some of the quieter (better) area’s of Cheadle but you are continually reminded of how close this is to the Manchester airport flight plan. The jets can’t be more than 100 metres above us but it still an impressive sight. The frequency is about one a minute when they are landing in your direction.
There is a good spread at the finish with some hot tomato soup that goes down well.