Gavin's rides take on a epic feel as the long winter continues.
There are no known records of the all-conquering Julius Caesar ever jumping on his bike and putting in a few hard yards after slaying the Northern tribes. No paintings illustrating him knackered out at the top of the Stelvio quaffing cake and coffee with his buddies. We do know, though - the soothsayers warned him to beware the Ides of March. Some mistake? Surely they said "Rides in March"? For the weather can be as treacherous as bumping in to Brutus whilst clipping across the Senate floor in ones cleats. And it is not just poor old Julius who can feel let down this time of year. Based on last year's freak "heatwave" in March - I thought a sportive around the Ides would be an excellent way to celebrate the Spring.
And so with very high expectations on the weather I signed on to the Spring Onion Sportive. My pal Dave and I cycled the six miles to the event in nice early morning sunshine - we were even debating the need for carrying the extra wet-weather clothes such was our misplaced optimism. Then, after registering - the Traitor, our Brutus, appeared in the form of dark clouds - looming larger and larger - and finally striking in the form of a persistent rainfall - and it refused to let up for the rest of the day.
The route gradually succumbed to rivulets, pools and in one case a minor lake under the relentless showers. With the headwind blowing wave after wave of rain in the face, mud and grit from the rider in front pebble dashing all forward facing features- it really is on rides like this that the "hard gene" is well and truly tested. Whilst some community minded riders did have mudguards - anyone who dared slipstreaming risked more than spring onion-induced tears in their eyes.
The elevation on the course was not too taxing - but the rolling route in the terrible conditions was more than enough for this pleasant 68 mile, Sunday ride. The usual route signage was augmented with arrows sprayed on the road. This is a particularly good way of signing a route - as I find route markers are happy to spray re-assuring arrows liberally on the roads where they may be reluctant to use up the more conventional signs. The cakes at the feed stop alone were - worth getting wet for - and hot drinks were also provided.
Back at the finish, it was easy to spot the riders whose penchant for wheelsucking got the better of them, as they resembled a shift of miners returning from a hard day at the coalface, covered in the tell tale signs of panda eyes. Despite the conditions - everyone was smiling and happy, Dave got a top 40 finish - and may well be asked for ID when he next tries to get served in a pub- whilst I was half an hour and 140 mudguardless people behind him. I was allowed to sulk on the long wet ride back home - and I did.
Now to return to the calendar and pencil in the next event. Let's hope that the weather picks up again soon or I will have to persuade Dave to fit mudguards so that I can draft him in comfort.