Hanging on… just

Map reference: Cafe Bean ride into the Surrey hills, 65k

Carbs and caffeine: Cafe Bean, Ashtead,¬†http://www.bikebeans.co.uk/… our promised midway stop wiped out by serial punctures

I am going to have to be quick today, but to give you a general idea, we started with 13 people and I just about managed to be in the first bunch of six back. In between we had three punctures and split into three different groups. This wasn’t down to carelessness on anyone’s part, I hasten to add. One guy fell off the back very fast because he was on a cyclocross bike and there were two to three ‘leaders’ so no one was actually abandoned. I had to work really hard to keep up with the front group, spurred by the thought that my screaming legs could only be good for me. Through Stoke D’Abernon I must have lost concentration and fell off the back of the peloton. I had to work really hard to clamber back on, tantalised by the fact that I could see the riders at the back freewheeling.

So six of us finally scrambled back to Cafe Bean for our shot of caffeine and the others came in behind us, to tell their tales of woe. Keith, one of the leaders, introduced himself and, on being told of my Etape plans, was plain speaking enough to point out that I need to be lighter. To explain, I look fine in a pair in jeans, but I do not look like a climber in my Lycra. Such comments are perfectly normal in cycling circles, and anyway I was too busy concentrating on scooping up the last bit of froth from my cappuccino to take offence. Real cyclists drink their coffee black and short, to save on calories and wee-stops.

To illustrate how tired I was – and maybe Jo too – we rounded off the morning by trying to remember whether, in response to Keith’s comment, Jo had said I looked like a heifer, or whether she had said I didn’t look like a heifer. Neither of us was sure…

Note to self: next time bring two bottles of water. That poor chap who you blagged half a bottle off probably needed it himself.