I Spy, Thunderbolts And Hedgehogs

CRC CHARITY RIDE -24/06/16

REMAIN or LEAVE ?  This was the big question that had been occupying my thoughts for many weeks if not months.

Constantly mulling it over in my mind. I had lost a lot of sleep.

It certainly felt like one of the biggest decisions of my life and I couldn’t afford to get it wrong.

If I went for REMAIN would I be taken into unchartered territory by a larger group led by an unelected cabal ? Would my wishes for the direction of travel be diluted and diminished, drowned out  by many other opinions and agendas?

If I went for LEAVE and took back control of my destination would it effect my relationship with the others for ever ? Would I be shunned, unable to work with them anymore, cast out , isolated ?

This year’s Cottingham Road Club ( CRC ) charity bike ride was going to be laps of a 40 mile circuit for 24 hours non-stop. Each member could choose how many laps they were prepared to take on.

At the end of every lap I would be faced with the critical decision regarding doing another lap. Shall I REMAIN or LEAVE ?

What ?……..What else did you think I was talking about ?!

 

THE EVENT


A 40 mile circuit had been put together with the start/finish point based at Hull Ionians Rugby Club ( full name  “Hull Ionians Rugby Club Some Day I’ll Watch A Game There ” )

From there the route would go through Ellerker, to South Cave and North Cave. Turning right at Newport we would then wend our way over to Eastrington before swerving past Howden and heading straight for the River Ouse at Skelton.  Then the familiar path in the lowlands around The Ouse of Saltmarshe, Yokefleet, Blacktoft and Faxfleet.

A big inverted “U” shape would follow up to Newport and then back down to Broomfleet. I know an inverted “U” is a lower case “N” but I couldn’t say ” a big lower case N ” could I ?

From Broomfleet there would be a return to Ellerker and back round to Elloughton and the rugby club.

40 miles exactly and not completely flat either.

There would be some mountainous climbs.

Col De Bridge Over A63 ( 3 of them ),  Col De Bridge Over M62 Near Newport and Col De Bridge Over M62 In The Vicinity Of Howden.

….OK it was a completely flat ride.

THE START
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THE NIGHT SHIFT – COMMITTED, DEDICATED, DETERMINED …..AND A BIT CRAZY

The ride was going to be split up into 8 , 3 hour segments.

In a 3 hour segment a lap could be completed (hopefully) and still afford a little time for a break before starting the next lap.

The first lap was to start at 9 pm and there would be 3 laps to complete overnight The night shift on these events are normally manned by the most committed, enthusiastic and determined club members…..yes they are a bit crazy as well !

They tend to regard this type of thing as “fun”.

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BILL & MARK PREPARING FOR THE OFF

This year I was not in this category choosing to start at the still ungodly hour of 6 am. However I did show up to offer encouragement, wave them off and take photographs of the grand depart.

Spirits and morale were high. Chris was wearing his new helmet and was looking very pleased with it.

” I’m very pleased with it ” he said. There I told you.

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CHRIS IS VERY PLEASED WITH HIS NEW HELMET

There was a desire to get away at 9 pm prompt not helped by the official photographer turning up with 5 minutes to go and then bossing everyone around about where to stand. Just take the picture Adam !

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JUST TAKE THE PHOTO ADAM !!

And so at 21:03 hours ( thanks Adam ! ) the team rolled out to begin the 2016 CRC Charity Ride.

…..I went home to bed.

LAP 1 – CLOSE SHAVE WITH A GARMIN & ANYONE SEEN RICH ?

I returned to Hull Ionians Rugby Club at 5.45 am the next morning to get ready to start my first lap and welcome the night shift home.

They duly arrived with big cheesy grins on their faces.

The weather had been kind and there were minimal mechanical issues with just two punctures.  One of the punctures was the result of swerving to avoid a hedgehog in the road and hitting a pot hole instead.

Don’t worry the hedgehog was OK……physically. But he nearly became road quill.

( Yes I know it’s porcupines that have quills but you try thinking of a clean hedgehog related pun ! )

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BLOODY CYCLISTS !! WHY DON’T YOU LOOK WHERE YOU’RE GOING ?!!

120 miles covered. Well done indeed. Fantastic effort.

Chris was going to carry on and do another lap to bring up 160 miles and Rich, who had started at midnight, was also going to carry on to bring up a personal record for him of 120. Inspiring stuff.

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JOHN AND GEOFF PREPARING FOR 6 am START

I looked down at my Garmin which read zero miles covered. Gulp !

So at 6am we set off with a bunch of fresh riders….. and Chris and Rich.

The plan was to take it steady, a much abused phrase normally heard before extremely hard rides. But this time steady really had to mean steady. A 15 mph average was the target to get us round without trying too hard yet give us time for a break before the next lap.

