GHS ride: 102 in 8.5, April 2012
In between Francis's first 100-mile bike ride and a much shorter ride with the Cottingham Road Club I squeezed in my second century ride of the year on April 15th. The GHS rides, promoted by the Yorkshire Cycling Federation, are held annually as close as possible to the birthday of George Herbert Stancer. The man himself died half a century ago, but these rides continue to be held in his name, as does an individual 10-mile time trial for juveniles. Stancer was born in Pocklington, the fitting place of our first coffee stop, as it was for many cyclists from all over Yorkshire that day.
I arrived at the start with a few minutes to spare, signed my name and set off with neither a route sheet nor my card for signatures and rubber stamps at the checkpoints. I had the route from last year in my GPS and I have an honest face so that was okay then. We rode in to a strong headwind and I eventually took my turn at the front for the last few miles to Pocklington. A snack of Yorkshire Cream Tea and we were away again. The route crosses the grain of the Howardian Hills and I fell off the back of the bunch as we climbed Terrington bank. I caught up just outside Hovingham after one of our number punctured. Another rest and a piece of flapjack. Going back through the estate roads for Castle Howard is along the lumpy road that anyone who enjoyed ITV's Brideshead Revisited will remember fondly. The roads do sap the energy, however, and we were strung out even with the wind at our backs. I began to fade, and I wasn't the only one.
By the time I'd got to Leavening I could barely turn the pedals. The climb out towards Thixendale is seldom pleasurable, but on this day it was painful. So much so that I didn't really enjoy the three-mile descent to the cafe in Thixendale's Vilage Hall. I caught up with the rest – some came in behind me – and decided to remove my leg warmers (the latest purchase) and overshoes. Needless to say the sun went in almost immediately and I felt a chill for the next ten miles or so.
I struggled to stay on the back on the Huggate road and eventually gave up the pace and went at my own. I was dropped at North Dalton, but by Holme on the Wolds I was feeling stronger and eventually caught two other riders – in Etton – who were not having a good day either. We finished the ride together after I shared a bit of flapjack.
On this windy day I finished the ride ten minutes slower than last year (albeit an hour within the limit), but 12 minutes instead of 40 behind the earliest finishers.
I'm still struggling on hills, though 🙁