Emily Conrad-Pickles one of the riders who took part in our second social road ride, shares her experience of the day.
While thousands took to the start line of the London marathon on Sunday, 7 ladies and Gavin, this month’s token bloke, were arriving at Epsom station for the start of the second Total Women’s social 60 mile cycle. Blessed with bright blue skies and the thermometers reaching balmy heights of 14 degrees, we set off to track the tail end of a local sportive route. Following this route had proved handy as team leader Kirsty was still getting to grips with her shiny new Garmin 810, so we spent much of the day following a series of very well positioned red arrows.
With a group of mixed abilities, after we had a few miles in the bag, the group was successfully split into two groups deciding to meet at the half way point for some lunch. A special thanks to Gavin (editor Kirsty’s other half) who volunteered to lead the slightly slower paced group. Secretly, we think he might have been hoping this would happen in case he could not keep up with Kirsty on her extremely speedy new Trek Madone 5.2.
Off we went to enjoy the ride in our different groups but little did we know the mechanicals that Gavin's group would suffer.
As we all know, and if you don’t – listen up – when attempting a long ride, it’s vital you come prepared. If you think you need one bottle of water, take two, have enough food on you to last the length of the ride, make sure you take a spare inner tube with you, and always know who you can call if you have a problem that you can’t fix.
During the ride Justine fell into difficulty when the rear derailleur hanger snapped clean off her bike. Gavin quickly recognised it was a problem that couldn't be fixed with the spares they had and that a rescue trip to the bike shop was required.
As fortune had it, the Reluctant Cyclist and her chap, John were still in the area. John had had somewhat of an admin nightmare earlier on and forgotten his shoes (as a regular contributor to TWC’s sister site, Road Cycling UK, he should really have known better) so he didn’t join the ride. They were waiting to meet us at halfway, so Reluctant Cyclist drove to the rescue, John crammed Justine and Lucy's bikes into the car (along with Justine and Lucy themselves and his two Rhodesian Ridgebacks - it was cosy!) and Reluctant Cyclist drove them back to the station to get home.
It is worth noting, we were fortunate to have a rescue team to call but luckily when you are cycling around Surrey, you’re never too far from a bike shop so we could always have called in a taxi to take Justine to the nearest bike shop or station.
For the remainder of the group – the Surrey hills awaited us with just over 60 miles cycled and over 4500 feet climbed in total – including a brutal 18% climb that lasted around 15 minutes (thanks John for plotting that one in to the route). Luckily none of the group were at all competitive (ahem, Kirsty and Emily!) so we all paced ourselves nicely and didn’t race up the hills as quickly as we could. Aoife, despite being a mountain biker at heart, put us all to shame with her exceptional cadence up and down the hills.
It was fantastic to see so many people out on their bikes and as ever the camaraderie that is formed between cyclists, even if they don’t know one another, meant there were always shouts of encouragement to one another on the hills.
A pit stopped was called at Cranleigh to wait for Gav and Suzanne to catch us up and we could all ride together back to Epsom and we gathered in a pub beer garden. It is safe to say, if you happen to chance upon the Little Park Hatch just outside Cranleigh, probably best to keep cycling on until you reach the next pub, but, we’re not here to review pubs – and fed and watered, albeit with record slow service, we raced back to Epsom enjoying the end of a beautiful day in the Surrey hills.
Overall, it was another fantastic day on the bikes with a group of fab ladies. The sun shone almost all day and a it was a top effort by everyone who joined the ride.
We hope you all enjoyed the day and we look forward to seeing you, and hopefully others, on the next ride.
As the Total Women’s Cycling social group rides are still in their infancy, each time we learn something new about how they should be run and the level of cyclists that join in. It is our ambition that in time, we will have a number of groups for different abilities available. From the data we collected on the last two rides we will post the average we rode at so you can assess whether you’d like to join in.
Don’t forget, we’re also organising the first Total Women’s Cycling mountain bike ride, we’ve posted more details in our forum. Hope you can join us.