The clocks are going back an hour to mark the return of Greenwich Mean Time. Everyone is excited, including the news-readers, as most people in the UK have an extra hour in bed! That is, everyone except me. The Baroudeur Big Ride returns, and despite the nippy weather, the ride is always much fun. I can’t lie in bed any longer. Kit all ready the night before, it’s a nice big-breky before I’m out the door.
Liz, Nigel and Andrew are there sharp and all looking like they need a warm cuddle. Moments later, Ben arrives in style. His VW camper ensuring he gets to the starting point at Richmond on time and in good health. A quick oil-change and we’re off.
I’m delighted that everyone is on form. We catch up to the Pearson club, who are also braving the weather. A ‘hello!’ is shared, as well as a few conversations about destinations, kit, and weather. Before long, the Baroudeurs are feeling the need to stretch their legs more, and we spring into action. No chase group today, just us leading the way.
As cold as it is, Autumn can bring quite a few delights: the turning of the leaves to rich colourful blends; quiet, open, and now well maintained post-Olympic roads; the clearing of the hedgerow, which widens ones vision on a descent and the clean air that fills ones lungs. It’s all very lovely.
Ben and I take a moment to wheel beyond Box Hill to enjoy an extra burn in the legs. Past the breath-taking view and onto the steakhouse. We wave as a whole team of mountain-bikers stream out of the forest. The teas and date-flapjacks go down well. Plus, the new trick learnt from Ben, of wearing a gilet under ones long sleeve is genius. Just before we head off, we meet a friendly couple who are interested in the club. Always nice to meet friendly cyclists.
That’s what the Baroudeur Big Ride is all about: Room for both the social and the racing side. A chance to mix it up and get out there!