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Anthony Hogbin, Rhuddlan, Wales, United Kingdom

Story for Too slow for Tuesday club.

Determined to get out again. Bundling my stuff up at work, and getting out the door as quickly as I can - conspicuous in doing so - I head home. Disproving looks of leaving on time burning into my back - quickly becoming a comfort as I walk out into a refrigerated dark world.

It is cold out, there is condensation on everything - roads almost wet with it - the kind of evening you might expect to see mist, but the skies are clear.

Home, in, changing - check phone - phone says 11C which seems a bit optimistic so dress accordingly.
Phone lies. Its about 4C and the skies are clearing - thankfully still, as the newly dark world (first evening ride since the clocks changed) whistles by shrouded in a soft velvet cape... leaving no trace but a whistling in my increasingly cold ears.

Arriving at the meeting place with minutes to spare - there were two new faces I didn't know - and two familiar ones (who were kind enough to slow up and turn back earlier last week).

A loop and back to the pub was order of the day. So off we set.

The two guys I didn't know where pretty much off. Clearly they ride at a different pace to the rest of us, and had no qualms about needing to stay with the rest of the group. Their reflecting piping outlining them like some kind of dayglow stick man skeleton in the increasingly distance distance.

By five miles and the hospital they were all but out of site.

Self doubt started to muster. I am out of shape. I mean, I never was "in" shape - however after 6 months of not even that the body keeps on hoping, and then ... without warning, it gives up, waves a little flag, and suddenly you are a stone heavier... and you are wondering how on earth you managed to ride so far, so fast, so anything. *THIS* was me this evening.

Like some giant fun hoover I was done. First junction where I was unsure which of the two viable ways they could have gone, I decided I was riding alone now. Two junctions without so much as a look back will do that to you - on form or otherwise.

Right about then I saw the lights coming back for me. Now keen to slow up - just in time for the first gradient of the day.

Despite their calls for the contrary I turned left, they turned right - and on they went.

I waited. Switching my rear light from bright to retina ripping flashing, and headed off back the way they went, to take in a smaller loop.

New bike, new gearing, older me, lack of go - this was a lot harder than I remembered. It felt like being on a bike with a saddle way too low (it was not) - or like being in ten gears too low (it was dark, but not that dark and my brain still does work).... I slowly hauled my mass up the hill to the top.

.... to be met in the otherwise uber darkness of open hills by a group of riders crossing the road from the Roman Road over towards the dips towards Betws Yn Rhos.

A few ups and downs to follow, before the deliciousness of the arched-of-tree smooth stretch before Cottage, dip, and final ascent before the screaming descent down to the junction.

The deceptive descent where on a good day a freewheel will beat the most spirited of riding. Today - there was no hurry - no need for speed - I was out - that was enough for me. It was a LOT for me. I used the gradient to help bed in the new brake rotors... stop, start, stop, start.... loudness... well its certainly improving if not done... change must mean something.

Its hovering around 3C now, and the mesh backed gloves are the wrong tool for the job. The pain in my shoulder and upper arm now has competition as the familiar burning of cold fingers is setting in late in the ride (as opposed to the usual of starting a ride and then fading of winter gloves).

Just the familiar flat commute now. Eyes wandering around as much as my thoughts - watching the stars, and the moon lit clouds scudding along.

It feels crap to be slowing everyone up.

I set no records, I achieved no greatness... but so very glad I went out... it is just a shame it was not with company.

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Too slow for Tuesday club.
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Story for Too slow for Tuesday club.
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Anthony Hogbin, Rhuddlan, Wales, United Kingdom
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