Anthony Hogbin, Rhuddlan, Wales, United Kingdom

Story for The rare Saturday

Saturdays are busy days for me. Saturdays are the best of days. They are full of science experiments in the kitchen, making collages out of crushed leaves, endless drawing, and generally getting to act like a bigger version of my five year old. I am fortunate.

However - today - for a limited period only - its a day where I can ride.

Knowing that there is a ride for "The Fast" heading off at 10am on a Saturday morning, I asked if anyone else was out for a flattish, slower affair - and who knew - I get an invite to the ladies ride. Go me.

Unusually on time / early I rolled down to the start to see before even arriving people I did not expect. Rolling into the nature reserve I assumed that there was some other event on - but no - these were, in fact, all cyclists, and a fair few familiar faces.

After some catching up, meeting and greeting - it was time to pick sides, and head off. The first to depart were the British Cycling Breeze group - so shoppers, mountain bikes, and all kinds heading off together... this seemed like a good idea... however despite current lack of ability as it may be - that the bike I am on, the gear I am in, and the experience I pack... probably not for me.

So now I am between the 13 strong ladies rides, and the five strong Fast group - which I seemed to have found myself standing with at the off. "oh".

The group headed off and within the first kilometer I was seeing the front of the group start to pull away. The group changed to a six, and I, amongst other things, was not in the mood for constantly playing catch - so at a convenient roundabout made my apologies to double back and see where the ladies group I had been invited upon had gone.

Not that way.

Doubling back again - and up and over the A road to give chace the back way - and sure enough there they were by the time I had finished climbing out from the main road. I am fortunate. Foolish, but fortunate.

Do not be mistaking this group as a slow group. Yes, there were a fair few people in trainers ... but the route was not flat (to me) and was not slow either!

The route dragged up up and up to Henllan before screaming down into Denbigh - through Denbigh - down past the Church and the 9 mile course before heading right towards Ruthin.

As the now 14 riders rolled into the Craft Centre, we saw the fast group - mostly heading off.

The craft centre did a stirling job of dishing out cake and brews today.

Then having gained on, off out again.

Having gone no more than a mile I should think - we stopped for a flat.

Welcome to that bike you have not ridden for a year (or feels like) and you had forgotten that you need the force of Thor himself to get off the rim. However - there the three of us are with that very challenge.

SNAP - first tyre lever down. Damn.

Get tyre off with some metal levers (I did not know they still did them?!) and its clear where the puncture is and a search inside the tyre finds very little, and what there was seemed to be gravel through the armored band. New tyre back on, and the comedy of getting it back on again.

Pump. Hissing. Flat. *swears under breath*

Off, patch, repeat. Hissing.

Off, replace, pump, nothing. Check valve, valve undsrews with pump. Nice.

Try to sort again - nothing. Nnnrrgh.

At this point the cavalry arrives in the form of a lift back.

Sue and I head on on our own now. The wind is shocking, and while not gusting seems consistently out to get us.

A little ship jumping aside kept me riding and sane - even stopping to 'help' (as much as failing to fix the issue is ever help) could not have been better timed - it all turned out fine in the end. Yay.

It's hard to imagine / remember what it was like to do 40 miles and 2k feet at no speed and feel battered. This, this is where I am now.

So tomorrows "40 mile with a cafe stop social ride" is 55 or 60miles with 4k+ feet of climbing. I think that's got a bit lost along the way somewhere.

Mixed feelings about it before I see even the routes on offer.

Lets see which me the morning brings, and see what the weather is doing - and either lead the rebellion (with at least one taker already) or go at my driving-Miss-Daisy pace.

However - another 40 in the bag. It's not easy. Its not easy at all. It also hurts, it hurts a bunch -  have I mentioned that yet... however a return to riding has begun.

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The rare Saturday
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Story for The rare Saturday
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Anthony Hogbin, Rhuddlan, Wales, United Kingdom
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