Getting nearer to the back seats

Occasionally, very occasionally, life throws up some surprising results. It’s a bit like my post recently about perfection sometimes being delivered to your doorstep without having to go looking for it. For me, it’s an awful lot more surprising when I do something that I thought was beyond me. My first climb of an HVS 5a climb for example – at the time I was leading around kind of HS 4b level, and to lead Knights Move onsight was really something that I just thought I couldn’t do. It’s kind of like when you’re at school, and all the big boys have their seats at the back of the bus. Ialways knew my place, and it certainly wasn’t among them. Well, it’s the same with cycling. I’m happy pottering around at my own pace, and I know that pace is somewhere around a 30km/h average for a 25km ride, and about 27km/h for a 100km ride. I don’t take these averages particularly seriously, as they include things like roundabouts, traffic lights, speed bumps and footbridges. But, I know where I stand, and it’s safe to say, I’ll not be entering any time-trials again any time soon. Yesterday, however, I popped out for a 100km loop with plans to pick up Sol and Andy along the way. The first part of the circuit was flat into the wind, and basically bloody hard work. After picking up Sol at Willingham, we headed South-East, with a plan to head through Rampton, Cottenham, Waterbeach, Teversham and Fulbourn before meeting up with Andy at Balsham. Due to my navigational skills I reckon we took a wrong turning after about 12kms and ended up going right through Cambridge, which was rubbish. Eventually we got to Balsham, and waited for Andy. To cut a long story short, he’d had to have a change of plan, and had set off early to meet me in Soham, only we missed each other, so he’d spent the past three hours chasing the pair of us back to Balsham, never quite getting close enough to shout and let us know he was there. My final stretch then was from Balsham back through Dullingham, Newmarket and Exning back to Soham. Apart from the incident with the police car when I may have slightly jumped a red light a little bit, it was all pretty straightforward.

I got back, had a cuppa and stretched my legs, and had a look at the stats for the ride. 99.55km, 29.8km/h average, and a maximum speed of 65.2km/h. Blimey. Where did that come from? I’d taken over 20 minutes off my previous best 100km time (OK, so I was 450 metres short, but even in my most pessimistic moments, I doubt that will take 20 minutes to cover) with no real drama at all. And I’m still really quite surprised by those numbers. They’re just not the kind of numbers that I’m capable of.

All of which seems to bode well for the 150km sportive that I’ve entered next month. And, in a perfect display of timing, it appears that cycling is the current popular manifestation of a midlife crisis. Which is fine by me, as to be honest, I think I’m due a mid-life crisis. And if it means I have to do a bit more cycling rather than buying a zippy red sports car or a Harley-Davidson, well, that’s just the way it is. I never liked Harley-Davidsons anyway.