Team member South & City College Birmingham Principal Mike Hopkins’ blog


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Sunday 24 November 2019

It’s still another 7 months until the ‘Tour de France a day ahead’ ride but the training has now started. It’s early Sunday morning, it’s cold, only 5 degrees C, dull and drizzling and there’s a club ride ahead of over 100 miles. If this was a normal November I’d stay in bed for a few hours until the rain stopped! And definitely wouldn’t be riding anything close to 100 miles. The part of this ride I’m looking forward to most is the finish! I ride to Bromsgrove to meet the others for an 8.30 start to find that only 2 people (Lawrence and Jackie) are joining me. No doubt the others have thought better of it and some extra hours in bed.

We are riding a lumpy route out to Ross on Wye taking in the Malverns and Upton on Severn and it’s wet, mucky and cold so we’re in full winter gear. Only 25 miles into the ride and Jacqui gets a front puncture. She was struggling to get the tyre off so I took it over for her, getting cold and dirty hands as a result. A few miles further on, she gets a rear puncture. To save time I do it for her again, getting even colder and dirtier.

Whilst there aren’t any massive long climbs there are lots of shorter steep ones and some long drags to sap your energy. Amusingly the route has 2 long dirt track sections which are muddy – not the norm for this ride!

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At 50 miles there’s a welcome coffee and food stop in Ross on Wye (extended stop due to the weather). Our choice of venue was limited by the fact that most of Ross on Wye seems to be shut! We get excellent coffee – and a bottle of Coke but pasties are the only hot and substantial food. Lawrence at this point is contemplating catching a train home! But of course, in no time at all we’re back on the road and as was the case for the first 50 miles I’m riding on the front. Simply because I’m the fittest right now and it means I stay slightly cleaner. Lawrence doesn’t really know what a headwind is as he never experiences one!

Upton was probably a mistake given all the rain and the flooding which is just too deep to ride through in parts so we have a number of detours, including yet another off road section.

Lawrence is struggling up the inclines but as we don’t leave anyone behind, we end up far slower than planned. It’s getting dark as I finally pull onto my drive 103 miles done, and then the highlight of the ride – a hot shower!

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