Chain reaction

I had been eyeing up the Easter bank holiday weekend as an opportunity to get in three consecutive long rides in preparation for the upcoming Tour of Wessex. In less than 8 weeks I will be cycling 534km (332 miles) and climbing 7,292 metres (23,924 feet) over three days.

This morning I set off from Stow on the Wold towards Broadway with the intention of spending a few hours climbing hills. I have recently started to believe in my own ability to ride a bike so decided to send myself on a soul-destroying up-down-up-down route to put my ego back in its place.

Riding along the back of a dragon does wonders for killing your spirit

I stopped briefly to take a photo of Broadway Tower, the second highest point in the Cotswolds, before a fast descent to the foot of Dover’s Hill, a regular feature of the annual National Hill Climbing Championships.

Broadway Tower - a famous folly. And a bike shortly before being ridden three times up Dovers Hill - an act of sheer folly

The winning time up Dover’s Hill in the 2010 hill climbing championships was an amazing 3:41 giving an average speed of 13.7mph. Today I climbed the hill three times with a best time of 7:07 at an average speed of 7.1mph.

The obligatory bike + road sign shot at the top of Dover's Hill

After deciding that three climbs of Dover’s Hill had classified me as medically insane, I headed off for an exhilarating 45 mph descent to Broadway followed immediately by the long climb to Snowshill. By this point I had covered 35 miles and was hoping for around 25 flattish miles towards home. However, before I had made it to some flattish land, the gods of cycling decided that it was time for a new and important lesson and promptly snapped my chain in half. Without an appropriate tool to fix the mechanical failure I was forced to freewheel back to a pub in Snowshill and call out the Broom Wagon.

My puny chain after feeling the full force of a hard morning's climbing

A well-earned beer and a well-destroyed chain

Fortunately my loving wife was willing to get in the car and collect me from the beer garden of the Snowshill Arms, but not before I was mildly humiliated by a herd of posh horse-riders for having an inadequate mode of transport. The shame! At least she didn’t arrive with a flashing light and brandishing a broom as had been suggested when I made the rescue call!

Even the horses were laughing

Tomorrow I will be heading down to the local bike shop to add a few more tools to my collection before hopefully having a more successful ride.

8 thoughts on “Chain reaction

  1. bgddyjim says:

    I noticed the nose down on the saddle of your borrowed (if I remember correctly) Fuji is quite steep – is that on purpose? I’ve always heard that perfectly level or a degree or two either way max is “best”. I’ve only ever tried to ride like that once and it felt like my butt was gonna slide off the saddle all the time.

    • jerzak80 says:

      I have been playing around with the setup recently and found that tipping the saddle forward made riding on the drops more comfortable. However the main problem is that the bike is too big for me. It’s borrowed from someone taller. This is another reason why I will soon be splurging on a new machine

      • bgddyjim says:

        Cool brother… New rides = Good.

        I might try that, just a little bit. I just slammed my stem and I’ve been working at getting comfortable being a lot lower.

    • jerzak80 says:

      Lugging a full 20 litre jerry can on my bike could be a good idea for extra hill training. I can see the headline now – “Cyclist spontaneously combusts on quiet country lane”

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