Cycle 105km. Club run to Winslow

AM. Cycle 105km (26.0 km/h). Oxford City club run to Winslow, HR122(155), ascent 645m

My turn to lead the club run today. Cycling up the Cowley road I saw a couple of other club runs on their way out of Oxford – Mid Oxon CRT (with Claire Vallance in their midst), and then a short while after them the Oxonian CC “President’s run” with Mick Bowen at the head. I got to Martyrs’ Memorial at 8:55am and there was noone there, I wondered if the clocks had changed or something! Eventually though, we got 10 riders, including one young lad in just a shirt and shorts – looked cold for the day. It was fairly gloomy out, but as I led the bunch out of Oxford with Henry Martin from the OUCC we had a nice tailwind.

Somewhere around Hardwick or Hethe it started raining and we all stopped and put rain jackets on (if we had them). We got soaked through pretty quickly and the temperature seemed to have dropped. There was a general feeling that we ought not to stop, and to take a shorter route back to Oxford – I knew that from Gawcott we could take a road straight back to Brill, avoiding Winslow altogether.

Riding into Gawcott though, I hit a pothole rather hard and my rear wheel bounced on the rim – it’d been losing pressure. I stopped to put in a new tube. Not easy with cold wet hands and the first time I fitted one, that punctured straight away too – I’d not located the shard of glass that was the cause. Eventually I had everything straight and we were on our way again. We’d all got rather cold hanging about at the side of the road and we just put our heads down into the stiff headwind and rode on through the rain. It did start to ease off after a while, but if you weren’t on the front of the bunch you got a right soaking off the wheels in front – only two of us had full mudguards.

Crossing the A41 and heading for Brill it was clear that the lad in the shirt and shorts (he turned out to have a rain jacket with him, at least) was struggling. He’d run out of energy, and I guessed that he was getting very cold. Since we were nearly on familiar roads I told John to go on with the bunch back to Oxford and I’d guide this lad home. I stopped him so he could eat an energy bar (stuffed in his under-saddle bag rather than where he could reach it in his back pocket). He was so cold he couldn’t undo the wrapper so I helped him with that. I found out his name was Paul and he was a bit of a runner, so he was fit but not used to cycling any great distance in adverse weather. We took it very steady back home – an average of 21km/h for those last 18km back to the ring road. Even a slight increase in my pressure on the pedals would drop Paul instantly. Eventually I got him back to the ring road at Marston where he could ride around the cycle path to his home in Wolvercote. I wished him well, said that perhaps next week he’d better wear another layer, and then headed back to Cowley. Some weak sunshine was coming through the clouds as I pedalled home.

I was fairly tired after all that riding in the rain. Jules had tidied away the plates and glasses from last night’s dinner, so I dozed a bit on the sofa in the afternoon. I think I might have to put a bit on the club run webpage explaining that you ought to be properly dressed for the time of year.