Sunday, 2 December 2012

Icy Isle of Wight

A cool, fresh, clear blue sky awaited us as we headed towards the Isle of Wight on the early morning ferry for a 60 mile sportive. Ruth and I had found somebody else we knew who had done it before and she had freaked us out a bit by telling us how big and steep the hills were. I was riding the cyclocross as the roadie is out of action at the moment, and as the gears on the CX are much less forgiving, I had visions of humiliating walks up hills whilst Ruth pootled away in front on her triple. Nonetheless, we started out comfortably and had no intention of riding the 60 miles very hard, so if walking was necessary, so be it.

We had summited the first steepish climb and I was tucked in behind as we rolled along a nice, straight road. Out of nowhere, I saw Ruth's front wheel slip out on an icy patch, I thought she was going to recover it before it slipped out even quicker the other way. I watched it happen almost in slow motion though it happened so quickly and as she hit the deck there was no time for me to brake or try to dodge her. I went straight into her bike and crashed out next to her. Fortunately neither of the bikes were damaged. We were both okay too, bar a few grazes and bruises and being a bit shaken up. As we shook it off and took a few minutes to recover, I noticed there was a bizarrely shaped rock sitting in the road. I presumed she must have shifted slightly to avoid it and the sudden change in direction had caused the skid.

We set off again very cautiously and soon the shakiness subsided as we were pleasantly distracted by a long, gently undulating stretch of road with a magnificent sea view and a low, orange sun softly warming our winter-bitten cheeks. That lovely stretch of road ended with a very warming, lengthy climb. It was big enough for us to stop at the top for snacks and de-layering, but still friendly enough to not cause too much suffering. It was as Ruth went into her pockets to find her food that we realised it had not been a random rock in the road earlier, it was a sandwich sacrificed in the crash. At that point I knew she was alright because she was more concerned that she had littered than about the whole crashing scenario.

Roses + mince pies = happy cyclists
Just a couple of miles later and we hit the first feed station. A table of the usual jaffa cakes, bananas, fig rolls, flapjacks, jelly beans and sandwiches were ready for us but even better than that, were mince pies and a tin of Roses. We had gotten there at the wrong time and all that was left in the tin was a couple of crappy orange creams, but we noticed a fresh tin on the side and lingered around shiftily for a few extra minutes. We were in luck, and raided the good ones as soon as it was open. The male cyclists that had gathered knew not to try to get in between two hungry girls and some chocolate so steered clear until we were done.

Onwards we went over some beautiful country roads, every now and again catching a glimpse of the sea. We could not have asked for better weather as the sun shone down and the air was almost still. We conversed and pootled away happily. I was very amused with Ruth's random cycling hand signals and brilliant warnings at junctions of "clear .... ish" as I realise it's actually not that clear and I had better get out the junction pretty sharpish. We came across a sign cautioning us of "Badgers for 1 mile" but fortunately we managed to get through that gauntlet without any badger incidences.

Thankfully, the whole rest of the ride went without incidence and before we knew it we were over the finish line and just in time for a slurp of tea before the ferry home. So apart from being a tiny bit battered and bruised, it was a treat of a ride with no big, scary steep hills or badgers.

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