Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mold-y Old Dough

...post so named because of the fiver in my pocket that was a bit damp by the time we got back to Yr Wyddgrug yesterday, the start and finish of our 80 mile ride.

It was the first, and possibly, though hopefully not, last preparatory ride as a complete unit for our London to Paris expedition at the start of September.  So, Andy, Dylan, Neil and I set out from said north Walian town at 0800 hours for our anti-clockwise circuit of the north-eastern part of the Principality and and the western fringes of Cheshire.

And man it was hot for the first 4 hours or so.  None of us had temperature gauges on us, but it was 21c when we left and must have been 28ish at its lunchtime peak.  Thereafter the clouds came over, the wind strengthened and there were a few spots of rain.  I preferred the former, but suspect my riding colleagues were with the latter.  For me though it was a treat of the largest proportions to be able to descend the Horseshoe Pass into Llangollen with no gilet, no arm warmers, a thin top, 70 km/h on the computer and total comfort.  Wonderful, and for a few glorious minutes redolent of a Pyrenean descent, the common characteristics being little traffic (yesterday at least), and a switchback which means you can see the full glory of what's about to happen.

To both give you a vague feel for the geography of the ride and its highlights, the Mold to Horseshoe Pass section was followed by the questionable delights of Wrexham, Bangor-on-Dee and its cobbled, single track bridge over the eponymous river, Malpas, the dual castles of Peckforton (recently extensively damaged by firestarting Scouse bridegroom) and Beeston, and the twin prettinesses that are Farndon and Holt.  Roadkill of the day was undoubtedly rabbit, and we were treated to the sight of a plucky magpie trying to scare off a buzzard from its carrion, to which the buzzard responded by trying to take off with said dead wabbit in its talons.  The mapgpie had the last laugh though, because the buzzard dropped it, and after we passed by, the magpie moved in for the post-kill.

I think we learned quite a lot from the day, both collectively and individually.  I'm sure the boys will be putting their individual reflections on our La Manche blog, but for me I think the biggest thing is that we need to put a bit more effort into riding at close quarters.  Yesterday we had the luxury of quiet roads and a relatively uncomplicated route, and whilst those things will hold true for our riding through the bulk of France, they most definitely won't in the the mean streets of London and Paris.  There, one wrong turning could mean untold angst in the act of re-grouping, and ironically our London and Paris days are precisely the two where we actually have some time pressures, and can't afford to muck around unnecessarily.  But riding at close quarters takes discipline and skill, particularly with panniers.  I also need to 'learn' the routes as far as possible, so I can concentrate on the group and road signs, rather than looking at my directions.  It's going to be a genuine challenge.

Other than that, things were fairly straightforward.  For someone who'd never previously ridden more than 42 miles Dylan coped admirably with 80.  Neil apparently cruised through the whole ride, and Andy showed glimpses of the form that made him a fearsome triathlete.  It all augurs well.  And if we eat on our ride as well as we did on our return Chez Hallworth, we'll have good and plentiful fuel on board.

Not sure about the next blog, as I leave on Sunday to go TdF watching.  Haven't been as excited about anything since we actually took delivery of the house in Brittany last year, and it's reminiscent of that pre-Christmas feeling you get as a 7 year old.  How sad's that?  So, if there's not on up by Sunday pm, it'll be the following weekend.

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