So obsessed was I with the 15 mph average  that after 3 years of using my Garmin cycling computer I had finally figured out how to show the average speed on the display.

When I told Justin this he was very keen for me show him how to do it as he had a similar device. Perhaps it wasn’t a such a good idea to try and do this on the move.

“Go into the menu Justin”

“OK”

“Settings/Bike Settings/Data Fields …. ”

“OK”

“Car”

“Car ?….. I can’t see anything saying ….CAR!! Oh SHI….!!!”

That was a close shave but we got away with it and  Justin ended up with average speed on his Garmin. He was well chuffed.

He now owes me big time and at some point in the future I will ask him to assassinate my nemesis whilst I establish my alibi elsewhere.

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JUSTIN AT THE FRONT ….YOU OWE ME !

Towards the end of the first lap we kind of mislaid Rich. As we waited at a the train crossing just before Broomfleet there was no sign of him.

“Where’s Rich ? ”

“Oh he stopped for some food ” someone said.

Like a general accepting there will be casualties in war but with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek Gary declared

“Ah well you are bound to lose a few aren’t you !? ”

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LAP 1 – TRAIN CROSSING NEAR BROOMFLEET….WHERE’S RICH ?

When we got back to the rugby club at the end of my first lap, Rich rolled in about 10 minutes later.

” I thought we’d lost you ” I said to Rich

“What do you mean you thought you lost me…you DID lose me ! ”

LAP 2 – KARMA & A GAME OF I SPY

My second lap was going to start at 9 am which today was acting as the official weekend club ride.

There was a large number of riders ready to go for this one and after yet another group photo we were off.

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THE START OF THE 9 am LAP – OFFICIAL CLUB RIDE

Just after North Cave something fell off someone’s bike and a number of riders stopped to retrieve it whilst the rest of us carried on.

Eventually we pulled over to wait for the riders we had lost.

“Who is it ? ” I asked.

“Gary I think” came the reply followed by a mischievous  ” Well …..you’re bound to lose a few aren’t you !! ”

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WAITING FOR MISSING RIDERS – “WELL YOU’RE BOUND TO LOSE A FEW !! “

As the lap progressed I was finding that my biggest problem was boredom. Taking it really steady was fine as far as conserving energy was concerned but this was an unusual state of affairs.

Normally I am concentrating on trying to keep up, pain and suffering.

So I had to fall back on my social skills to keep me occupied. Yes things were that bad. I was being reasonably sociable but I am not a natural chatterbox.

My colleagues were also metaphorically scraping the bottom of the conversational barrel.

” I am telling you that all HP sauce is made in the Netherlands ! ”

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STEVE – MASTER OF “I SPY” CEREMONIES

Gamely Steve tried to initiate a game of I Spy.

” I spy with my little eye something beginning with…..P ”

“Pylon”

“Correct”

I resolved on the next lap to go a little faster.

LAP 3 – A BIT FASTER AND A LIPPY SIGNALMAN

At this point I was beginning to waiver on the great REMAIN and LEAVE question. Foolishly I had let it be known that my target was 4 laps and 160 miles.

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TOTALLY UP FOR ANOTHER 2 LAPS

But I was beginning to think that maybe after 3 laps I would call it a day. That was until I ran into Justin at the rugby club.

He had just had a 3 hour break  and was full of beans to go again.

“How many laps are you doing Alan ?”

“Well….I’ve kinda said I’d do 4 ” I said in a slippery weasel like fashion hoping he would drop the subject.

” Oh that’s excellent I am up for another 2, let’s do them together that will be great stick with me pal !!”

Damn his enthusiasm, vim and vigour. Looked like I was locked into another 2 laps.

There was more enthusiasm joining us with Colin starting his first lap and targeting going from 12 noon to the end of the event.

Even if I had a serious mechanical I could not get out of these last 2 laps now as Colin and Justin would just fix it…..enthusiastically……damn them !

My 3rd lap started at 12 noon and we stepped the pace up a little bit.

I also noticed that the wind was starting to get up a little on this lap making it harder particularly on the stretch into Eastrington.

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3RD LAP – MOVING A BIT FASTER ON THIS ONE

Parts of me were starting to ache now particularly my derriere and bizarrely my feet.

Having gone through Faxfleet on the inverted “U ” section of the ride we came to a train crossing that was closed.

Through an open window in the signal box we could hear the signal man laughing and joking on the phone. I couldn’t quite pick up what he was talking about but let’s just say it definitely wasn’t work related.

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DESPITE APPEARANCES THESE GUYS ARE SEETHING AT BEING HELD UP AT THIS TRAIN CROSSING

In true British style we grumbled under our breath loud enough for us to say that we grumbled but not loud enough for the guy to actually hear us.

