Sunday, 26 May 2013

Chasing The Sun!

Hello Blog Lovers.

This blog is a little behind schedule and there is a perfectly good explanation for that, and it is because I was too tired to write it up yesterday, after I had finished a ride that I started on Friday night! Thats right, its FNRttC again!

You would think being as it supposed to be summer time (and someone did say in the group that the longest day is due shortly) that the warm weather would be here! But there we all were, just as the last time I did a Friday ride, all wrapped up, hats, gloves, and buffs with waterproofs secreted about in various pockets. Some even wearing theirs.

1. Hyde Park Corner - The Gathering

I was excited about the nights ride, I do like having a challenge to do, and I remember the last time I did this particular ride I didn't feel well, but I  managed to keep up with everyone. But this night I was feeling good and very confident.  I was also on my new wheels.  The first long ride for my beautiful pink bike, I know she will do me well!  (Sorry I called her she again!)  The Old Boy was also taking out his new bike as well, give them a good test run.

We met Big E along the A21 and then we all made our way to Hyde Park Corner. There seemed to be a ton of traffic about and it also seemed that we got caught up at every set of traffic lights! I am sure it took us longer to get to HPC than it had done before! But still, we arrived there about 11:30, plenty of time to catch breath, catch up with chit chat and join in with the safety talk by Captain Leggy.

There were about 60 or more crazy souls prepared to cycle to Burnham-on-Crouch, our destination for breakfast! There was a least a dozen newbies on the ride and quite a few faces that I remember from the other rides I had been on, Mice, and Susie and Long Martin are just some of the names that I can remember.  In this day of equality Susie was designated as our 'All up woman' and the tail end Charlies, Mechanics and WayFinders were all given their roles, all very important roles to keep the ride moving as smoothly as possible.

We soon had the call for the 'off'. The excited chatting group of cyclists, hunched up at the side of the road, ready to cross and leave HPC. The lights were green for us, a Wayfinder stood in the front of the traffic to make sure that we all crossed this first set of lights together, after that, we all obeyed the highway code, just as all other road users.   We snaked our way through the traffic,  passing our great tourist attractions, Big Ben beging one of them.  I recalled the last time I was passing Big Ben, it was on April 21st, as I ran/walked towards it, 3 miles left to do of my very first marathon! I big smile came to my face as I remembered.

Heading down the embankment I noticed some young girls, who obviously had been out partying or maybe even on their way to another one, three of them had flat shoes on but one didn't. This one in particular had a very high pair of stilettos on, "I bet she wished she had flats with her now" I thought to myself" Just then I watched her as she took a step, her heel didn't quite make a straight landing and I saw as her ankle twisted.  She fell over, her bag spilling on the pavement as her friends quickly came to her aid. Yup, I really think she wished for some flats heels now! 

We carried on our way through the streets of London stopping for a regroup near the Tower of London. The Old Boy pointed out the pub that he and the rest of my family had been in while waiting for me to come pass at mile 22. Again another smile came to me as I recalled that moment I saw them all, 18 of them! A great and welcoming sight they were too!

We weaved our way through the traffic, stopping to regroup one or two more times, we had use of the mechanics today as a puncture was fixed before we even got out of London.  I do love riding through London at this time of night! Just for the people watching!  'Gents' having intelligent  (beer fueled) conversations over the last cigarette of the evening, with fingers drawn! Girls tottering out on the high heels! Will we ever learn!

Going through Essex was just as interesting! The night life there just as bustling.  A young lady, again, in high heels, was having difficulty walking, her young man very sweetly took off his trainers and gave them to the young lady to walk home in, he walked in his socked feet!  (I didn't actually see this, it was retold to me at our Stock stop). Another group of very young looking girls, walking through our throng of bikes as we stood waiting for the regroup, talking about some young lads and the f's and blinds' coming from their innocent looking faces, just didn't fit! So very Essesx!

I was determined not to be the last one that holds up the ride, over taking some of the group to make sure.  I was most pleased with myself when I actually overtook some one on a flyover! And not on the decline side either!  It felt good to actually do that manoeuvre!  But there was no time for patting on the back, there was still plenty of miles to go.  I was determined this time I will see the sun rise in His glorious splendour, over the trees!

