Wind, Wheel Sucking and Withernsea

CRC RIDE 26/03/16 – FORCE 10 FROM WITHERNSEA

On the Easter Bank Holiday weekend the Cottingham Road Club (CRC) ride was going to be a relatively long route in the flatlands to the east of Hull.

A 60 mile loop from Wawne to Withernsea and back and not a hill in sight. Fantastic.

The only time the road was going to kick up was possibly over a sleeping policeman or the odd bridge or flyover.  Bliss.

Maybe on this ride there would be no battling against the forces of nature?

Maybe on this ride there would be no need to push yourself to the limit and beyond?

Maybe on this ride there would be no gobsmackingly huge challenge to overcome?

And,

Maybe on this ride I wouldn’t get dropped

Er…..no.

 

THE WIND

The big challenge on this ride was going to be the wind.

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GEOFF INTO THE TEETH OF THE WIND ( AS VERIFIED BY POSITION OF WINDMILLS )

The forecast was for a strong southerly gusting well over 30mph and possibly touching 40 mph at times.

For sure I would not want to be cycling on a pan flat, featureless and exposed landscape today.

Oh dear.

Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for the wind. It gets a bad rap.

You never hear people complaining about a following wind.

“Jeez that wind was pushing me along at 30 mph and I was hardly trying. My speed was not representative of the effort I was putting in. It was a total nightmare !”

However, a head wind is a monstrous unfairness that preys on innocent and undeserving cyclists.

I am not an expert (surely you must know that by now) but I would have thought that all other things being equal, on a circular route starting and finishing at the same place the overall effect of the wind should be …..nothing.

Nada, zilch, zero ! Mustn’t it ? It must help as much as it hinders.

However, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

THE COURSE

Starting from Wawne we would head down in a broadly southerly direction through Hedon and Paull before bottoming out at Sunk Island. This section of the ride would be into the teeth of the gale.

The Beaufort Scale defines a gale as wind speeds from 39 to 46 mph. Thank you Wikapedia.

So the strongest gusts on the ride would officially just make it into “gale force”.  I’m not just making this stuff up you know,

A dash to the sea side at Withernsea would then follow where we were scheduled to make a coffee stop.

Suitably refreshed we would then head inland and northwards again through Roos, Burton Pidsea, Humbleton and Burton Constable.

Finally a westward track through Skirlaugh would take us back to Wawne.

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

At the meet point at The Waggoners pub in Wawne we had 13 riders. Another good turnout bearing in mind the forecast.

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GETTING READY FOR THE OFF AT THE WAGGONERS

Leaving Wawne we were heading for the Hornsea Rail Trail a footpath and cycleway that follows the route of the old Hull to Hornsea railway. Here we contrived to lose one of our number when John who had gone some distance off the front missed the left turn onto the path.

13 was an unlucky number anyway.

Don’t worry John was OK and doing a 60 miler on his own to Withernsea was character building.

After the Rail Trail we continued on a westward track through Coniston, Thirtleby and Sproatley before we turned south for Preston, Hedon and Paull.

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DEAN ON THE HULL – HORNSEA RAIL TRAIL

Even though we were now travelling south into the head wind I do not recall this section being particularly hard. We were still in an environment where we were getting plenty of protection from buildings, hedges, trees and the like.

Maybe this wind wouldn’t be so bad after all ?

WELCOME TO HELL

That all changed though when we got to Thorngumbald.

Here there was a right turn that re-aligned us again to face more directly into the wind.

The group had split into two and I was in a group of 6 with Gary, Bex, Colin, Martin and Dean. We decided we would press on and then have a regroupment further down the road.

I got on the front with Gary and instantly regretted it.

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EXPOSED , WHERE’S THE COVER ?- TAKING A BEATING FROM THE WIND

There was no protection now and the wind was starting to turn the screws. We were doing 13, 14, 15 mph and my heart rate was going up and up and up,

Holding the drops and getting low over the handlebars reduced my profile being presented to the wind from  enormous to just extremely large. Boy this was hard work.

Very soon the conversation between Gary and I dried up and it was just time to suffer in silence. My suffering was exacerbated by the constant chattering behind me from Colin and Bex.

They didn’t seem to be in any distress at all.

Was this because Gary and I were providing excellent protection from the wind or were they super fit or was I super unfit ?

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COLIN & BEX HAVING A NATTER

Whatever the reason I was beginning to think some very dark thoughts.

I nearly began tutting. But luckily I didn’t go that far.

Up ahead the road was going to bend round a little bit more to the South.

” I’m afraid it’s going to get even worse now ” said Gary

“What, surely not , it can’t get worse than thi …HOLY MOLY !!  ”

There is a point in such conditions where all the snot in your nose is just liquefied instantly.

