Today was the 2009 South West Road Club's May Flyer. I vowed this
year to not try and get on the wheel of a fast group early on as that
enevitably leads to pain later in the day. I kept this up for about
30 miles which meant I was riding mostly solo but humming along
nicely when a pair of faster riders caught me and I did catch their
wheel until the halfway point. After that I was quite quickly dropped
and so that allowed me to enjoy the headwind on the return journey.
I was at least pleased that the route goes through Peaslake thus
avoiding Pitch Hill on the way home or at least it did last year.
This year it did not! Taking us up Pitch Hill and then down around
Peaslake along Lawbrook Lane which also has a sharp climb in it. All
this when you still have Coombe Bottom to face.
Not sure how long it took me, but it was a long time, much longer
than last year.
I failed to zero my bike computer before the start and I have mislaid
I was planning a slight detour for my 1000th blog
entry but time has not allowed me to finish the entry before a normal
cycling entry arrived. The detour may appear later.
On Saturday I rode “La
Ventoux, Beaumes de Venise” which involved riding 170km with
more than 3000m of climbing. Now why would you want to do this? Here
This is the second and shorter of the two “big” descents of
the day, dropping from Chalet Raynard down to Bedoin. By the time I
was descending this I was most certainly in a “saving energy”
mode but on the upside this descent did not start in the clouds.
Before the ride there was much talk of how hard climbing Ventoux
was going to be. Ventoux has a formidable reputation not least
Simpson died climbing it in the 1967 Tour. It is a strange climb
for at least two reasons.
The road was built not for horse and cart but for motor
vehicles. So the roads are wide extremely good quality but steep.
You can see the quality of the road from the video. Most of that
descent was over 40mph and the top speed of 48mph somewhere. All
this on a bike with 100psi tyres yet unlike some of the videos in
England the film is not vibrating to much.
It goes to the top of the mountain. Most cols go to a pass
which is the lowest point in a mountain range.
Then the area is renowned for it's strong winds. We were buffeted
the whole day by a strong wind from a North East.
Every bike we saw, of which we saw plenty, had a triple chain set
and those with only double chain sets mostly had “compact” chain
sets. The small rings had 34 to 36 teeth and there were plenty of 27
tooth rear sprockets in evidence. I therefore got increasingly
worried that my 39 tooth small ring and 25 tooth big sprocket were
not going to give a low enough bottom gear. Needless to say the
riders I was with spotted my concern and played on it (cyclists are
like that, it's not personal).
On the day after an initial panic with one of the riders I was
with having a split tyre just before the start we were off at about
8:40 and we rode to the base of the main climb at Bedoin. I was still
with one of my friends at the bottom of the climb but only briefly as
I clicked into my bottom gear and I assume he clicked into his which
was lower. As so often happens to me after the first 1km I thought as
long as it did not get much steeper I could keep doing this for quite
a while. Getting to Chalet Raynard and above the trees the wind
started to play it's part which initially allowed me to slip up a few
cogs as I was blown up the hill. However on the next bend it was
first gear again for the hill and the headwind and the added fun of
going into the clouds which completely obscured the view of
We had driven up here on the Thursday when it had been equally
cloudy to amongst other things pay our respects at the Memorial to
Tom Simpson, so I had some idea that when I reached the Memorial was
about 1km to go. Since Cafe Raynard I had been contemplating whether
to stop to put on my waterproof jacket for the decent or whether to
just tough it out. Going over the top I decided to do the sensible
thing and put on the jacket After all I had dragged it all the way up
why not use it. This turned out to be a very wise decision.
The start of the descent was quite horrible. The lack of
visibility, the damp road, the wind, the cold and the other riders
streaming past all made for an unpleasant and quite scary ride. After
a while however I was below the cloud and started to feel happier
streaming down the wide smooth tarmac. The pangs of hunger though
were beginning but the idea of eating while doing 40+mph being
buffeted by crosswinds down a road that had tight bends and that I
did not know did not seem wise.
On reaching the bottom I could feel that the food situation was
more desperate and so ate the banana that I had had stuffed down the
front of my jersey almost immediately after eating that I came to a
food stop where I got some cake and more drink.
The next section of the ride was according to the profile, flat.
However the profile was dominated by ventoux so failed to show that
in fact there were a number of short climbs and descents that were
sapping my remaining strength. All the while my GPS was forming a
double torture by telling me I was less than half way round and the
elevation meant I had over 1000m of up hill before I got to back to
Just as I thought it could not get worse the rider who I had last
seen at the bottom of the climb called out my name. Now this is not a
race but it is competitive. I felt sure that if he had the legs to
catch me then he would fly past me and then be able to spin his lower
gear up the next climb while I struggled to try and stay in contact.
