Saturday, 14 January 2017

8/1 Beckley Ball - Improvers Ride

With the two social rides in December there was no time on the calendar for the monthly ‘Improvers’ ride, so with good weather on the first Sunday of January it was time to make amends.

These rides cover a similar distance and ascent to the main JV Sunday club ride but they are always at a lower pace and a later start for an extra hour of (lovely) duvet time
We had a solid turnout of eight riders including James, Peter Br, Ricky and Martin on their first Improvers ride.Now that we are in the depths of winter and the roads are getting covered in road debris I thought it best to plan a simple route out over the marsh where we could enjoy nice safe and quiet B roads.

Although the pace is supposed to be ‘social’, riders can go off at their own pace as long as they regroup to allow the slower ones to catch up. So I wasn’t too surprised to get dropped on the way out to Rye. Ricky was also a bit off the pace, having not ridden much in the last couple of months.

Unplanned but useful cafe stop in Tenterden
Once regrouped, we stayed together as we headed out towards Tenterden. The weather was almost perfect with a mild temperature and light winds (this is rare for the marsh). For a couple of miles I tried to put in a bit more effort  and actually led the field for a few miles until we began the moderate rise leading into the town. I am even more overweight than normal so even this moderate hill made me feel like I had the brakes on.

Catching up with the others I was surprised to see they had stopped at a café. As per normal custom I had planned a café nearer the end of the route but was more than happy to stop now rather than later (little did I know that this was a cunning plan formulated by Malc D). The café was  nice and had a big advantage in that it was below the level of the road so the bikes were safely off the pavement. It also gave me a chance to collect some subs off members. Just as we were finishing, the door opened and the familiar figure of Mark came in. Mark had missed the start but being a Garmin aficionado , had tracked us down and spotted my green bike outside the café.

From here the route got more interesting as we headed out through Wittersham and Beckley. I always perform better in the second half of a ride, so the hills didn’t seem so bad for me now. Unfortunately the opposite was true for Ricky, the lack of recent training rides was taking its toll and he repeatedly fell back but I was pleased with the way everyone kept regrouping to let Ricky catch-up. I felt guilty that we were making him suffer so much, but on the other hand knew that this ride would get help get Ricky up to his normal standard (sure enough on the Wednesday chain Ricky was actually faster than me)
Malc implements his cunning plan

On reaching Battle some riders peeled off to their respective homes. This left just myself, Ivan, Charlie and Malc D. This is where Malc revealed his cunning plan. Instead of following the planned route through Crowhurst, head back along the main road stopping off at the Black Horse (Telham) for a few beers. This is why Malc had got us to take an early tea stop at Tenterten. It didn’t take much persuasion to agree with this suggestion and it was only three drinks later that we finally escaped the clutches of the pub. As Andy A pointed out on Strava this meant that out of our six hour journey, three of them were actually stationary , lol.
Thanks to those who came out. I will try to organise another one next month.

Steve C

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