We had definitely reached the point of instant snot liquification.

It was blowing up onto my glasses, across my cheek, onto my clothes. I tried to wipe my nose to stop it getting airborne.

If the snot went airborne it would hit Gary.

” I think I can feel a few specks of rain ” said Gary

Oh no, the snot was airborne !

“Really ? Let’s hope it holds off ” I said innocently.

15 minutes of this felt like an eternity. It was about to get worse though. To my horror Martin then came through and increased the pace.

Martin
NO MARTIN STOP ! NO ! NOOOOO !

There was no way I could keep up with that. But they wouldn’t just drop me would they ? The gap grew 10, 20, 30 yards.

I was starting to think murderous thoughts. Having done 15 minutes on the front keeping the wind off my ride colleagues my reward for this effort was to be dropped and left to toil alone in a bloody hurricane ( upgraded from gale force now ).

Where had it all gone wrong ? In 15 minutes I had gone from a good natured chap enjoying a bike ride to  a snot splattered madman contemplating murder with a multi-tool.

Motivated by my desire to kill someone I started to close the gap and by the time we reached Stone Creek just before Sunk Island I was back in the group.

Luckily this was where we chose to stop and wait for the second group to catch up. Straight away my dark mood lifted and I was no longer looking to push Colin in the ditch.

THE SHIELD

At Stone Creek we reformed into one big group again and pressed on.

That was not the end of the head winds though. We had another 5 mile section to go  passing through Sunk Island before we would turn for Patrington and get some relief from the wind.

Carol asked if she could get some shelter behind me provided there was no photographic evidence of the wheel sucking. I agreed, my camera wasn’t on at the time but for future reference Carol wheel sucking looks like this.

Carol
CAROL WHEEL SUCKING

It’s nice to be wanted even if it’s just for being large.

Later I was advised that from now on this was my job. It will look good on my CV.

Employer :  Carol

Role :  Human Shield

Reason For Leaving: Rubbish salary and tyrannical boss !

The Missus was also having a tough time in the wind. Time to deploy my shield superpower again and keep her spirits up with some scintillating conversation.

” You do know Annette don’t you ” I started ” that all other things being equal the overall effect of the wind on a circular route starting and stopping at the same place is …..nothing . It’s got to be hasn’t it ? Think about it ”

No response.

“Do you know darling that according to the Beaufort Scale, this wind we are currently experiencing, at it’s worst, is officially gale force. What do you think about that ? ”

Nothing

I tried a new tack.

” Shall we go and watch ” Batman Vs Superman ” this weekend love ? ”

Still no reply. But she did start to look at me in a rather unsettling way.

” Oh come on love it’s Batman……..versus……..Superman ! How cool is that ?! ”

SandraAnnette
SANDRA AND ANNETTE BATTLING THE WIND

She started to speed up but whether this was because I was providing excellent wind shielding or she was trying to catch me so she could kill me I’m not sure.

My work here was done.

SPRINT INTO WITHERNSEA

At Holmpton the road turned northwards for the run in to Withernsea. With the wind now behind us this was the time for anyone after a good Strava segment time to give it the beans.

Step forward Ian.

Ian loves a long straight road and an opportunity, to quote the great David Coleman slightly out of context, ” to open his legs and show his class”.

As we turned onto the Withernsea road at Holmpton I could see that Ian was starting to wind it up ahead.

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IAN AFTER HE HAD STOPPED TRYING – THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY TO GET IN FRONT

He was still on impulse power though and had not quite switched on his warp engine. I had to get up there before he made the jump to light speed.

I was towards the back of the group at the time and had to give it everything I had to catch up to him and sit on his wheel.

My dilithium crystals were now buggered and my warp engines were coughing and spluttering.

There was no chance of me coming through to give Ian some assistance so I wheel sucked for all I was worth.  I am not proud of it.

Sometimes good people do bad things

Just before we got into Withernsea I couldn’t even hold the wheel I was left destroyed in Ian’s wake.

Still, I hoped I could profit from all Ian’s hard work by getting a Personal Record (PR ) on the Holmpton Straight segment when I uploaded to Strava later on.

I was not to be disappointed.

WITHERNSEA COFFEE STOP – WOULD YOU LIKE SOME SAUSAGES WITH YOUR MUSTARD ?

We stopped at a cafe on the promenade at Withernsea for a well earned rest and refuel.

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READY FOR THE OFF AFTER WITHERNSEA COFFEE STOP

Sandra was perplexed as to why we all sat outside in the cold when we could have warmed up inside.

It’s how we roll Sandra.

I ordered a large sausage baguette and was so outraged to be offered french mustard I went way overboard on the english  making my sausages almost inedible.

