bikebritain News December 10, 2011

Evans 'Ride-It', 27th November, Start/Finish, Gatwick

This is a brief story of a ride that did not go according to plan. I should quickly add that this was absolutely nothing to do with the organisation or participants of the Evans 'Ride-It' event; rather it was entirely down to me.

With a start/finish at Gatwick, just 35 miles away from home, this Sunday morning ride offered the opportunity to go cycling around some of North Sussex. With a choice of routes, (Fun at 14 miles, Short at 33 miles, Medium at 50 miles and Long weighing in at 70 miles), Swazy and I decided to opt for the mid-range, a reasonable target given we'd been out the previous night. We had recently been blessed as far as the weather had been concerned and Last Sunday was no exception; blue (ish) skies. 

Neither of us had bothered registering in time so we dutifully filled out our entrance form there and then, paid £15 and reassembled the bikes. So far, so good. Pretty similar format to the wiggle rides, timing chip, map and minor sustenance included, we were ready for the off. The route looked mildly contrived, insofar as it was made up of a bunch of almost nested loops. You may recall that one of my pet hates is retracing my steps or 'route repetition'; fortunately this was not an issue as the largely country roads ran parallel with each other. It also helped that I didn't know where I was. 

We started, shouted out numbers out as we went past the start, #275 and #276 and we were off. We were in a bunch of 20 or so riders all traveling at broadly the same speed. I soon noted a couple of unfortunate souls at the roadside fixing punctures, only a couple of miles into their ride. That's bad luck. However, not as bad as the chap ahead of us had when he turned right on the ironwork located in the middle of the road. His front wheel disappeared and he was sent flying, hitting his head as he fell off. He was ok, just alittle shaken. Note to file; take care when cornering.

We continued at a decent lick, enjoying the new countryside and empty roads. We had seen more folks seen at the side of the road and then it became my turn. The rear wheel started feeling a little saggy. It didn't feel right. I continued for a couple more revolutions. No, it was definitely a puncture. That is annoying. I shouted at Frank, "Puncture," and immediately stopped.  I did not want any damage occurring to my beloved wheels. Up until this point, I hadn't changed the rear inner on the ZIPPs so a field change was breaking new ground. I had at least the foresight to bring a spare inner........but it was only a 62mm Racelight Conti and I already knew the clearance between it and the rim would be minimal. This is where I made by school-boy error. 

The issue was that I had previously changed my front tyre at home and inflated it using my track pump, no problem. The clearance between the valve and the rim was very tight, but manageable. However, I had not tried inflating a tyre using my hand pump. This was a major problem because I was unable to get a decent grip on the valve with the pump I was carrying on the bike. In English, I couldn't pump my tyre up. Same story with Frank's pump - not enough clearance there either. I was in a jam. I was in the middle of nowhere, cleated, with a totally flat rear tyre. Not ideal.

Enter my wingman. I was completely prepared to walk back to the start on the basis that this was my own fault. However, Frank decided it wouldn't be too much hassle to go back, retrieve the track pump, bring it back and continue on. More accurately, he was adamant. So off he cycled and I walked to the where the route split for the first time, 500 meters down the road. 30 minutes later he was back, track pump in tow. Within a minute I was good to go with a lesson learned.

I gratefully took ownership of the rucksack and pump and we rode on. The escapade had taken 45 minutes to resolve. In-between time, and without fail, everyone who had ridden past me had asked if I was ok. That was very public spirited and I was grateful for the concern. I hadn't experienced that before on an organised ride. Great work, thanks!

The time delay resulted in us making the first checkpoint significantly later than expected. As a consequence this was putting pressure on us completing the medium route on time, so at the second route split we decided to head back. It was the right decision, though I felt disappointed. It was a lovely morning and the only reason we had cut short was because of my lack of preparation. Nevertheless, we had gotten some more miles under our belt and some was better than none. I was also feeling the undulations more than expected, so I wasn't too upset to be riding home. Maybe the beers from the previous night were now catching up. 

We had just over 2 hours elapsed ride time, yet we'd been out for nearly 3. 33 miles clocked and enough for one day. It transpired that 'Gimpy Grant' from Twitter clocked me as we were walking back, but unfortunately we didn't manage to hook up and say "Hi".

From an events perspective, it was easily as good as the ‘wiggle’ rides. The signposting was good and the route was suitably challenging. I would participate in another. However, here's the moral of the story. If you are using aero wheels, find somewhere that sells 80mm necked inner tubes and change your tyres over from the Vittoria EVO Corsa's to the already proven and frankly bulletproof Conti 4 Seasons.

One last thing and another note to file; regarding tyres, take my own advice!

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