I decided to take the Thorn, with resealed Rohloff hub (no cracks yet…). I set off with Liz. & Charlotte but after a few miles the hills took their toll and I was riding alone. I was quite pleased with my pace, though, and to begin with the wind was not too troublesome.
Somewhere near Gosfield, I spied a buzzard soaring away to the left, and then spotted a lonely cyclist, all in black, mobile phone in her ear. ‘Twas Liz. Where was Charlotte? Apparently the dear gal had suffered a fairy bite, told Liz, who had been under the weather for much of the week and was struggling a little for speed (not surprising really since they rode up from London to the ‘Uts in the traditional style, although without their racing wheels strapped to the front) to carry on and then Charlotte had missed a turning and was half-way to Chelmsford. Liz & I rode together to the Coggeshall café. Just before we got there, we had to execute a tricky right turn from the fast and nasty A120 and as I was signalling and pulling out two motons chose to overtake, using the right-turn lane to do so. My right signal turned elegantly into a two-fingered salute, which the BMW driver acknowledged with a flash of his hazard warning lights. Why are BMWs’ hazard lights fitted with an off switch?
Cake and coffee was had, but still no Charlotte. We had arrived at this control about 35 minutes before it was due to close, and I knew the wind would be more troublesome on the return to the ‘Ut, so I sought Liz’s permission to make a move. Just as I left, Charlotte arrived, not in the sunniest mood I had seen on her. I think her wheel required some more attention.
I carried on, taking a break by the Felsted School cricket ground, where quite a few England cricketers cut their teeth, but where I ate a marmite sandwich, and not long afterwards, somewhere near Lindsell, I detected a presence. On looking over my shoulder, there was Charlotte, closely followed by Liz, having caught me about 20 miles after the coffee stop. From that point we three rode more or less together, although when the hills began again I dropped back. For the last 10 miles the wind was almost entirely unhelpful, and I was really hoping that Charlotte was in agreement with Liz’s suggestion of missing out the last 32 miles and having a pub lunch instead.
It was an excellent decision, and I had just settled down with my pint when I discovered my daughter’s gleeful text message with the result from Croke Park. I was warm, dry and out of the wind, with good company, Wales had won the Triple Crown and the beer was having an analgesic effect on my knees. Bliss!