Having planned todays ride for sometime, I just wish my legs were feeling as bright as the sunshine was this morning. Another great ride, shame the legs were a bit meh!
There is that saying isn’t there? The 6 P’s (Piss Poor Preparation = Piss Poor Performance). I’d say that was a bit true today. I just wasn’t on it. I usually look forward to my occasional long ride but this week’s run up to it I’ve been a bit indifferent. With a long ride at the weekend, I’d usually take things a bit easier in the week but I decided to commute hard, do a Zwift race Tuesday night and then a longer ride home, hard again, the next day. Thursday I was pretty tired compounded by a lack of sleep on consecutive nights too. I don’t know whether it was complacency, apathy or bloody-mindedness or all of the above but I wasn’t too bothered and drunk beer, went to bed late and got up early. It’s safe to say, it didn’t work.
Bit of a change of plan for this one. I’d normally leave later in the morning so I got to Ironbridge for lunch but as Sally was off I decided to just get it done and be back for lunch. I decided to take my food rather than get food there too. So after getting up at 7.30am, I did breakfast and set out just after 8am loaded with a couple of slices of Banana loaf freshly baked yesterday, and a ham, cheese n pickle sandwich to munch en-route.
I had to memorise a minor detour for part of the route as a road I’d chosen to come back on was closed due to a bridge collapse
The forecast had predicted it to be cold and boy it was! Woof! I’d gone for arm and leg warmers plus my ace Galibier foul weather gillet which has massive pockets (needed!) and as a windstopper, its bomb proof! No headcam either but I did take it on a lanyard round my neck so I could try it by hand a few times while riding.
The first thing I noticed was the cold. My glove choice, just some light Roubaix lined gloves , was inadequate and my hands were frozen for the first few miles. As I got into the lanes and headed south along Timberhonger and Crutch Lane, although cold, the morning was fresh, quiet and beautiful. The first part of the ride traced the same route as my last ride to Clun. The first steep climb of day was out the back of Elmridge and its here the first sign of my legs not playing ball were laid bare. I’d normally change down and ride tempo but the strength just wasn’t there. My legs felt sore and fatigued and I had to small ring it and grovel. FFS.
Out the back of Cutnall Green I passed a couple of cyclists pulled over. One checking his mate’s rear wheel. I asked if they were ok. ‘Think so!’ was the reply so I didn’t stop. In and out of Stourport via Areley Kings and finally I was on rarely seen roads for me tracing the river with Ribbesford Woods on my left. Ahead I saw a cyclist and I can’t help it, I have to chase. Its like a switch is flicked on. I don’t go 100% I just press on the pedals a touch harder and watch them drift towards me. I caught him on a drag before the descent into Bewdley. Its mildly satisfying for some reason. In and out of town and the first climb proper with a longish kicker up to Button Oak. The legs were probably 75%. Basically shit. I resigned myself to a long day so just changed down and got on with it with what I had. The road from here all the way to Bridgnorth is pretty heavy going. Nothing flat. Nothing. Just up and down. As I left Kinlet I turned right for Highley, this was a new road for me. Big descent down, a long draggy climb and it almost turns back on itself. It seemed to go way out of its way before delivering you in Highley. Odd. Anyway the tarmac was good until I left town and then from there through Chelmarsh and into Bridgnorth I have to say the road surface was appalling. Chipped, broken, collapsed, patched, bumpy. The lot. Shake, rattle n roll all the way.
Bridgnorth was busy with a queue up the hill into town. I rode straight through where Sainsburys and all the big car parks are at the top and I was out the back of town climbing again, this time destination Broseley and Ironbridge. More big dipper roads but the road surface was a bit better. The legs were complaining and I was starting to think how they were going to see the ride out. My back was aching now too. I just wan’t comfortable having to freewheel and stretch. After the final big drag upto Broseley, you are rewarded with a nice 2km descent and hairpin into Ironbridge.
I pulled up opposite the bridge itself outside Eley’s, the pork pie place. Awesome pie’s if you ever get a chance. I stopped briefly. Took some photos, ate my lunch in the sun and got going again as I didn’t want to get cold. The Garmin said 2h 21mins. Wasn’t happy.
I briefly retraced my route then tracked the river through Coalport before the steepest climb of the day which although short it must hit 15-20%. As you top out it was quick descent to the A442 and a brief bit of busy main road before turning onto the B4176 at Sutton Maddock. Here all the signs were out advising the road was closed so I had to remember my detour. I’d remembered take the lane to Beckbury then left to Burnhill Green and right back onto the route. Beckbury was signposted off the main road so I found that fine. I turned left to Burnhill Green by the primary school and then right at the T-junction but I somehow popped on the route but not where I expected. Luckily it was just the right side of the bridge that had closed the road and I was back on course as soon as possible.
When I turned right at Burnhill Green. That was part of the course of my first ever road race when I was 16 in 1989. Nearly 30 years ago! Mental. First time back too
Over the A454 and quickly back into the lanes through Halfpenny Green and past the airport. I saw a Robinson R22 helicopter in the air just after, quite low, just like when I flew one a few years back. That was good. Loads more fun than flying a plane.
After what seemed like the millionth climb of the day I started to descend into Kinver and had the first and only idiot driver of the day drive at me head on my side of the road passing a row of cars when it was my right of way. I just rode at them and made them nearly stop and told them what I thought before carrying on. It would have been report no#2 if I had my camera on.
I grovelled up the climb out of Kinver past the church. And then I began to feel a bit better as I skirted Stourbridge and Hagley cutting through Caunsall and heading across to Stakenbridge Lane and Broom Lane to Clent.
Home straight now so although the legs were really aching I just ploughed on up and over into Bournheath and up the drag through Catshill and home. Why do I live on a bloody hill? Ride done. I was done too so straight into a hot bath for a soak.
The ride stats were actually not bad. I predicted 4h 30mins and got back quicker and averaged 30km/h so not so bad afterall. I shouldn’t really care and just enjoy it but you can’t take the competitor out of me unless I have panniers on the back!
I was lucky with the weather. Dry and Sunny was a result.
And onto the next one……Bushcombe Party in 2 weeks