It seemed quite a fast paced ride, not quite the genteel ride as it was the first time I went on one of these rides, or maybe, I was just tired. I know I hadn't been in the saddle as much as I would  have liked to, but I have done a couple of long rides to help me prepare, I hoped they will hold me in good stead!

I was concentrating on keeping up with everybody, not being the last in the group, I hardly noticed the transition from town to countryside! It was just so peaceful. Shooshing through the lanes, enjoying the peace, the traffic free roads, and if by chance there were any cars about at this time in the morning then you could hear the calls of the Fridays, "Car up" or Car down" everyone was well briefed and kept to the safety instructions, pointing out "Hole" as they spotted them. The winter had taken it's toll on our roads, that was for certain!

I started to develop problems with my hand! Weakness, numbness! Trying to change gear was getting very difficult! Thankfully I was able to pull the brakes on with no problem!  I pedalled out going down some hills, changed gear to the big cog so I didn't lose momentum, Then changed again with difficulty to the middle cog.
2. The Moon was full!

But then I came up hill, I tried to stay in the middle gear, it was just too hard. I pushed over to the small cog to get me up the hill, I only just managed it as my fingers buckled from the pressure! What was going on!  I was getting a bit concerned.   When we got up the hill I tried to change back to the middle cog and found that I couldn't do it!  I really had to concentrate hard and push it as hard as I could to get back to the middle gear.  This time I will stay in the middle cog! My right hand had no problems, and thank goodness for that!

We were having a stop for tea at Stock, the Tully family very kindly opened up the scout hall for tea, cakes and savoury roles! And the muffins! Oh what can I say about the muffins! "You can fit at least 20 candles on these" the Old Boy said when he saw them!  I was very glad of the rest, and the warmth!  At least this time round getting to this point I didn't cry, or puke up! But I wasn't feeling too well! Maybe that will pass after something to eat, and a nice cup of tea!

There was a good buzz in the room, people chatting, taking pictures, eating and saying hello to everyone. One chap was fixing his bike after a puncture, it seems this trip has had a few victims to the dreaded puncture!  I helped the Old Boy see off the giant sized muffin and I managed to eat a roll.  The Old Boy managed about the same as me, and we both had two cups of tea.  Big E was his usual self, devouring two rolls, huge muffin and two teas!  How does he do it?!
3. Stock tea stop.

As we sat in the room I looked out of the window! The sky was getting lighter, the sun will be making an appearance soon!  Time to go. Captain Leggy gave the orders, he thanked the Tully family for being up at silly o'clock in the morning to deal with the ravenous cyclists crazy enough to cycle from London to the sea side over night, and we wrapped up and said our goodbyes.  The money raised from the proceeds of our feast will be going to their new changing rooms I believe!

Now it's time to chase the sun! I want to see it rise, show its glorious splendour in the morning sky! I have yet to see a magnificent sun rise, the other times it was cloudy, or we were stuck in a motorway services keeping dry while the heavens opened!  My hand, however, didn't get any better with the rest! I really didn't think it would! I was just going to have to do the rest of the ride in middle gear, at least I still had the right hand side gears to get me up and down the undulations that I knew were to come.

The midway snack and tea was very unsettled in my tummy! I hoped that it will stay there!  This ride seemed to be taking it's toll on me. I was wondering if I am just not cut out for the long haul, no sleep, cold weather crazy rides with the Fridays.  All though I was keeping up, and I wasn't at the back with the tailend Charlies and All up Guy, I was finding it tough going.  Speeding along,  as it seemed to me anyway, I was concentrating on my legs to keep them spinning all the time!  My new pedals were beginning to really annoy me as well, the whole 'dual use' thing is the most annoying thing, ever! I couldn't clip into the left foot! Looking down to try and spin the pedal was not an option anymore, as I really needed to concentrate on just moving with the flow.  I think now I have cut my teeth with the clippies I need to invest in the 'real thing'.

