It’s Saturday night and the voice at the other of the line tells me he’s at the gym. When I ask him why, he says it’s because he needs it so that he can keep up with the team!
Just because it’s the World Champs weekend, doesn’t mean it’s going to be that tough. All the same, in honour of the class the women displayed on Saturday, with an outstanding win by Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, and the triumph of a Michal Kwiatkowski, the London Baroudeurs ride out and head north to Hertfordshire.
Jack and I head out early to make it in time for the meet at Swain’s Lane. With so many more members living up this way, it’s only a matter of time before we’re having more regular rides into Herts. Part of me wishes this doesn’t happen, as it would perhaps mean riding separately from both my teammates and close friends, but the appeal and the potential soon sweeps this fear away.
As we wait, a number of Big-B’s sweep down having done a warm-up climbs of the infamous hill. It only takes a moment before early Sunday climbers are out and make the Swain’s climb part of their breakfast. Sadly, we lose Captain to an emergency, but ever a gentleman he joins us up Swains as a show of support.
Made for this
The ride out of north London is effortless. Whoever planned this part of town, must be a cyclist: the roads are wide and the gradients appealing to many. We organise into pairs and as the pedals turn, the conversations start to flow, and before we know it, we’re on open country roads.
King and Queen of the Jungle
It’s a new route for many today, but you wouldn’t have thought it. Paola, Ryan, Jack and Andrew whizz by; ensuring me that they’re here to have a good time on their bicycles, and I’m not going to hold them back.
We pause for a mechanical and rendezvous with everyone at the wildlife park, where the ‘Big Cats’ rest. It just happens the King and Queen of the jungle are gazing at us. The king roars as if to say he’s had enough of us and it’s time for us to press on. We take our leave and find our way to loop back home.
The timing is good. In a couple of hours, there’ll be lunch, and the men’s elite race starting. Everyone’s gettting hungry.
There are still a few surprises in store: the narrow descent down the ‘Cheese and Board’ Lane. Followed by the long Roman roads that lead us home. Perhaps the most trying are the runs through to Potters Bar. Seeing so many Big-B’s in formation, protecting each other in a Sunday peloton is reward enough. It’s a beautiful sight on a beautiful ride.
The ‘Good Back’
It’s not always we get a chance to ride together, so it’s a blessing to have good friends riding again. Here’s to all our goals on and off the bicycle!