Well today is a day off. Originally booked for my mini-weekend tour to Radnorshire. Today was Day 1, a ride to Presteigne, then tomorrow was supposed to be my April Resolution Ride around the Radnor Ring route (130km) and then a simple ride home on Sunday. Some cow called Pam Demic kiboshed that so I had to have a rethink. I’m still not keen on a full-on 100km miles away from home, it just don’t sit right with me so I thought about something brutal indoors again like last months epic up and down the Swiss Alps. It struck me that its normally Liege-Bastogne-Liege time, the oldest cycling monument on the Pro calendar so why not do something in the Ardenne. A quick look on Rouvy and low and behold there is an 118km route which covers all the classic climbs of the finale! Yes! I thought for 0.01secs then realised it would be another 4hrs on the rack. Hmmmm. Not keen. Then at the death this morning a fellow blogger Tempocyclist who gave me the idea for these rides posted his April ride blog. He’d done some local laps to knock his out (on a TT bike! does that count? lol) so that got me thinking about going out. I then looked at the weather on my phone (19 degs, wall-to-wall sunshine) and I was done, I need to get out. A local route it was.
A bucket of coffee and breakfast done, I jumped on the PC to map a route while it went down. I hatched up a route where I would probably be no more than 12/13 miles from home. My conscience can deal with that so I uploaded it to my Garmin and then I looked left.
To my left was my best bike. Its been there for months all winter. Cleaned and stowed nicely but has gathered a heap of shit around it now in my man cave. I did need an excuse to give it a run out but 1. I really like to check my bikes over thoroughly if they’ve been stored and 2. 100km on a bike I’m not used to is a questionable decision too. After a shitty week I needed a lift, something fast n furious so I decided to give it a go. Tyres pumped. I cleaned (dust) and lubed the chain, pumped the tyres, fitted my saddlebag and it was good to go. Nothing had really changed on it but I was about to find out that really wasn’t the case today.
I went outside in the sun to determine if I needed arm warmers. Not a chance. It was full on shorts and short sleeves so I decided to go full #stravawanker and oil up the legs and don some loud n long roadie socks. Regrettably, at the moment I have very white legs but you’ll see in the pics I have nice tanned legs. This is because I use a Morgan Blue muscle oil which has some colour (paprika) and acts as a warming oil too. Its a fake tan lol! FFS. I’m such a wanker.
By the time I’d faffed about I was out the door 12ish. Straight down to the lights and the first thing I notice with my best bike is that it has Qrings well QXL actually and I’ve been riding round ones for months. For a couple of miles it feels really stodgy but in fact the Qrings, for me, create a better pedal stroke and its the round rings that mess it up. Less strain on the knees, less fatigue blah blah blah, thats another blog all together I’ll probably never do. They just work (very well) for me. I don’t know if its muscle memory but I get used to the change of rings either way very quickly.
Out the door and into the lanes and I was cruising at 32km/h+ Although my thighs and shins were complaining after a couple of days running around outside playing football and basketball with my lad. They didn’t feel ‘on it’ today so I tempered my speed and cracked on. I was riding along the back road towards Droitwich and I saw my old mate I saw last week again. He was on his daily 9 mile walk. We had a quick chat and then a group of 4 cyclists came past. Lined out, no social distancing whatsoever. I got going again and I could see I was catching them up as I approached Droitwich and then they stopped on a corner. All together. Absolute idiots. I shouted they should know better as I rode past disgusted. A couple had Team Sky kit on. Work that one out. At least I call myself a wanker.
Quickly through Droitwich and I was back out in the lanes and the legs were complaining when I got out the saddle or pushed on uphill. Not good. My arms and shoulders were hurting too. Its a fast bike but pretty unforgiving too when you’ve been riding 38mm gravel tyres for weeks. I pushed onto Tibberton and as I crossed the canal bridge, I glanced across to The Bridge pub garden and just thought how nice a day it would be to be sat there or any beer garden chugging a cold, sharp Thatchers Gold or something. Blame Pam for that one.
I saw dozens of cyclists out today. Serious, some not so just enjoying the weather and quiet roads. Its great to see and I so hope more keep it up when the lockdown ends.
The climb up through Crowle was a grovel and then another quick stint out towards Himbleton before a right to Huddington. As I approached Grafton Flyford my bike started to squeak. I mean really squeak, very loudly. It was like birds chirping around me. I knew straight away what it was. Seized wheel bearings. I tried to push on through it but it got worse and worse so I had to stop. My worst nightmare. I got off the bike and rolled it forward and heard the creak and diagnosed the back wheel. I took it out and I couldn’t move the axle with my fingers. Shit. I took the cap off the bearing and there it was. A dirty brown embarassing mess. I knew they were a bit gritty when I stowed the bike last Autumn but obviously they were worse than I thought. I’d broken my Rule No#1 and this was payback. I tried to tap the axle out with my multi tool, didn’t work so I thought they’re probably dry so I dripped some energy drink on it and worked that in. It freed and went quiet. Thats all I could do so I popped the wheel back in the bike and carried on. It was creaking and popping so I decided probably best to head straight home.
My route was pretty direct home for a bit so I just followed that but as I got to the would be turn-off I’d noticed the wheel was quiet so I decided to carry on (along the route) and see what happens. I tentatively carried on a a bit more and before I knew it I was 70km in and on my 2nd kind of loop. I was going to get this done. I stopped just outside Inkberrow for a pic, span my back wheel to check it and found the wheel had pulled and I’d been riding with a brake pad rubbing on the rim ffs. Not the best day. Corrected I was off again.
With about 10km to go I ran out of drink. My legs were shagged and my back, shoulders and arms were broken. I broke my Rule no#2 about riding my bike first and I was paying for that too. I just wasn’t used to the more aggressive position after riding my gravel bike for months and the road shock just went through me. It takes some getting used to and I should know better to be honest.
Home, I’d scraped over the line @ 101km in 3hrs 24mins. All my early gains got wiped out by fatigue in the end. Just not used to that harsh (but fast) bike.
I jumped in the shower and ate some pasta knowing I had about an hour before I collected my treat for the weekend