It’s turning into a guest post week at X&HT. This suits me very well – I’ve been up to my earlobes in other writing, and it’s always nice to see what other Team-mates are up to.
With that in mind, I’m delighted to present Doco Domsy’s report on the annual Norwich 100 cycle ride in support of the British Heart Foundation. This is a big event for an important cause which I know is close to his heart and…
Hell, why don’t I just shut up and let him tell the story?
It all started, I guess, with my mate Bill. We met through the bike shop that he used to own and run in Cambridge called Taurus Cycles. This was in the mid 80s. I had just started to get interested in cycling. I worked at Taurus while at school and college. Bill and his partner in the business Mark helped me learn the ways of the spinning wheels. I raced until the age of 21. I believe I learnt a lot in those early days of cycling.
Fast forward to May 2012. I still have three Taurus bikes from all those years ago. One a pink track bike, a winter bike with mudguard eyes and my best road racing bike. I got back on the winter bike for the Norwich 100. I would have preferred to have ridden my best bike but it is in France, where I spend a good chunk of my time (Dom’s French cycling adventures are a subject for a whole other post – R).
Bill and I usually go for one ride a week on Sunday. In the last few months I have ridden out to pick him up. This gives me 10 miles on the bike before we start to ride together. We have been riding between 15 and 30 miles together. I then have a 10 mile ride home. So we had a base for the century around Norfolk.
In the week leading up to the ride Bill was on holiday so we packed in more rides. My mile total before the Norwich ride was 200.
We both rested on Saturday, the day before our test. I had liver, potatoes and asparagus for dinner — no booze!
We were at the start in Norwich by 7.30am. I took some photos while we listened to a man in a yellow suit with a microphone. He was getting us in the mood for what lay ahead. The mayor gave a count down and we were off. There were around 3000 people doing the ride. We could choose 25, 50 or 100 miles. Bill and I had opted for 100. Bill needs the miles for a ride he’s doing later in the year in Sweden and me … well, I do like a challenge. When I am back on these old bikes something inside me just thinks I am just as young and fit as I used to be when racing. This of course is not the case and may well change when I get a new bike!
We set off at a gentle pace enjoying the spread of riders up ahead. The course was basically flat, the most testing factor being the wind and how comfortable you are able to stay while in the saddle. We must have still been within the first 10 miles when a loud crack came from Bill’s bike. What was that? You never want it to be anything too serious so usually say something like, “was that something kicked up from the road?”. In this case no, it was Bill’s £140 carbon fibre seat pin that had ceased to be. This did not help the mood. I left Bill and headed up the road, there would be a mechanic on the way soon. He called me, I pedalled back to him, the pin was not rideable. Not a good start to the ride. Bill and I had a testing exchange and I headed on my way. Not fun at all for Bill to be foiled so early on.
Bill’s story did not finish there. He waited 2 hours for a new seat pin and completed the 50 mile route. Not a bad end, the miles will help him in Sweden and it is never fun to not complete something.
I got to the half way point at Sheringham School at 11.00am. On these kinds of rides you catch a conversation here and there. Each side gives some of their life experience by what is said and how they are riding and on what.
I stopped for an hour, munching on my home made sandwiches and taking in more fluid. I spotted someone in a Space Invader cycling top, this made me smile. (Dom and Invader is a subject for a whole other post – R) A little tweak with my gears and I was off for the second half. My mum was waiting in West Runton. I stopped and we chatted about how the ride was going. I decided not to take any water from the team car. I had been drinking well.
Just like me, all the cycling I do nowadays takes my mum back to my racing days. She and I would go to most races together, our car stuffed with all that a racing cyclist needs to try and win.
I was on the coast now so views of the sea and lower temperatures helped me along. Through Cromer, known for its crabs, at Mundesley the course came away from the coast I was heading for the rest stop at Horsey Mill. Two chaps from the Diss Club caught me up. We worked well together and this sped us along this part. More water taken on at this stop and a coconut bar.
After this I passed an old boy going well. He had a nice woolly Brooks jersey and Reynolds 531 British racing green frame. I guess that could be me in a good few years!
I still had my rhythm while watching the mile count down signs appear. At 20 miles to go I started to chat with a guy who had just spent three weeks in Singapore; he deals in aircraft. His wife had said something along the lines of not really understanding why anyone would want to cycle 100 miles just for the fun of it. She should try it and I am sure she would see why.
We sailed past the last rest stop, the finish was not far. Big ring rolling to help eat up the last miles. It was hot, the road was melting, I joked about how the tar can retread your tyres.
A few gentle slopes (?) in the road were enough to make me slip back from my temporary friend on the road. Norwich was now under 5 miles away. A couple of stops at traffic lights breaks up the last testing bits of tarmac.
The finish was back at the Cathedral grounds, through an arch the crowd were wishing everyone well over the line, no victory salute! Just the sense of pride, a good thing done to help others. A medal with red ribbon placed over the head and a cool half pint of local ale as reward.
We enjoyed the grounds for a gentle hour and then headed back to the car. Some locals in a pub asked how far I had gone. They seemed impressed with my 100 mile journey, I thanked them.
This one will not be forgotten and I have a strong feeling that I will be back for more next year.
A heroic effort there, I’m sure you’ll agree. Dom’s fundraising page is still active. If you’d like to support the cause, check him out on his BHF page.