The group was of mixed ability today, some experienced, some relatively new to road cycling, which meant quite a bit of stopping and starting, particularly on the hilly bits. It was a large group of 14, which cut quite a peloton on the roads and attracted plenty of abuse from angry motorists! Today's route was much hillier than you'd expect it to be, in fact, there were a couple of hum dingers, which really challenged the group.
The first one was a really long, steep drag, just outside of Folkestone, it seemed to go on forever. Four riders walked it, I managed to get up it, which is quite something, given that climbing has been my achilles heel to date.
The new bike has made a big difference. It's eight pounds lighter than my previous bike and it felt much easier going up. The second hill, was a nasty little incline. We went off route about four miles outside of Dover and ended up going down into a small valley, the corresponding climb back up the other side was steady, then very steep, a bit like Mow Cop. Nevertheless, I got up it, which really surprised me.
The time seemed to sail by today, before we knew it we had hit Dover after covering 87 miles en route, I took the train back to London and rode over to cycling cafe - Look Mum No Hands - for a welcome beer and a bit of supper en route back to the hotel. Had a few Garmin issues again today, it froze halfway through the route, so I lost my ride data. I nicked a photo of someone elses Garmin and with my ride back to the hotel, it was 92 for the day for me.
Key things for me today: -
- I don't feel like a total novice anymore. I was able to ride comfortably at the front of the group for much of today's ride.
- My hill climbing has really improved. I'm never going to be Alberto Contador being fifteen stone, nevertheless, hills that previously I think would have been insurmountable, today, I conquered.
- My Dolan Ares bike has been a big contributor to this new level of performance combined with the increased training miles I've been doing.
- Riding through the City of London tonight, was a real lesson. No one looks before they cross, most cyclists ignore red lights and the road is a free for all.