Date: Sunday 26th July, 2015
Distance: 29.9km | Elevation: 358m
Start kms: 5,235.6km | Finish kms: 5,265.5km | % complete: 52.7%
Destinations: New Cross – Mottingham – Knockholt
You know it’s not a good ride when I don’t have the wherewithal or the want to reach for my phone and take a few photos.
Months ago, Ashley signed-up to the Rapha Womens 100, a challenge designed to get as many ladies out on their bikes as possible and covering some serious distance.
A day on the bike at the end of July – the height of British summer – seemed like a great way to spend a Sunday. Agreeing to join her, I excitedly planned a route way back in March. Gorrod and I even did a recce at the end of that month to identify any major areas for concern that we should look to avoid (that was the one where Gorrod bonked, if you remember).
It turns out the March version of the ride held abundantly better weather than the July one. Taking a leisurely approach to the day, we got on the road just after 09.00 and the rain had already begun.
To quote Ashley, from there on in it was “relentless”. Without the slightest let-up, we pedalled on and were soaked through to our socks by 10km. By 20km I could feel the puddles of water sloshing around inside my shoes.
It was me that was beginning to lose patience, with Ashley staying good-humoured despite the onslaughts. Mounting my iPhone onto my handlebars so we could direct ourselves to Royal Tunbridge Wells had been a fine proposition in theory, but in practice the amount of rain hitting the screen throughout the ride meant my phone kept thinking I was relentlessly hitting buttons. The result was the route either redirecting or disappearing from my screen completely.
Despite my best efforts, forever-wet hands meant I couldn’t rectify this without pulling over to the side of the road and taking the phone from its case. As I did this for the fourth time in 30km, with Ashley and I sheltering under a tree, it was time to call it a day.
This wasn’t going to be the last time I’d have to do this, the roads were slippery and dangerous (and quickly filling up with traffic), the puddles in our shoes had become small lakes, the rain was here to stay and our waterproof clothing wasn’t up to the mark.
We admitted defeat at 30km and got on the train from Knockholt back to New Cross, Royal Tunbridge Wells still a far-off aspiration.
This was a timely reminder to make the most of the nicer suymmer months whilst they’re still around.