This ride was an antidote to last year’s Tour de Yorkshire where I found the hills often reduced me to walking up them. Cambridgeshire is pretty flat – but can get very windy instead!
There were to be 12,000 other riders on this event which started from the East of England Showground in Peterborough, alongside a number of races and other events over the weekend. I wondered how they would manage to get all 12,000 riders away in a good time – I don’t think I need have worried too much but I made sure I was near the start from about an hour and a half before we were actually due to start. In order to reduce the impact of heavy traffic parking charges were free until 7am then went up to £20 for those arriving after 9. I went for the free option though this meant getting up at 4 am but also gave me the luxury of parking very near the start and all the facilities. I really didn’t want to be stuck waiting for an hour to start riding – and then not finish until well into the evening.
The ride itself started with all the riders needing to walk or scoot or ride very slowly for half a mile or so when we were finally able to start riding properly. This was a completely closed road event, sometimes on quite narrow lanes but often went through small villages where people were cheering us on – real encouragement, especially as these folk were effectively “marooned” – unable to get out in their cars, but they seemed ready to enjoy the day instead.
No hills to speak of but some long stretches of straight and level roads through the fens, occasionally into the teeth of the wind. One surprise was coming to the former RAF base of Alconbury where we had a pit stop amidst hundreds or even thousands of brand new Audi and Skoda cars, probably also VW and Mercedes, some with late 2018 number plates, others with 2019 or unregistered. The base must have been huge in its day with miles and miles of concrete runways and taxiways.
I suffered with mechanical problems as my gears had developed an intermittent fault – I was really annoyed to think that I had accidentally cut through part of an electrical cable, but subsequently (back home) found it to have been a loose connection underneath handlebar tape. For quite a few miles I was stuck in a single gear – not so bad when it was a middle gear, but bad news when it was a low gear. With about 25 miles to go, it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to go faster then 12 mph without spinning my legs frantically – but fortunately something seemed to reconnect in time for the last 15-20 miles.
A little sprinkle of rain quite welcome as I arrived at the finish. A good day, though I wasn’t best pleased with my 7 hours plus time, the mechanical problems did have quite an impact with frequent stops to try to resolve the issue.