10 Sweet B’s
That Sunday Rhythm
The Club’s WhatsApp group suggests a non-stop Windsor ride for Sunday Morning, setting off from Richmond Park at 8am. A smattering of interest is shown and the forecast promises that rain will clear before departure. The thought of having Sunday afternoon off to sit in the sun is too good to pass up and so I throw my hat in the ring.
Waking at 6am to the sound of large drops sporadically bouncing off the Velux windows slightly dampens my spirit, but with an hour before I depart, I have faith that the BBC weather team will keep their word. They don’t, but they make another promise that the sun will eventually breakthrough. It is still raining as I roll out onto the greasy road to head south towards Richmond Park. The sky looks dark and ominous and I begin to doubt the prediction I heard before leaving the house. I pull into JC’s house to be told “you’re too early” as a half-dressed Irishman with a bowl of cereal greets me. “I’m always early” I reply as I step in, happy to be out of the rain for a moment. I must have looked impatient as JC is soon ready and we head back out into improving weather, still dark and ominous but no longer raining. I have clearly upset JC’s rhythm as 20 minutes in he notices he has forgotten both his bidons.
Our kind of breakfast – aubergine pasta bake, 4 baguettes and blueberry muffins
Heading south across London, a clear blue line begins to appear in the morning sky and my faith in the BBC weather team improves. Mild temperature and a light breeze help to shift the moisture from the road and our confidence in the corners increases. We soon arrive in Richmond Park, only twenty minutes early, the coffee shop shows no sign of life. JC hopes that someone will answer his WhatsApp calls for a spare bidon.
As the clock ticks towards 8am more Big B’s start to appear and it is clear that more people have decided to try their luck than the WhatsApp activity suggested. The WhatsApp telegraph comes to life with sick and unpunctual riders making calls for clemency.
Last to arrive is the Captain and, after a final comfort break, a strategy is suggested, one of discipline and comradery, a call to work together for the greater good. We form up and head off, an orderly procession, numbers reaching double figures, all proudly displaying the Big B.
Riding through the park, we are greeted by deer, their antlers weighed down by thick velvet, no time for pictures, the pace building as the blood begins to circulate. Sawyer’s Hill provides the first test as riders get out of their saddles in search of a PR. The line forms-up as riders clear the bump, hearts pumping hard for the first time. Leaving the park, Hernan bids us a reluctant farewell, guests at home mean he can’t join us for a long ride today.
Greetings| Rolling Out | Happy to wait
The Long Line of B’s
An orderly line forms again as we head through Richmond, everyone anticipating a high-speed run along the Hampton Court Drag. Rider after rider takes a turn on the front before pulling to the right to let the line pass by, before jumping on the tail. From the back of the line it is a sight to behold, the long line of B’s working together, discipline intact.
The scene has been set, the team have stretched their legs, all have taken a turn, all are still together, and all are happy with the speed. Progress is swift and exhilarating as we push on towards Windsor. Sadly all good things must come to an end and as we come to rest at the top of St Anne’s Hill, Steve’s tyre succumbs to the pressure. On other Non-Stop rides, this may have been fatal but today, we are like the Navy Seals and Leave No Man Behind. As the tyre is repaired there is a chance to take on energy and fluid, there is also time for some mature, intellectual and insightful banter.
Navy Seals | Bringing along our little mechanic was the right call | Bypassing Queenie
Bypassing tea with Queenie
With the tyre back up to pressure, the line reforms and we are soon seeing signs for Windsor. We negotiate a large roundabout, but traffic splinters the line. Multiple routes into Windsor are offered and tempers begin to fray. Lowell can take it no longer and yells a four-letter expletive at the lead riders, something about seeing us next Tuesday. Within seconds, calm is restored and Race to The Cake is on, a 5km drag into Windsor. The Castle is bathed in sunshine like a beacon of hope at the end. With nine strong lads pulling together, short pulls are done by most and real thrust is added by Ollie, Nick and Ben. We are soon in the shadow of the Castle, achieving 18th fastest on Strava this year. Bypassing tea with the Queen, and with no time for a cheeky Cinnamon Bun, we plough on before an energy crisis forces Stop 2 of the day.
With Lads bonking left right and centre, an emergency stop is called at a newsagent. Soldiers dressed for battle are also re-supplying but they look in far better shape than the B-team, halfway through our epic battle. Calories are devoured; bidons topped up and with the power of Jelly Babies, the B Boys set their sights on home. Once again the line forms nicely and, after negotiating the climb to the top of Great Windsor Park, the pace quickens as we charge through Strava Segment after Strava segment. The pain is being dished out by the usual suspects at the front, but discipline continues to hold and the agreement not to attack or surge endures and all riders continue to catch the tail after giving all they can on the front.
Racing for Glory
We are soon back on the busy roads around Hampton Court and progress slows. The line fragments as riders use varying strategies to negotiate the traffic. The traffic past Hampton Court is as expected on a sunny day in London, but as we enter the Hampton to Kingston flat, the traffic parts in a manner best described as divine intervention. The line comes together one last time and as 2.3km of perfect tarmac opens up before us, we give it one last push, arriving at the Thames with the wind at our heels. Frothing like horses, the pace falls away as we negotiate the busy streets back to Richmond. Entering the park, the treaty ends in a manner not unlike the death throes of a game of Risk. Anyone with anything left in the tank tries to attack, but it is a case of he who dares, wins, circumventing the bumper to bike traffic, as expected on a sunny Sunday in Richmond Park. As we race for glory, imaginary points, titles and medals, all bets are off and the Navy Seals motto, Leave No Man Behind dies. Will is the first to come unstuck with cramp at the top of the final climb, words of pity are offered, but no one is stopping to help. Riders are attacking through the traffic, some are resorting to riding on grass to undertake the procession of cars and bikes, and it’s exhilarating to the end. Everyone gets out alive, no one has a medal but everyone has a whole host of PRs on Strava.
As we regroup at the Roehampton Gate Café, riders turn back into ordinary people and the father’s head off to perform their afternoon duties, whilst the rest take on coffee and energy for the final push home.
Meet the Team: Chronos, Slick, Disco, Captain Brutalis, SE, Vader, Punisher, Red Baron, Guapo, and Buzz.
Join the Ride:
Time: 4:08:07hrs | Distance: 128.2km | Elevation 804m | And dirty faces win races!