Just back, feeling slightly wobbly, from a two hour bike ride. It was a lot of fun, especially when the pace picked up running down the A38 from Sutton Coldfield back into the city centre. I was suffering a bit about two thirds of the way through, but we had an enforced stop when my neighbour in the pack's derailler broke off, snapping his chain. Good news for me (and the two blokes who nipped into the bushes), but pretty bad and expensive for him.
Last Thursday, I nipped out first thing to pick up my new specs. On the way back, I stopped in at Birmingham City Cycles to buy a new bike pump. While I was pumping away, another bloke (possibly the owner?) arrived. He brought out a big floor pump, inflated my tyres (which makes me think I've never ridden on properly inflated tyres before in my life), suggested my bike was too small for me, measured it in several different ways, confirmed it was, ordered me back into the shop to buy some chain lube, then as a kind of by the way, mentioned that he ran a 30 mile ride at 7 on Saturday morning and I could come along if I fancied.
I couldn't quite decide if he was being oddly friendly or mildly challenging, but after a brief consult with Natalie, she decided I should go. Thursday was also my birthday, and I'd been given some new cycling shorts and top, so clearly I had to use them. I spent Friday fretting mildly, nipping out to get a spare inner tube, one of those little saddle packs to carry it in, and so on.
I was worrying about nothing really, although I would guess that my bike was at the cheaper end of the 30 or so on display this morning. I don't wear a helmet, putting me in a minority of two, and I don't have clip-in pedals, putting me in a minority of one. Everytime the group stopped, there was this little round of click-click-clicking as everyone unclipped, and then another round as they slotted their cleats back in again. I was slightly overdressed too, and so finished up with my shell jacket stuffed down the back of my shorts.
It was odd riding in the group to begin with. I've never ridden at speed with more than one other rider, and that was years ago. In the city, you have to be very aware of your space and anything encroaching on it usually represents a danger, so it was strange to begin with. Once I'd relaxed a bit and got into the swing of things, it was really very enjoyable. Hal-baby's back at gymnastics next week, so the Saturday timetable will be a bit different, but I'll go again if I can.