One of the best things about cycling are the people that you meet. They tend to be a friendly, helpful bunch and riding in a group with others has become a really enjoyable pastime in my retirement. And so, when I received an invitation to ride with the Shifnall Cycling Society on their Summer Social Ride I was delighted; but a bit apprehensive as well.
' Not to worry ', Andrew said, ' we wont be travelling at more that 20kph and the route that I have in mind is mostly flat' ( I should not be writing this next bit but I will ! ) ' Besides, some of the ladies will be with us and that will keep everything slower' ( No more chocalate cookies for you Andrew! )
On reflection I should have known better I suppose. Half the group had been training in the Alps the previous week, climbing the Col du Telegraphe before proceeding to the 2645m summit of the Col du Galibier and then onto the Col du Lautaret, never more than 4 Cols per day they said modestly. Not all of them had been to the Alps, some had remained behind to train for triathalons and cross country events, indded a fair few had been out running prior to joining to-day's ride.
With thighs of a size that would have made even Chris Hoy tremble with fear ( not the ladies I hasten to add, they were more Lizzie Armitage shape ) these lean , mean racing machines were ready to roll.
I was at least 25 years older than the eldest member of this peleton and my legs were beginning to shake with the fear of what was to come.
As our group assembled in the glorious sunshine
Wiggins, Froome, Cavendish and the rest of the TdF were leaving on their triumphal ride to Paris.
It is worth noting here the similarities between our peleton and that of the TdF; with the exception of myself, none of the other riders' bikes had mudguards and large saddle bags stuffed with the essential cycling accessopries such as cake! My Thursday CTC veteran crew would not have approved!
And so we rode, undulating would be a better description that flat but the maximum gradient was never more than 8%. There are some beautiful villages in this part of the world as we sped through Shropshire ans crossed into Staffordshire. The lanes were packed with cyclists ranging from the road warriors in their matching lycra gear to leisure cyclists out enjoying the summer sun, indeed I waslucky enough to meet another Mercian devotee who had loving assembled his machine.
The total ride was around 63km with an ascent of 620m and so Andrew had been true to his word and kept it well within my scope. My average heart rate at 141bpm with am peak at 162 was at continuous race effort for me but led to a wonderful and joyous day.
A big thanks to all at Shifnall Cycling Society for giving me such a warm and generous welcome.
I amn really enjoying travelling to meet and ride with other cycling groups but perhaps with my limited capabilities I should stick to those who travel at a more sedate place. I fear that I am holding these youngsters back.