It was a busy day on Sunday. In the morning I got up early (at least, early for a Sunday) and hopped on the bike to ride to a pub car park to meet with other people at 9:30am. Since moving to Manchester, I have been wanting to get into the cycling scene a bit here. My motivation is to get to know some people. At the moment my social circle consists entirely of The Pretty One’s friends.
The local cycling club is Manchester Wheelers. They have a forum, and a website, where they advertise the rides that they are doing. After registering I asked if I could ride with them – the answer was yes, so off I went.
The ride was large, and having been worried that it would be too fast, I needn’t have. There were all abilities, and I wasn’t the only ‘newbie’ there. Unfortunately, I found myself near the front from the start, and even took my pull on the was up to the Peak District. This was not something I wanted to do – draw attention to myself – but to have pealed off without taking a turn would have also been obvious. The bright green team kit that I am required to wear as part of the agreement to be a brand ambassador hardly helps me feel inconspicuous as it is.
this is not my photo – credit to CW42
The route was going to be a harsh one. 80km in the Peak District with the focus being on climbing. What helped with this was that the size of the group, with 27 people, meant that there was a lot of recovery time at the top of climbs. Actually, I fancy myself as a bit of a climber – I am like a bumble bee though, everything about my build says that I should be a sprinter, if anything, but I enjoy the sheer bloody mindedness of a teeth grinding climb. The only thing I was worried about was ‘bonking’ so some Kendal Mint Cake*, Gels, a PowerBar, a Bananna and two bottles of energy drink were stuffed into my jersey. Thinking about it, the sugar overload was probably the reason that I didn’t really sleep well!
What I love about led group rides is that sometimes you want to ‘get’ to an area to ride it, so you tend to pick the quickest route there (riding from Manchester to the Peaks, for example). This is especially true if you are new to an area. What this means is that you often bypass quiet little roads which might make your route a little more pleasant. After all, you don’t want to tire yourself out before getting to the good bit. Going on a group ride allows you to avoid that risk – people know the area and so you discover routes, and short cuts which you can take.
The ride itself was harsh. I swear to god, at one point the climb was so steep that the only way to ride it was standing and grinding. I run a compact, but with an 11 – 23 (you can’t do 11 – 21 on my setup, before anyone suggests it) and honestly, I was wishing for a 25. The climb must have been 20 – 25% at its steepest. It just headed for the heavens. All of the other climbs of the day were fantastic, but that one was a killer!
After riding with the club for a significant amount of time, I decided that I needed to get back home, so set off back alone – the route on the GPS certainly helps with this. I can’t recommend MotionX GPS enough for this – especially once you purchase it, you can download maps for free.
The ride total was 104km, with 1387m of climbing. Then I went home, went to the airport and flew here!
* The Pretty One got this for me, after it came up in conversation once. I used to love it as a kid. Essentially it is mint flavoured sugar, moulded into a bar.