It was my first niece's 25th birthday on Sunday, not sure if she reads this, but if not here's an official Mendup Rouleur Happy Birthday wish to you. Can you remember what you were like at 25? Or whenever the pivotal, "you-defining" period of your life was?
When U2 were about that age they were performing this at Red Rocks. I urge you to have a look at the clip if you can. See past the clothes and hairstyle, that are a bit dated, and look at the raw energy and enthusiasm the whole band, particularly Bono, are putting into it. I love everything about that performance, you don't have to be a professional psychologist to work out why.
I had intended for this blog post to be incisive and profound. But as it's already 2307 on Monday night, and I have a shed load of things to do before I go to bed, I better keep it brief.
Yesterday we went to Lyme Regis. The day did not get off to the best of starts. Despite getting up at a reasonable time, and planning ahead, I managed to leave the bag containing Laurens (complete with impeccably planned route) my sunglasses, recovery drink, etc. on the kitchen table as I drove the 20 miles down to Huntworth, near Bridgwater, and Martyn's factory (which he again kindly allowed us to use as the jumping off point).
So I got to drive home and back to Huntworth again, meaning a slightly delayed start, As we had a few new faces I did what passes for my kind of rider briefing. The irony about crashing, it's your own fault, came back to bite me on the proverbial a bit later on.
Anyway eventually we set off at around 9.15, all eight of us, with the determination to have a good day out, and stick together. No pressure, no racing, and a fairly low level of testosterone. Mostly.
It was sunny with the early morning mist all but gone, and a bit windy in places. But on the whole the weather improved as we moved further south and by the time we got to the outskirts of Lyme it was genuine Summer weather. Our circular route (almost) was hilly in places, especially near the coast. A bit too taxing for Lee, Anthony and Linda, but James, Martyn, Jon and Steve took it in their stride. But we were flagging a bit after the chips and fun of the prom, so we came home by a more direct route. Some of the climbs down in Dorset were of the 15-20% variety, and I actually enjoyed most of them.
I should have thought about more really, when Lee and Anthony told me their longest rides to date were in the mid 30s miles region, alarm bells should have wrung. Despite me constantly telling them that the worst was over and it was all downhill or flat, they didn't seem to believe me, and I hope I have not put them off. It's not always as tough as that, promise.
Here are a few snaps which I took. Look carefully and you can see the finger over the iphone.
Just outside Lyme Martyn and I slowed for another quick route conference, spreading confusion and disorder through the slow-moving peloton behind us. Bang! James and Anthony toppled into each other and ended up on the deck. Both seemed physically OK, but, more worryingly, their bikes were not so fortunate.
Steve to the rescue! He quickly trued Anthony's errant back wheel, and the collective endeavours of Martyn and the rest bodged James's front brake. Well. it got him home in one piece, and he even was able to stop at times.
On the way home we pulled across country via Chard and Illminster, rather than the planned Blackdown Hills. Maybe another day, when I don't forget the map.
So what of the day. Well, probably one of my favourites of the year so far, great folks, great scenery, an abbey, a priory, a couple of great museums, a stately home, a viaduct, plenty of eating options, some nice ups and downs, a few flat bits, and the weather was glorious by the end. And of course the sea. The British at play on the beach, and lots of friendly folk at the roadside.
No artifice, no pretence, no prima donnas, no macho posturing, no ego, just a bunch of people having fun on bikes, and doing it all in a good spirit, as a group. Loved it. Want more of it.
Will you come next time, I still have a desire to cross the Blackdowns and do Cothelstone Hill at 80 miles. Next time we can do it! Sometime in August? I was thinking that this is our time, right now. We may have lost our mullets, our leather trousers, even our love of the Rolling Stones, but we have something a bit greater than all that, don't we?