“Enjoying that dear ? ” asked Annette knowing full well the sausages were burning off the inside of my mouth.

“Absolutely darling, can’t beat english mustard ” I replied with tears in my eyes.

Yes I think I came out of that entire episode with my dignity very much intact.

GEOFF’S CHAIN & LOST IN ROOS

After our coffee stop and availing ourselves of the public loos  we saddled up again for part 2 of “Force 10 From Withernsea”

Just leaving Withernsea though Geoff’s chain snapped. Half the group was up ahead and, unaware of the problem, carried on.

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IT LOOKS TERMINAL DOCTOR

The rest of us stopped to help Geoff or to be more accurate the rest of us stopped to watch Tony and Colin help Geoff.

Looking back on it now it would have been a mistake to kill Colin for dropping me back at Stone Creek. As well as being a very nice chap he does make himself very useful on occasions such as this.

So Colin and Tony did their thing and after trying to fit the wrong size spare links given to them by some numpty they spliced the chain back together again.

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WILL THE PATIENT LIVE ?

Very impressive. I wish I was good with this practical stuff but I’m just not and that’s the way it is.

At least I learned I’ve been carrying the wrong size spare links round with me for months.

Once Geoff was back on the road…we were all back on the road and we bombed it out of Withernsea trying to make contact again with the other half of the group.

We were cycling for some time before we realised that actually we were off the course and didn’t know where we where or where we were going.

Not a very good state of affairs.

So we  pulled over in Roos to try and remedy the situation.

Lost
LOST IN ROOS

I looked at my Garmin GPS device. No help , it just told me I was off the course.

Tony looked at his smart phone, 3G access to the internet with google turn by turn directions. No help.

Colin rummaged around in his saddle bag and brought out a crumpled piece of paper with a few lines drawn on it.

‘This” he said ” is something called…… a map ! ”

A map ? Can you get WiFi or 3G on that ? Does it talk to a satellite in geostationary orbit ? Where do you put the batteries ?

“There should be a left turn up here that will take us to Burton Pidsea and get us back on the route” said Colin.

Sure enough we took the turn and after a short while my Garmin gave the little trill sound to say we were back on the course.

Thanks for nothing Garmin. You just had your ass kicked by a crumpled bit of paper with some lines drawn on it.

THE LAST LEG

On the road to  Burton Pidsea we made contact with the rest of the group that had gone on ahead when Geoff had his mechanical.

Now we were all back as one group.

After Burton Pidsea the route took us on a north western trajectory through Humbleton, up past Burton Constable, West Newton and Marton.

TonySandra
TONY AND SANDRA

The wind was more or less behind us on this run and all was well with the world.

Without a purpose as a wind shield I engaged Sandra in some of my stimulating conversation. She was out to break her personal longest ride distance today. Maybe she needed some interesting chit chat to keep her spirits up?

“Those public toilets in Withernsea are pretty good aren’t they Sandra ?”

“Yes they are Alan”

“I mean some of them can be in a horrible state can’t they? But those ones in Withernsea are some of the best I’ve ever seen”

“Yes Alan”

Her pace increased considerably after this and it was quite difficult for me to keep up.

There’s no need to thank me Sandra.

After Marton the ride was on a westward track through Skirlaugh and was therefore catching a significant cross wind.

Echelon
SHALL WE ECHELON UP ?!

I wanted to repeat the coolest thing I’ve ever had said to me on a bike, which was by Chris H, namely

” Let’s echelon up ! ”

But I didn’t think I could pull it off. Imagine the reaction of my ride colleagues….

“Let’s what ?! ”

Finally the ride finished off with a sting in the tail as we took a southerly route back into the wind to arrive back in Wawne.

Luckily this section was short enough not to see a re-appearance of my homicidal tendencies which, let’s face it,  is not a very attractive quality.

Yet another memorable ride with Cottingham Road Club.

THE STRAVA UPLOAD

When I got home, I uploaded the ride to Strava.

I was hoping for a PR for doing all that wheel sucking behind Ian on the sprint into Withernsea.

Rarely do I get  “All-Time” top ten cups for segments on Strava.

In fact I maybe have 2 and one of them is a back road near my house that hardly anybody goes on.

On the Holmpton Straight however I had got 3rd fastest ever.

Even more amazingly I was 1 second faster than Ian !

Now I can retire. I can achieve nothing more in the sport.

Strava

This is of course totally unjust to Ian who did all the hard work dragging my sorry ass behind him…..Loser !

Ian was very gracious on social media afterwards. He said my achievement was Wonderful, Tremendous and Fantastic.

Although he used one of those social media acronyms……WTF !!

Isn’t that nice of him ? That is so nice.


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