The WayFinders marked our route as we turned left and right, heading towards the rising sun. When I saw it, it was just beautiful! An orange orb bobbing up from the horizon turning the sky red.  I wished I had enough energy to stop and take my phone out to take some pictures, but all I wanted to do was to keep on going to our next stop!  I am sure there will be the front riders who will stop and take pictures, maybe I can post them up when I speak to them.

4. Stunning picture of the rising sun!
As you can see, I did speak to Mice! She chased down the sun and captured this beautiful picture, with the "wisps of clouds, like christmas dectorations" as she said.

We took another right turn to face a huge mountain! Well it certainly looked like a huge mountain to me, I just knew there was no way I would be cycling up this hill, I am sure there was also another hill that I walked up, or maybe I am jumping the gun at bit, but I know there were two hills that I walked up. But this particular one the Old Boy said that he had a puncture.  Boy, was I glad about that! I nice rest before I even walked up the hill!  As he started to change his inner tube, I suddenly didn't feel very well at all.  I just knew that the roll and half muffin I had eaten was not going to go to Burnham!  As the Old Boy changed his tyre I was chucking up chunks in the greenery!

5. Me and the Old Boy

I told the Old Boy that I would start to walk up the hill.  The back riders had still not caught up with us and I really didn't want to be at the very back.  I walked up the hill, looking at the sun as it rose colourfully in the sky! I was soon at the top. Back on my bike I started to ride along. This time I was by myself. There was no one in front, no one behind, not a sound of cars or aeroplanes to be heard, only the wooshing of the air as I flew down the slight hill.  A sparrow started to fly just in front of me, it felt as if we were having a race. I pretended that we were as I pedalled just a little bit harder to try and catch up with it! Of course, even the sparrow was faster than me. He was probably just teasing this Old Girl.  It seemed ages before I heard the Old Boy behind me "You did quite well getting this far" he said to me.

Just a little further on, after the various WayFinders pointed us in the right direction we came across the main group. They had waited for us.  I started to ride a bit faster,  The Old Boy and Big E were behind me, both of them with their Garmins, and of course both of them commented on the speed I was going! I am so going to have to get one of those.  I deliberately left my one behind, as I just knew I would forget to turn it off and on again, and it really does annoy me when I have just half a journey to log. 

Just then some of the tailenders came up and spoke to Big E "I had a puncture, I wanted to catch you up and then do a fast bit of pedalling into Burnham for breakfast" He said. And with that they rode off.  They looked as if they were just poodling along, no effort, but I had no chance to keep up with them!
A very quiet sleepy Burnham! Hope the cafe is ready for us!

Burnham-on-Crouch sign stood proudly boasting its name! I had made it! And I wasn't the last one behind, ok, so I wasn't in the front runners, but I had made it.  Tired, completely dodgy hand, but feeling good that I was there! I saw the sun rise and raced a sparrow. I rode along with 60 or so people and I rode along in complete silence by myself! The rain stayed away for 95 percent of the ride, only rained on the way to HPC.  And I felt the warmth of the sun as I rode towards it, warming up my cold bones.  It's just so good to be able to do this!

This is me trying to make myself look glamourous before the Old Boy took another unflattering photo of me!
7.. Breakfast at Burnham-on-Crouch

After breakfast though it was time to make our way back home. Three option were given to us, or for some, four options!
  1. Get a train from Burnham, then change and get another train to London
  2. Ride another 17 miles to Witham and then get a train from there direct to London.
  3. Get on the ferry and ride to Hockly or Rochford.
  4. Ride all the back home (And believe me, there were a few certifiable's doing this option)
I opted for option 3.  It's fun to go by ferry.  And it was only another 6 miles riding to get to the station.  A newbie to the Friday rides was also taking this option, and she asked if we were going to be going fast! Me! Fast, after all those miles, no sleep and a completely dodgy hand, no, fast is out of the equation.  But maybe I should have asked her that same question though, as she was quite speedy as she led the way to Hockley using her IPhone maps to get us there.
8. First boat load of intrepid cyclists.

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Photos 1, 2, 4 and 5 and the very top one curtesy of Mice, a regular Friday nighter, and doing her part as Way Finder and photographer!  Read her blog here

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