Great North Bike Ride . . . x2
This weekend I was supposed to be doing the Coast to Coast. But unfortunately my training buddy had to go to Luxembourg for the week.
So Tall Robbie and I did the Great North Bike Ride instead. I was really impressed that he was allowed out to play for this, as it was his wedding anniversary. I suspect that he’ll be paying for this for most of the next year though . . .
ANYWAY, the thing with the Great North Bike Ride is that it finishes in Tynemouth - just a mile or so down the road from our house, while the start’s at Seahouses - just over 50 miles up the coast. Hmmmm how to get to the start line?
Load our bikes on the back of a lorry, while we took the coach? After our experience getting home from Dunwich this year, I don’t think I could face that.
How about asking Mrs Tall Robbie to put our bikes on the roof of the car, and drive us to the start line. We’d only have to leave at about 7 am . . . and she could probably find a lawyer to draft the divorce papers on the way back. Maybe not then.
I rode Byron, with a small pair of pannier bags to hold the inevitable waterproofs, tools, fuel (bagels with banana & peanut butter, plus flapjacks baked by Wife) and fluids. I reckoned for about 2 litres each way, with opportunities to fill up only on the return trip. Robbie had a similar pack of fuel, but on his back in a rucksack.
The ride out was fabulous - we set off at 6:45, just before sunrise on what was obviously a perfect riding day - cool, bright, and no wind to speak of. After 15 miles we stopped briefly, and saw a trio of roadies who were obvioulsy on the same plan as us come zipping past. We briefly gave chase, but they turned off onto an alternative (shorter) route north, so we let them go, and stuck to the official route.
Then just as we’d finished our second stop (hmmmmm flapjacks!), they came past again. I wasn’t sure if they’d got lost, or had been taking it easy, but either way, I gave ‘em a cheery, "Hello again" as they came past. A couple of minutes later, we saddled up, and set off to see if we could catch them . . . which we did on the way into Amble, where they’d stopped for some scoff too.
So we carried on towards Warkworth just a mile or so down the road. There’s a steep little hill on the way up into the village, and that took the wind a little out of my fixed-wheel riding . . . and sure enough, near the top, our three roadie friends came steaming past.
I can’t have that.
So on the hill out the other side of the village (not so steep at all), we latched onto the back of the group. The trouble was though, they seemed to be going rather slow - slower in fact than our average speed for the last 35 miles. I dropped back alongside Robbie and asked if we should just pass them again. He wisely pointed out that one of these guys had shaved, champagne-flute shaped legs, we had another 70 miles to go, and that starting a race would probably end in tears. After a couple of miles they started to pick up the pace again (maybe catching us had been harder work than they were letting on . . .?), as we let ‘em go.
The last few miles to Seahouses were done without the aid of the map - we just followed the trail of bikes on the back of cars. Our average speed for the first 50 miles was 17.7mph.
There were over two thousand cyclists taking part in the event, so Seahouses was pretty much full of bikes. It’s not a race though, and the official start time of 9 am seems to be more of a guide than a rule. So after some more to eat, and replenishing our supplies of fluids, we set off again. There were more riders than road space for the first few miles, but pretty soon we’d worked our way through the field (lots of mountain bikes, a few folders, and one four-seater tandem) and had settled in to an easy rhythm with a bunch of roadies. The pace was quick, but not painful, and it was good to be riding and chatting.
An hour into the return trip, we had to stop to swap out bottles, take a pee, eat some more, and for me to fix Byron’s front mudguard which had worked a little loose. While we were there, we also ditched the outer layers that were no longer needed in the warm sunshine.
It was from this point on that the ride got hard. That sunshine was doing more than warming us up - it was heating the air, and as we were by the sea, that means wind. The whole of the rest of the ride seemed to be into a steadily strengthening headwind, and mysteriously uphill . . . and we got slower and slower and slower. I watched our average speed drop down below 17mph, and then by the end right the way down to just over 16 mph.
I was worried that the drop off in speed was down just to fatigue, but then I reasoned that shouldn’t be surprising - I’ve only trained up to about 50 miles this year. Then after reaching the finish line, I realised that it was the wind after all - the last couple of miles had been a 14 mph crawl, that same stretch of road was a 25mph giggle on the way back to our house. It seemed that the wind had actually got up from being almost non-existant at dawn to pretty blowy by lunch time!
So next year. I think we have a better plan: Drive to Seahouses on Sunday with the bikes, and then cycle home at a mischief-filled pace. Sleep at home on Sunday, and then cycle back to Seahouses on Monday (it’s a Bank Holiday) at a leisurely pace to fetch the car.
Who wants to join us?
- Type: Cycle
- Date: 08/30/2009
- Total Time: 6:48:00.00
- Calories: 5959
- Distance: 109 miles
- Average Speed: 16.03 mph