The waymarking cock up is a bit of a mystery. Especially as the waymarker was waiting patiently when Martin went back to collect the ones that had been by-passed. Oh well!Well, as a first ride as leader for Kim, that was a baptism of fire (baptism of wind and rain would be more appropriate given the weather!) but she came through with flying colours. Pink legwarmers about the same shade as a maglia rosa, fittingly…
After last time's fail in the post-work sprint challenge, more usual result on Friday night. Usual 9.30 finish gave me the usual seven and a half minutes, but I rolled up to the northbound platform at the airport station just as the train pulled in, which was nice. Got to Waterloo & met up with @mmmmartin @robjh and (pleased to meet you) @LucretiaMyReflection. Appeared not to be raining at this stage. Appearances were deceptive. Having made our way round to the NT, it was drizzling, so the trousers came on & stayed on for the duration. Never that wet, thankfully, but wet enough to want the protection. Turnout a bit lower than the seventy or so registered, but still a healthy fifty or so.
For the second Whitstable run in a row, I was all-up man, this time with Martin, Nick, and most of the time, Greg. On this night as that, there was a navigational error- not by us, this time (I'll come back to that). Again, we were rather busier than we would have liked- somewhat inevitable, rain hides all the grot that causes punctures- and again, some of the waymarkers were a bit slow to get going after the call of 'all-up', sometimes I needed two or three calls. Certainly wasn't whispering either, despite Greg's suggestions I was a bit quiet (these Australians and their sledging ). Never mind…
We left a few minutes late, tsk tsk. At first, all went fairly well, but then there was a bit of a waymarking fail (Tabard Street/Law Street junction, I think from a look at the GPX tracks for this run and April's). Martin reckoned it was someone not being clearly visible to oncoming riders rather than leaving their post. In any case, this meant the back of the ride ending up on the Old Kent Road, definitely off route and definitely not cyclist-friendly. A bit of impromptu rerouting got us back on track. Martin doubled back to collect the waymarkers inadvertently left behind, while the rest of us got on back on course. The tail end were then required to help out with our first deflation, Geoff having helpfully stopped at a bus stop on Jamaica Road. My tyres had a lucky escape on Lower Road when I went over a broken bottle, and somehow none took both one or both tyres out. Phew! By the time we got to the regroup at Greenwich, and were rejoined by Martin and those lost-and-found waymarkers, we were a good half hour behind usual schedule. On to the usual Plumstead comfort break stop/regroup, where many resorted to carrying their bikes over the rather large quantities of glass.
Through to Dartford, and as ever, regroups were short for us at the back (not a complaint, it comes with the job), though there was a certain amount of faffage on the Fast Track bus lane. Alice and her lovely old Saracen frame, the aforementioned Daisy, with its not-so-lovely bolted on rear wheel, suffered the first of multiple deflations- on the back, of course. Thank you, Mr Local Bike Shop in Brixton, for doing that to the frame and taking the quick release off, very helpful. Hopefully the fine folk at Brixton Cycles will sort it out for her. Charlie had a puncture on the east side of Greenhithe, where he was also helped out by a passing chap on a rather nice Giant. Charlie's new Mavic wheels were rather tight to get tyres on, but Nick and his VAR levers got the job done.
Alice picked the perfect place and time for her next puncture, almost. The final turn before Strood. Another few minutes and we could have sorted it at the church…ho hum. And then, at last, to the church. By this stage, most of the ride had been there a while. Which meant that my stop was a bit rushed. Only time for getting two rolls, a bit of lemon drizzle, two pieces of the bread pudding, and a bit of victoria sponge, in my face, then. Fewer leftovers for Tim, at least.
By the time we left the church, first light was visible. A few riders left us here for an early train home. Soon we were into the rural(ish) bit of the ride. More punctures, a bit of faffage, and by the time we got to Sainsbury's in Faversham (second comfort stop option) we were already past eight o'clock. In readiness for the breakfast sprint, I relinquished the all-up job (thanks Kim and Martin), and once we hit that last turn I attempted to burn the last of those halfway calories. A good turn of speed in places, but traffic and the wind where it wasn't favourable did for any hopes of beating my PR on the 6.7 mile Strava segment ('race for breakfast'). Unlike Greg, who sped past me, right from the back of the ride, and clocked the fastest time this year, and eighth fastest overall. Chapeau.
On to the Waterfront, where I delivered cake courtesy of Tim and Angela to the staff- much appreciated- before demolishing the large breakfast. And then, an epic train journey. On account of the wind, the one-an-hour high speed service into St Pancras was suspended, so the one-an-hour service into Victoria, which was still running, it was. Oh dear. As ever, quite a few of us were aiming for the same train as me, unfortunately some of them didn't know how to get to the northbound side, so ended up lugging their bikes over the footbridge. Whoops. The 10.27 service was already running a few minutes late by the time it got in, as Network Rail had imposed a 50 mph speed restriction. The conductor decided to blame us cyclists for a further delay (balderdash). And then, we got some additional stops to boot. Helpful. Rammed, slower running and increasingly late…by the time we got to Victoria we were over half an hour later than scheduled. A fellow rider described it as the journey from hell....not even slightly. Over to Waterloo, in time for the one o'clock service, and hence home and the usual nap.
Dear weather: enough already with this wind and rain on Friday ride nights, OK? Ta.
Great job Kim, and thanks everyone. Kings Lynn next…