Well here it is. I have finally managed to write the article about this club run. Not much more that a week late. Unfortunately I cannot remember the full start list, but most people will get a mention I am sure.

This week feeling especially stupid I decided to ride up to Becketts for the club run. This is something I have not done since I moved house. My new house is that little bit further away than my old one (eight miles instead of five) that I have to feel pretty confident of how I am going before I was going to attempt to ride up. I also live right at the top of a large hill now, which kind of puts me off. Anyway I decided I needed to do some more miles so this week I rode. It was another cold morning with a bit of frost around. Seeing the sun out I decided to go without winter gloves, which was not the best idea. Fingers were already numb when I stopped to buy some bananas at the local Spar in Longbridge. I should really be prepared and get my food in before Sunday as it is a bit risky finding what you want at 9am on a Sunday morning, but it always seems to provide amusement to bleary eyed shop assistants when I pop in wearing half my cycling gear. This week they were treated to the full monty. No not really, just me fully togged up for a winter ride. Something all of us are very used to but the general public find hysterical.

I had allowed too much time to get to Becketts and was first there. It was a large turnout as usual when everyone arrived. The B run saw the first outings this year of Helicopter and Budgie on a fully fledged run. We headed down Gorcott and out towards Bidford by familiar routes. The way out was marked by punctures to Nick S and Nick W. Nick W also managed to break his pump by bending it in half. The sun was quite warming by now and the stops actually served to warm you up. Helicopter and junior headed back after 20 miles or so. Brian was feeling the pace and did not want a full training session yet.

As we headed towards Evesham there was a myself, Ossie and Nick H took a brief stop for some relief. The others promised to carry on slowly. After 2 miles of chasing we got back on, to see Nick S 50 yards up the road. Obviously going slowly! We hit a small hill just as we re-joined and I got on Beans wheel as he started his usual progression up the group when the going gets hilly. I was determined to make my point an sprinted over the top, catching Nick S on his break away. I went over the top and started to head down towards the Evesham by pass. I realized that this brief moment at the front had been a BAD idea. As I went over the top my legs were absolutely screaming with lactate and within 2 miles were had started our through and off session on the dual carriageway.

We started the through and off and lost Ian almost immediately. Nick Hands was the next to go after riding the line in a novel way. The idea is usually to go to the front and then pull off. Nick decided to go to the front and then sit there until the man behind forced himself through. A little more coaching is required methinks. Nick S was content with charging through on each turn in an effort to raise the pace. This worked in the end and Nick Hands was the victim. Nick S then paid for his enthusiasm and was forced to stop working himself. Hanging on at the back with, yes you guessed it, me. I had managed a few turns at the front, but my legs were still screaming. I sat in at the back, not struggling, but unable to raise the level enough to go through and do some work. I was also very conscious of the extra distance I was doing this week and did not want to blow.

As we got close to the end of the session, DAS himself also sat up as did Ossie. Dave decided not to push him this week. I was able to go across to the front group of Nick W, Rob and China. The yellow one is clearly going quite well. We then turned off the main road and headed back through the lanes rather than up the main road through Studley. This turned into a series of small tests with Myself, Beans, Rob and Nick W all battering each other every time we came to a rise in the road. When we got to Ullenhall the lads went for the 30 by the church, I think Ossie got it. Then as we started up Ullenhall I was at the back talking to Dave. I managed to get on Beans wheel, but he kicked half way up to catch the lads, and I could not stay with the mighty mouse uphill.

Up Ullenhall, Beans had managed to catch Rob and Nick and they successfully worked him over as they headed down the A435. I caught Ossie on Ullenhall and we worked it through to the M42 island. We were not catching the 3 in front and there was no sign of anyone behind. We turned off and rode towards home together at a more easy pace. When I left Ossie I still had Tessall lane to contend with but it was not too bad. I could just about keep a 42X19 going up it. Beans clocked the ride as just over 50 miles, so with my ride to and from this week that was nearly 70 for me. Really felt tired in the legs when I got home but it had been a good day and definitely worth it.

And Todgers report on the A run.

I did actually receive this on the morning of the 21st. Mr. Todd is very good at getting his articles done.

Groan. If you thought last week’s reliability ride was hard it was just a mere warm up. The omens were not good as Wilkes had said on Tuesday evening ‘The ride will be hard on Sunday’. When asked ‘Why’. He simply replied ‘Because it will be’. Does he have PMT or something?

The magnificent seven who set off were the shattered six plus Wilkes three and a bit hours later. Wilkes, Haines, El Magnifico, Toddy and a rare appearance from Shay McGowen (sorry if the spelling is wrong) made up the BCC contingent, accompanied by Chris Duffield (West Mids Police) and Ian Robson (Warwicks). Despite his success of last week Beans opted for the ‘B’ group. Robbo was out on some mega-lightweight racing best will expensive wheels and keen observers noted that Wilkes had removed the two tons of batteries he normally carries – so he meant business.

Myself and the Magnificent One were on the front to Hockley Heath then the pace went up a tad as different drivers took over but it all held together. To the top of Hatton, a whizz down the hill and on the flat Bobbi stormed through and Wilkes got on his wheel. A few gaps appeared and I managed to jump over to them towing a few other along. 27mph over the A46 island and into Warwick. Through Warwick and out on the old A41 and the pain started big time.

The road is somewhat rolling and the HRM was showing 185+ just to hang on. Eventually right through Wellsbourne than it really wound up on the road to Stratford. We zoomed past two other cyclists as I’m sure they said ‘Flipping heck’ or some similar phrase. All credit to Bobbi, he put in a mega session on the front at 25mph on the last two miles into Stratford.

The legs were in real trouble by now and wheels were getting harder and harder to hold, but the group was still together. Out past the Shire Horse centre and right towards Welford. A call for a comfort break and the plan worked – an easing of the pace. Bob and I sat on the front through Welford and up the long climb through Binton and the Graftons. A bit of a zoom down into Cantlow then on to Wootton and the back road to Preston Bagot. It stayed together on the Col de Claverdon and I even got to the front again.

It wound up out of Claverdon and Shay’s elastic went at Shrewley so an easing was called for. Out of Shrewley towards Five Ways and there was some through and off with Duffers sitting in. At Five Ways Shay turned off and we started throughing and offing again. The pace crept up 25..26..27..28+ and gradually the numbers working decreased. First me, then Bobbi, then Robo were forced to sit in. Left to Temple Balsall and Robbo sat in with Duffers and me whilst Bobbi, Wilkes and Haines worked it through.

The long climb to Knowle saw just Wilkes and Haines working. Through Dorridge, Ilshaw Heath and Earlswood they were still at it with people turning off. It would have been so, so easy to drift off the back but somehow the legs held together right to Wythall Station. It’s fair to say that everyone (bar Wilkes?) was stuffed. 70 miles in 3 hours 20 minutes including some big hills. Just hanging to a ride of this calibre was an achievement in itself. Then off to the gym for 2 hours!

It’s now 8:30, Sue Potts has just arrived and I think this is going to really, really hurt …….