sunday, stanmer cross. this race and i are developing a history. it is traditional that i start it feeling like hell because it's on or around my birthday and that makes me feel old. this year it was a couple of days early but i still felt like hell thanks to a day of riding north downs badly in good company on saturday (which always makes it worse) and then a rare migraine thanks to skipping too many lunches lately. wobbles and squiffy vision not the best preparation for hooning hard for an hour.
still, sun out, bike cleaned, breakfast forced, jersey on and many friends gathered to play and spectate. not a bad way to spend a sunday. nearly missed the start thanks to an apathetic bimble of a warm-up, begin at the back and "go!" we're rolling, elbows out, legs up, fast fast fast.
1 x twenty minutes: wheel watching, trying not to get in anybody's way, trying to pass as many people as possible, "you can vomit in my shoes if you like".
2 x twenty minutes: pass in a jiffy, beer hand ups, loving the trails, bacon aeroplane noises, someone tells me off for giggling as i undertake them "it's not funny" "no, it's hilarious!".
3 x twenty minutes: clock watching, counting down, ding-dong-avon-calling, are we nearly there yet, private battles, sprint for the line, dead dead dead.
happy legs, beer buzz, chatting, laughing and once the results appear shortly before the rain a sneaking suspicion is confirmed that i managed, somehow and despite all expectation, to be first lady home. day made, princess. pie, mash, peas, gravy from pokeno pies who treated us well and didn't grumble about the muddy boots, home to a warm bed and a cup of tea.
monday, tuesday, a brace of rides with good friends adding layers to the feel-good smiles. north downs, cheeky monday off, trails to ourselves, exploring, restoring, bakewell tart and tea, peaslake robin, golden trees through the mist, pin eyelids & drive home to the welcome warmth of the post-bath nap.
south downs, old-school tuesday night ride, filthy trails, minor mishaps, 'a while' sitting in the woods passing bottles and flasks and baking around, socks and nettle beer, final grins on donuts, new lines, reconvening, the same familiar ridiculous singlespeed drag race down lewes road to end, can't remember the last time i finished a 'fun' ride with this hacking racer's cough.