Sunday, 20 May 2012

Not all rides are good ones

And thus it proved today at the Etape du Dales.

It's no secret I have long been targetting this one as my real 'sighter' on whether I'm ready to go to France, so it was with great anticipation that Brett and I debunked to the Dales late on Saturday for the early morning start.

The weather, for the first time in 4 years, was benign. No rain, hardly any wind, but a bit chilly early on. Just about perfect really, couldn't have wished for much more.

We got going early, found an early group, and got into a good rhythm. Miles passed quickly, and the Dales countryside was utterly stunning. Langstrothdale, up to the bottom of Fleets Moss was an absolute picture. A better few miles cycling you will not find.

At the bottom of Fleets Moss, I found myself in unfamiliar territory (i.e. still in the group I started with). This was indeed a surprise, but a good one.

I was targetting 7:59:59 for a Silver Medal, meaning I had calculated my times required for each section. The first section, to Hawes, I had been quick on in 2008 when I posted 8:30:13 overall. Thus my calculations had me needing to beat my 2008 time to Hawes by just 2 minutes. By the bottom of Fleets Moss, I was feeling strong, not out of breath, and not having been pushing particularly hard. I was also just over 7 minutes up on my 2008 time! All things considered, I was assuming that the Silver was achievable already.

By the time we got a further 2.6km (and 133 metres of climbing) further up the climb, the advantage was up to nearly 9 minutes.

And then it all went wrong.

5km earlier as we crossed the river at Deepdale, there had been a metallic "clang" prompting Brett to ask "was that your chainset". "Yes" replied I, noting it was not the first time today I'd heard that noise.

Wrong again. Just before I reached the cattle grid at Nethergill, the noise came again, much louder, but with no obvious detriment. Until I took the pressure off the pedals, and the pawls in the freehub retracted, never to be seen again. No gears, nothing, freewheel both ways. 28.5km done, and another 140+ still to do, on what was now effectively a very expensive carbon-fibre kick-scooter.

There was no option, the choice made in seconds, turn round and go (walk) home.

I'm not particularly happy with the complete failure of an 8 week old set of wheels, but will be ensuring they get replaced. Take note Ribble Cycles, you will shortly have the opportunity to show how good (or otherwise) your customer service is.

Sometimes "stuff just happens" and there's nothing you can do about it.

I'm afraid my woes took the gloss off Brett's excellent performance as he returned having "left it all on the road" to get back in 7:02:17, less than 3 minutes outside Gold Standard. Chapeau mate!