We ended up in a group of six or so riders cycling up the river
valley with sitting in second place wondering when the inevitable
would happen and I would be spat out the back. When my friend went to
the front the pace increased, the other riders all rode past me and I
was spat out the back. Then the gap stopped growing with me about 50
I decided I may as well make one final effort to bridge the gap as
then at least I would get some shelter and to my surprise I managed
that quite easily. As the road turned upwards more severely I found
myself passing the other riders until as the climb for real started I
was off the front and feeling good.
The second climb of Ventoux was very very much easier than the
first. The road was much less steep and so when the wind was in my
face I was doing 10mph and when it was behind I was doing 18mph.
There were some other British Riders with “Elite Cycling” shirts
on so in the last 2km I used one as a target to catch which while
taking the long view was the wrong thing to do did have a certain
pleasure when I got onto the big ring and hit 28mph uphill in the
last km of the climb (yes I had a tail wind, but I can dream I'm a
Then that descent.
The final section was into the wind and again the profile showed
as flat but in fact contained three significant (ie bigger than
anything we get in Surrey) climbs which resulted in me crawling up
them with the constant fear I was going to be caught again.
The final five km however were both downhill and with the wind
behind me so I was able to fly down the road at over 30mph waved
through the junctions by the marshals as at all the other junctions.
I managed to finish with a time of 8 hours 4 minutes 13 seconds
for the 170km earning me a Silver certificate.
My GPS disagrees about the distance as does MapMy ride. The GPS
claimed 105 miles, MapMyRide claims 99.67miles but it also shows that
some of the corners were cut. Cutting those corners for real would
involve a significant fall!
again we, Molesey BBT, rode the South Western Road Club's May
ride. This year is was called the “May Flyer” the route
was identical to last year but the weather was not. Today was
glorious sunshine. We started off as a group but one immediately,
that is within 10 yards of the start, punctured and the rest of us
pushed on. By the time I got over Coombe Bottom all the other BBT
riders were no where to be seen. One rider I know from the trips to
was with me and a few others I did not know. We pushed on.
After about 22 miles we were caught by three riders who had
started 3 or 6 minutes behind us and so were clearly going faster
than us. I decided to try and catch a wheel and see how far I could
hold it for. One of the riders had blistering speed on the “flatter”
sections the second I later discovered was doing the ride on the big
ring and could clearly have left us all standing. The third seemed
like a very good all rounder.
I managed to stay with them until the return climb up Coombe
Bottom where the “all rounder” was dropped but the rider
on the big ring disappeared. I was only 10 yards off the other rider
at the top but He was on a mission and the drop from there to the
finish suited his style being able do a fast pace.
My GPS told me I completed the ride in 4:54 for the 86.24miles
Finally on the way home I got to be bicycle
repair man to a random Lady whose chain had come off. The whole
day was 104 miles and my legs certainly feel that I have had a good
workout. I do really need to find out what the problem is with my
right foot which became extremely painful during the ride. I was
wearing my Sidi shoes. I'll try the Carnacs for a few weeks to see if
that makes it better.
Today the Molesey BBT joined the South Western Road Club's Early
Spring 100km Cyclosportive. The claimed 100km turned into 65
miles and they removed one early hill and inserted an extra one at
around 32 miles. The weather could not have been more different from
SWRC event I rode. Today it was warm and dry actually too warm
for what I was wearing. The route took us over the North Downs twice
over Leith hill and there was the bonus hill somewhere in Sussex. I
would quite like to know exactly where the bonus hill was so I could
avoid it in future. With the perfect weather the only problem was the
that the roads in a number of places were damp and very slippy
resulting in two fallers that I saw. I almost came a cropper on a
left turn that had a man hole cover just in the wrong place however
nothing more than a wobble and a comment of support from the rider I
was trying to stay with.
A truly magnificent day. A well organised event, well signposted
and a delightful route (except the hills). I ended up doing 92 miles
by the time I had ridden to the event and ridden back all on just one
banana which thankfully I was given at the halfway point.
I got the results through for the South
Western Road Club Cycle sportif, which is not a race but since
they publish times you can see how well you did compared to others. I
came in ninth, (fifth for my age group) which I find amazing:
9 05:03 Gerhard Chris E 05:03 GOLD
I've now forgotten the rain and how horrible the day was.