I was just about to go for the nuclear option, audible tutting, when he appeared at the window

“Just waiting for another train to come through lads won’t be long now ! ”

“Ok thank you very much ! ”

That showed him.  He won’t be on personal calls again in work time !

LAP 4 – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE

On returning to the rugby club at the end of the 12 noon lap we ran into Tracey and Steve T who had decided at the last minute to come over and do a lap with us.

They were most welcome as was the fact that the 3 pm lap was going to be my last one.  There was no way I was going to do another one after this one. 160 miles was more than enough. The dream of 200 miles would have to remain just that …a dream.

Before we started there was time for yet another start of ride group photograph

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THE LAST LAP – THE FINAL START OF RIDE GROUP PHOTO !

Tracey and Steve offered to go in front for the first few miles an offer we gladly accepted and with their fresh legs they set off at a rather vigorous pace.

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FINAL LAP – PACE A BIT MORE VIGOROUS !

This kind of set the tone for the last lap. It was going to be by far the fastest lap for me. Worryingly John was saying things like

“Do you know the longer this ride goes on the better I am feeling ”

As we hit the straight run into Eastrington again the head wind was well up now making it really hard work.

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STORM CLOUDS GATHERING

The weather was starting to deteriorate. Looking to the skies the storm clouds were gathering.

For some time we seemed to be in a corridor between these dark and angry looking clouds dodging the rain and listening to the far off rumbles of thunder.

Would we be lucky and be able to skirt the worst of it before getting back to the rugby club ? …….No.

We felt the first drops of rain on the inverted “U ” section just after Faxfleet.  We stopped to put rain gear on normally the trigger for rain to stop and the sun to come out….not this time.

I looked down at the Garmin, there were 12 miles to go.

By the time we got to Newport it was chucking it down. The kind of rain where large pools of water and running streams form on the road very quickly.

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STEVE LOVING IT IN THE POURING RAIN

We turned right after Newport to begin going down the straight towards Broomfleet. To add to the deluge,  bolts of lightning were now coming down with increasing frequency on either side of the road.

There was a decision to make.

Shall we seek shelter or cut the route short to reduce the risk of instant death by a million volts discharging to earth through our frail human bodies ?

Or shall we carry on doing the full route because we were on a good time and a personal best distance ?

Carry on and full route it was.

Only after the ride when I looked at my GoPro footage did I notice that we were cycling in thunder and lightning under high voltage power lines. What could possibly go wrong ?!

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CYCLING IN THUNDER AND LIGHTNING UNDER HIGH VOLTAGE POWER LINES…….WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG ?!

The only acknowledgement of the the peril we were in was when a bolt of lightning touched down nearby there was a collective

” Oooooohh that’s a big one ! ” from the group.

Still it certainly had a beneficial effect on the speed of the ride which from that point on I would characterise as “urgent”.

I was soaked through to the bone and could feel the water squelching around inside my cycling shoes.

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IF YOU THINK YOU’RE WET NOW JOHN JUST HANG ON A BIT !

You wouldn’t have thought we could get any wetter but John had a go.

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time a car sped through a large section of standing water, flicking a wave of dirty, cold, horrible water all over him.

It was just as well that there was only a mile to go and within a few minutes we had all made it back safely to the rugby club.

Time to dry off.

For me the ride was over and what a ride it had been !

RAIN STOPPED PLAY

In fact at that point the ride was over for everyone. Whilst there was still one more circuit on the schedule a very sensible decision was made to call a halt to proceedings there.

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JUSTIN NEARLY BACK AT THE RUGBY CLUB

Colin on learning he would be deprived of another 40 miles in these conditions was absolutely gutted.

Despite being cut short by one lap, it had been a very successful event.

Many people had pushed their longest ride personal bests up to stratospheric levels.  A number of 200 mile plus rides were posted.

But whatever the distance covered people could feel justly proud of their efforts and money raised for deserving causes.

For me now there was only one thing on my mind. I wanted….I needed ……..a pint of beer !

Justin and I paid a visit to the Half Moon pub in Elloughton and lined up a couple of beers on the bar.

“So Justin, how did that average speed work out for you today ? ”

“Oh great I’ve been wanting to put that on for ages”

“Glad to hear it mate ……you know Justin, I’ve been having a lot of problems with my boss at work recently, I was wondering if you could do me a favour ……….”


The 2016 Cottingham Road Club Charity Ride is raising money for 

  • EMMAUS a homelessness charity
  • BEACH HOLME TANDEM CLUB – giving blind back riders the opportunity to experience the pleasures of cycling.

If you would like to make a donation please click on the link below

CRC CHARITY RIDE JUST GIVING PAGE