I was umming and aahing about whether or not to go for a ride this Sunday, being with stationary bikes all week I was getting a bit jaded with it all! Luckily in Bath we have very energetic and enthusiastic cycle clubs, and I could just not ignore the tweets and Facebook reminders about Velo Club Walcot’s weekly Sunday ride. I summoned all my willpower to gear up, looking out the window at a grey misty gloom. I got to Bath Guildhall at 9.25 with the off time being 9.30. At 9.30 nobody appeared and I was getting a bit twitchy as I’ve been out on rides where groups leave on the dot! I didn’t need to worry as a few seconds later folk started to turn up. We did brief introductions, chatted a bit about our bikes giving any latecomers a bit of leeway to get to the start point. I fiddled with the zip on my left shoe cover, it was pretty wrecked but luckily the velcro strap at the top stopped it flapping around. There was no way I’d be cycling in today’s freezing conditions without some thermal foot assistance.
We headed off down Great Pultney Street making for Bathampton and the old Toll Bridge. The descents and flats were chilly, no time to warm up, so it was good to get to the foot of the Bannerdown climb to get warmed up. One of the gang’s chain flew off right at the bottom, typical, a chain always chooses the best moment to dislodge itself from the drivetrain, even if gears are perfectly adjusted and by the looks of it the bike, a Cervelo with nice red spoked wheels, was running sooo sweetly. He quickly sorted it and was soon closely following the main bunch. Bannerdown seems less daunting going up than coming down, so we soon got to the summit! After a short wait we all set off again. Near whiteout conditions prevailed on the plateaux at the top, but not bad enough to make cycling difficult or unpleasant.
Its fairly flat up on the Cotswolds Plateaux so we bowled along at a good pace. It wasn’t your typical chaingang with riders taking turns at the front, not so, the pace was just that slightly bit more relaxed with riders a bit more spaced out 2 abreast, with each pair of riders pushing their way against wind resistance. Paul who was leading the ride let the group know that a steepish bend was coming up and to go carefully. One of the group had sped ahead a bit so we kept our fingers crossed that he would read the road well. Unfortunately when we came round the bend we saw the guy on the floor in the middle of the road with his mangled bike. I stopped at the back to warn traffic, and the others went on to retrieve him and the bike. Luckily we were a hundred yards from the White Hart Pub at Ford where we could sit outside and sort things out. The guy’s back wheel was totally bent, like he had come down heavily on it, so he got on his ‘phone to arrange transport. He really was quite beat up by the road with two big bloody gashes to the head and one to the leg. A bar person kindly brought a hot drink, and the manager even came out and got the guy indoors to keep warm until help arrived. The guy wasn’t wearing a helmet and it was lucky that nothing more serious occurred, this really underlines the importance of wearing a helmet, even if just to prevent those nasty scratches when skin contacts the gravel.
The ride then turned west towards Acton Turville and then to Pucklechurch, on to the Bristol Bath railway path and back home to Bath. This final stretch was pretty uneventful, apart from a nice fast blast down the Bristol Ring Road where we were all strung out in a long time trial like line! The ride ended up at the inimitable Chelsea Cafe where we had seriously good coffees and cakes, what a refreshing ride!