Burning matches

“If you keep burning matches, eventually you will run out….”

Never a truer word said today as I made my return to the Saturday morning bash for the first time in about 10 years.

A rare Friday off to recover, no Dan and some warm weather prompted a thought about going for a ride on Saturday morning. Thats rare. I decided I’d see what time I got up and how the legs felt and at 9am with about 20mins to go before I had to leave I decided I’d give it a go. Kit on I ventured out into the warm morning air and rolled down to meet them.

The Speeds bash, as it used to be called because it met outside Speeds Cycles (now a Yoga joint), has been going as long as I can remember and sometime ago settled on a route which takes you out of Bromsgrove town centre past Asda and up Rock Hill. Over the top it bears left and heads up and over Hanbury Woods to the Saltway. Along the Saltway direction Droitwich it takes a left and routes back round on itself via Himbleton and Bradley Green back onto the Saltway again towards Feckenham. The ride scoots through the lanes and takes on a couple of kickers into Webheath before a through-and-off, every man for himself smashfest down the Redditch Highway finishing at the end by the golf centre. A rolling 27 miles.

I rolled up at 9.30am. There were about 10 riders with a couple of familiar faces, just 10 years older! I was welcomed and exchanged pleasantries – ‘Where are you living?..What you doing now? kind of thing and then we rolled.

I found myself on the front chatting to Banham who works at my place. We rolled through town chatting and then he upped the tempo over Rock Hill. A steady ramp thats always a fraction too long to maintain 20mph up. Match #1 gone. We bore left and stopped at the lights at the Hanbury Turn. I rolled through and it was brought to my attention Banham normally stays on the front until the Saltway. Whoops! I felt like the noob but good thing I did then lol. I rolled up and over Hanbury Woods at a decent tempo chatting to Blacker who I’ve known for 30 years. We raced together as juniors. He’s like me, given up racing now. Can’t be arsed with the effort and has other stuff going on. Over the top (Match #2 done) he rolled through and this is where things are different to 10 years ago. Back then we’d roll along at 20’s, two on the front, do a bit roll through, repeat. All nice and organised. Onto the Saltway and the paceline took off at 27mph gradually whittling those working to the few that could. I went through and burned Match #3 so I sat in and recovered a bit. I say recovered, riders were leaving gaps at the back which made it a bit too stop n start so I moved up.

In Himbelton the two youngest and fittest went the wrong way. Back in the day we’d have eased and waited but no the next one went on the front to smash it. No paceline now just get on the front and go hard. Mad. I felt guilty sitting in for so long so I did a couple of turns (Matches #4 & #5) but got left on the front longer than I should have been. Up into Bradley Green I managed to roll off the front a bit and I did another big turn (Match #6) into Feckenham and back into the lanes. I was just rolling into the first hill and low and behold the hangers on all came to the front to smash it up the next three hills. I hung on the first one but the steeper, longer one to Webheath I went pop (Match #7, my last one). Again, the group used to ease in Webheath to regroup for the through and off down the dual carriageway but it was every man for himself. Half the group was gone, the leaders were gone and 3 of us were on our own but could see each other. I got onto the dual carriageway and did a TT to the end to empty the tank. I smashed myself to bits.

I was pleased with my overall fitness just lacked the zip that racing or a bit of Zwifting gives you. That said though with a bit of group etiquette and a bit or organisation we probably could of had more of us finish faster but who am I eh?

Had a great ride. It was a good workout. I’ll be back.

#oldskool #ridetillIdrop #dontsitin

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