I have informed everybody to punch me in the face quite hard the next time I suggest riding at the tail end of January.
Started out well enough, sun shining, we hung around for Neil who had been caught out by the A14 bridgeworks and subsequent road closure. Should have taken more notice of the alarming amount of condensing breath (Playing at the Cambridge Corn exchange, 'Condensing Breath') clouding the area and frequent shivering/ teeth chattering.
Ignoring the warning signs, bikes were assembled, route discussed and we were off!
North Cambridgeshire is a flat county with a sprinkling of undulating hills, descents and quiet roads. What I call 'The Shire' is almost free of villages and towns with only the odd house and hamlet to keep you company while you spin through the countryside. Then its into Northamptonshire with its Lincolnshire stone buildings, farms and pubs. The latter tempting us with promise of warmth, beer and food, did I mention warmth? It was a nice quick hop into Oundle via more quiet little villages with amazing views of Buzzards and Red Kites feeding on the local furries. A quick spin through Oundle and its back into the countryside.
The riding was good, all levels of fitness enabling us to get up the only real hill into Southwick. Time for a pub stop!
Resisting the temptation to down a Sunday Roast and a few pints, we settle for sandwiches accompanied by the newly christened 'Winter Salad' (an exotic accompaniment comprising of roast potatoes and gravy).
Reluctantly, just as the pub started to fill up, we decided to head off, the temperature drop and lowering cloud base not going unnoticed...
All is good as we enter the achingly pretty hamlet of Blatherwyck with its ornamental lake, bridge and stables, we wondered what had happened to the 'Big House' that should have been there. After a quick conversation with the ducks, we followed the road up and round the estate border into King's Cliffe. More disgustingly pretty architecture and as we pause, absolute silence with just the twitter of birds and the dog of mystery...
I should have noticed the warning signs that the newly installed Ritchey saddle was just about the most uncomfortable thing I have ever had the misfortune to sit on! Even after a quick adjustment the ache was getting distracting.
After King's Cliffe, we entered yet more pretty villages and came to the conclusion that as fast as we were riding through, they were being dismantled and reassembled in front of us. It was starting to get almost boring! Village after pretty village with what appeared to be the same inviting pubs and the same dinky little bridges crossong yet another chattering brook...
Just outside the other end of Oundle, as we were completing the first loop, I think my body had decided that enough was enough. All had been going well but the constant cold was taking its toll. We all had botox faces and the lack of exercise meant that I was getting slower and slower. Neil hung back to keep me company whilst Chris and Dan were very patient as 'fatty' slogged up the hill.
A quick stop for a glug of something called 'Torque' (cheers Dan) did little to stop the weird light headedness and strobing effect of too high a heart rate and no energy.
Death or glory as I freewheeled back into Oundle to sample a tube of banoffee gunk (cheers Chris!) and most of a malt loaf.
Still not feeling right we slowly trundled out towards Barnwell, cutting off the intended scenic route through Stoke Doyle.
By now I was walking the short hills up to Thurning, again with a very patient Neil (thanks Neil!), thoroughly regretting the bloody tool filled rucksack that I never seem to need...
More energy bars later I see the Alconbury sign and shout rather too loudly, thanking the Maker that I was nearly home.
A quick pee stop and slightly off my head with scientific energy bars/ liquids, I decide to slipstream and the Dan - the Dan never tires. The Dan can go on forever....
So, after about 5 hours of riding and the cold, we arrive back in Alconbury, just in time to greet the missus who hails us with a hearty 'you all look knackered'...
So, it was cold, it was damp, it was knackering, it was cold and it was cold. but, I feel the better for it (I dont, I feel bloody ****!) and thanks to Neil, Chris and Dan, it was a good day out.
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_________________''...There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die...'' ''Life didnt just pass me by, it paused to spit in my face...'''93 GT Zaskar, '74 Norman Fay Tourer/audax, 1984 Raleigh Record Ace, '86 Reynolds 531 'thing' no.2, 1987 Pennine 753, 1992 Saracen Kili e-stay
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