Unlike the Fusion CC Sunday Rides with the A group, the midweek rides are comprised of either retired or self-employed people who can get the time off, and the pace is a couple of miles per hour slower. And, trust me, that’s a huge difference. For me, it’s the difference between nailing myself to the wall and enjoying the pace.
It’s about 8 miles from my house to The Rutland Arms at Holmesfield, so I allowed 45 mins for a gentle ride to warm up. Warm up being the operative word as it was 2 degrees when I set off, and with a steep descent almost as soon as I leave the house I sensibly put my light showerproof jacket on. It’s great for keeping me warm, but with any exertion it’s like being in a turkish bath, not nice.
Although still chilly, once I’d passed through Barlow and started heading up Dobbin Lane to The Rutland Arms I stopped to remove my jacket and take a photo of a knarled tree and a large area of crazy paving mud (see photo). As I continued climbing I caught up with Phil and we cycled the rest of the way together.
I haven’t seen Phil in a while, so it was great to catch up on developments within the club since I last rode with them (not including last Sunday).
At the top, Steve was already there and the first thing he noticed was my new stem and the fact that it was angled up – got my leg pulled about that! But comfort over vanity, that’s me. Les was there too. Barry (club secretary) and Alex (I’ll call him young Alex to avoid confusion) turned up last and made up the rest of the group.
After a quick discussion on the route we moved off, headed up the road towards Owler Bar but turned off and into Millthorpe for the cat 4 descent back into Barlow, up Fox lane and left for the Unthank climb. I’d not done this climb for probably a year or more and had forgotten how long it went on for (1.6 miles @ 5%) but you can’t beat a narrow country road with no traffic, verdant verges and overhanging trees to give a sense of well-being even if you end up quite breathless at the summit. Young Alex showed us all what he could do on climbs, reaching the brow of a climb, returning back to us and climbing it again with us. Youth, such a bitch.
From there we headed over to Beeley Moor and on to Matlock. Passing through Matlock we did the Matlock Spa Climb, which is only 0.3 of a mile but at an average 17% incline you know you’ve done it. What I don’t believe is the VAM figure Strava says I achieved – 1450. Really?
OK, so what’s a VAM? It stands for Vertical Ascent in Metres. So 1450 means you would ascend 1450 mteres during the course of an hour. Normally, in my present state of fitness I would do about 7-800.
On the return leg we all stopped off at our usual cafe in Beeley where, from the conversation, I gathered young Alex was either riding for a semi-pro or pro team, but who knows, I may have got the wrong end of the stick.
Predictably, we climbed Hell Bank to get ourselves homeward bound. I parted company with the rest of the group at Loads Road, heading into Chesterfield and home. Great ride with decent weather, if a bit chilly!