Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A Weekend In Two Countries

The forecast didn't look good. It looked like we would get wet, and with that in mind, Thursday night I picked a van up, packed it with my bike and Lucinda's bike, ALL my cycling gear and wellies (in hindsight a wetsuit might have been a good idea) and set off to Dave's on Friday morning. 

The destination, my friend Dave's house, just North West of Shrewsbury, whilst technically still being in England was the base for our weekend riding. My brother Jack was also coming for the weekend, so we had a nice little group of 4.

Upon arrival it was straight to the pub, and plan our riding for the rest of the day. Dave had plotted what looked to be a great little 25 mile loop, and was just what we needed before our bigger ride on Saturday. The ride started from Dave's, well, it was raining, not only was it raining it was very windy... This would be an interesting ride, especially given that I had left my jacket in London. The ride started off along the flat country roads, pace was good and within minutes I was soaking, but all good fun. 10 miles in Dave pointed to a large hill to our right (Rodney's Pillar), we were going up that. As you can see from the profile below the ride was pan flat until this point, so a nice Cat 3 climb, 2.8 miles, 5% average and 711ft gained would get the legs hurting. Climb started off through a small housing estate on a wide road, and was quite steep. I kicked and put in a big effort to see Dave off, but decided to hold back and save myself, we then all rode the climb together, this was meant to be a social ride after all! The climb was a narrow singletrack road, lots of mud and standing water, with a good mix of gradients. Really good climb and nice to be back on something longer than a Hertfordshire 1km sprint climb.... The descent however was sketchy at best, I need to buy some new gloves that are actually waterproof (more on this to follow) Back on the flat and it was around 7 miles back to Dave's through some very flooded roads. 2 countries in one ride, how novel.

Dave had planned a 55 miles ride for Saturday, the weather had other plans. We started off along a twisty flat B road for a few miles before hiting the first climb. A good cat 4 to really get the legs and body warmed up, I put in some effort at the the bottom (segment) and seemed to put in a good time, 7th on this climb. The ride then descended into the valet and quickly out the other side, a short sharp climb was waiting for us, along with ice and a headwind... We regrouped In a small village where the route split, we opted for the shorter route as the weather had no truly arrived. This did however mean another cat 4 climb, easy to start with which then kicked to 20% for the final section! Very nice views from the top though. 

We then descended along the twisty road which joined a quick A road, and a section along the flat, well that was until the climb, the final one of the day, and the one before the cafe stop, another cat 4 and a really wide and smooth climb. Pace was dictated as social up here, mainly because Dave had the KOM... 

We got to the cafe, just as rain got worse and stayed there for longer than was really needed, the rain finally passed and we were off again, straight back to Dave's along the flat. There was of course one section where effort was required. A section of a local TT course 1.2 miles long. I put in a big effort , averaged 30.1 mph and bagged second. A breif play in some floods and a standard photo next to the England/Wales sign and then back for a curry and a beer, not to mention trying to warm up! 

A great weekend riding in some very testing conditions on some excellent climbs, now to get back when it's dry...

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