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This turned out to be a classic club ride. Arranged the night before after the Time Trial I nearly missed it. I’d sauntered down to the Eureka after going back for my saddlebag.
Got there early to get Frank’s Breakfast down me and spoke with few about my rides going backwards including Ray and Keith Boardman.
I’d backed off, not given 100% and was beating myself up over it.
It was short sleeves and bib short weather and I ended up chasing the bunch down to Woodbank. Things were going good we all got down to the lights at the A5117 got across them fine and then got held up by a set of lights at the sliproad. Here we met up with our irate motorist of the day, sounding his horn at us.
Over what I don’t know but considering the number of waves we got for waving cars and vans past when we saw it was clear it was the only incident. We had another around Wrexham when a car came up real close on JJ’s wheel because of oncoming traffic but that was it.
Didn’t get dropped this week going along the Dee or on the road through Saltney so things are looking up. In fact things are going OK until the back of Kinnerton where I start to fall off the back on some of the climbs. Barry is dishing out the pace but there is always a fresh guy on your wheel when you begin to falter. Paul stops and the group wait for first me to catch up but Paul never shows as we had made two turns out of his sight.
Supposedly we are going out to the Mountain Bike Centre but Northend rides are fluid. We are going up the Steps but before then we have to get back on the group, we get together at a set of traffic lights but it is clear we have two sets of abilities on the ride and I’m clearly in the second set.
I’m off the back before we reach the Steps. This is granny ring stuff for me or at least the bottom ring on a compact. The granny always wins for me as I catch Dave Newbie on the final step, he’s on 39×25 and I’m on 30×27. 39×25 is still a big ring for this sort of steep climb. A 53/39 chain ring is designed for Racers not mere mortals like me who struggle when I come to something steep.
There are enough Northenders for at least 3 ability rides on a Wednesday may I suggest Elite, Club and Social. I’d class myself a club/social. Like a Cafe stop but ain’t good enough to do a big loop without a stop. Now for me this is a two bottle ride, from experience I know if I don’t have two bottles of water or SIS I am going to be in trouble.
Going up the Steps sweat is pouring out of me, I ‘ve got my Discovery cap on and it is dripping off the peak. All over my £271 Garmin 705. The sweat evaporates to leave a salt stain. I’m not King of the Mountains but the Lantern Rouge. Once over the top Dave regains his pride and I can’t get into the granny ring for the next climb so we are in the same boat. No real time to recover and we are off again.
The next section fills me with doubt , Andy Walsh (club champion) says “See the house up there, that’s where we are going” and sure enough we do. The real test is the climb up from Minera. There are three of us at the back, Moi, Dave Newbie and Barry. The rest have flown. Andy goes around and I have to stop to put the chain on the granny ring. Dave said I need to get in my lowest gear as it just gets steeper later on around the first bend. don’t know why it wouldn’t go in to the granny ring now as it was alright going up the steps.
I catch up we Dave and basically we discuss the meaning of life and how we’ve got it back.
It is agreed we stop at the Prospect Cafe come what may. Now last year the Northend got knocked back at the Prospect but no problems this year (It is involved but the service is relaxed).
Wear a set of brake blocks out on the descent to Worlds End Ford, walkers on the wrong line but it is steep. Opt to take the steps across the ford as I nearly came off riding it last year. Barry has some great pictures.
Club photo opportunity at the ford and then we head off down hill towards Panorama.
Along the lane two escaped sheep are trying to outrun the group. Just when you thought it was going to the side it would dart back across your wheel. It gets sorted but they are a fair way from where they started.
I’ve been shelled of the back on this section as I can’t get into the granny ring on the climb near the abbey and saw the group climbing this section and from where I was it looked steep, when I actually came to it it wasn’t that bad. Found that magic gear and caught Dave Newbie up. Dave had managed to get another concussion puncture and we had agreed to stop at the Cafe whatever the others were doing.
Five of us opt to take the cake stop at the “Prospect Cafe ” as Dave has two punctures. The rest ride on. There is a bit of history with this place , last year the club got knocked back, a week later the Seamons Audax was here in force including me having 3 scones.
We spend a good hour at the cafe before we refill with water and head back to the Eureka. Dave had his two punctures sorted by the time the tea and scones came.
The ride back to the Eureka is big ring stuff with only a stop for Dave to put more air in his tyre as it was rolling off the rim on the bends. There is no picture of Barry on the Dee cycleway as he zoomed off at 34 mph with the wind behind him, were we had an easy 20mph. Barry makes a few breaks during the ride my effort on the Saltney rail bridge is thwarted by a red traffic light.
Barry has another go up Woodbank with Andy Walsh taking off after him, don’t know who made it to the junction first but we were well down.
Soup at the Eureka looked good. I’d had the usual oat bar and Lucozade Sport. Rode back via the Missing link with Barry and Andy.
77 miles and a great day.
Link to GarminConnect Map to follow.