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1000 Xmas Kms: Raeburn reports
FRIDAY 25th DECEMBER
Weather: A dismal start in the dark, clearing toward midday, perfect cloudless skies for the return leg.
Route: A loop south of London, over Ashdown Forest to Seaford, along the coast road to Eastbourne, return to London over my favourite North Downs.
A pre-dawn start, onto the quiet roads, leaving London before lighter shades of grey indicated daybreak. Riding over the South Downs and through the Ashdown Forest (home of Pooh Bear) I thought I was in for long and grim day in the saddle. Progress was slow due to unpredictable icy patches, but I pushed on hard in order to make my deviation to Alfriston, the 'High and Over', and the coastal road. A stop for a cup of tea and (more than) a few biscuits with Great Aunt Tess, and back north towards lunch with the family, before taking the long way home and a last kick over Titsey Hill in the quiet darkness.
Finally riding the street luge course on Beachy Head road; super smooth tarmac, gorgeous. The roads were so perfectly quiet, it was like being in the mountains again… Pushing up on over the last big climb of the day under and crisp white half-moon, before the easy run back into London.
Seeing the well-used and maintained cycle speedway track outside Polegate, great to see a resurgence of the sport.
A long day in the saddle, I was stopping for breaks with family, but the duration and temperature was exhausting.
Some poor squirrel decided to end it all by lobbing himself between my wheels, through my revolving cranks, headbutting the inside of my ankle and bouncing back onto the road. Scared the life out of me, but hope you're ok little fella. [err… if he isn't dead - Ed.]
I know I have to be disciplined in keeping the bike maintained, so find myself in the dark garden, washing down the Enigma, sensing there's plenty more of this to come.
SATURDAY 26th DECEMBER
Weather: Occasional heavy showers, but clears for a perfect afternoon.
Route: A recovery ride, out to Richmond Park for a few laps with Dominique Gabellini, Rapha Condor Directeur Sportif.
I wake up in the dark, aching. Memories of the Cent Col's as I get ready, the same drill as yesterday, everything prepared the night before. Dress, eat, refill, one final check of the weather and off. Richmond Park is a great facility to have, a circuit is about 10km, some polite hills, traffic limited to 20mph, always people to bump into. We ride a few laps, me thinking 'piano piano' until we get wrapped up with London Dynamo bunches and the red mist comes down. I learn a lot from riding with Dominique, he points out how I should improve the distance I keep from the wheel in front, shows me a training technique to improve my kick, acts with assertive etiquette when in a group, whilst looking effortlessly stylish at all times.
Talking with Dominique over a coffee, about the team, crit racing, training tips and bike set up - I've got a lot to learn.
A puncture 200m from the end of my final lap. By the time I get home I am totally spent. Nothing left. So much for a recovery ride, the last thing I want before tomorrow's ride with Kristian. Cleaning the bike, again.
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