After much moaning and gnashing of teeth about 'holiday legs' Chez Nous, Bruce and I were nearly late for the rabbits, so there was definitely no chance of easing into it with the mice. AA appeared to have become a hangout for TDU teams lost on their way to Stage 4 (ok, very lost), with an intimidating phalanx of matching kit. Gossip about whose mate had won which race replaced the usual topics of whose light batteries needed replacing and whether it was cold enough for long sleeves. As a long-standing old Bunny hubbard, I pronounced them all hounds before taking off after Cicla Pina at 6.00 on the dot with Bruce on my tail. I think we were all hoping for a tiny advantage on the scary Team Riders, but to no avail: they were onto us!
As Cicla Pina mentioned, he and Bruce led up Canty. I commanded Mr Mountain to hold a reasonable pace, and he must have thought someone more authoritative was speaking because he obeyed
But as soon as we started down the other side he started complaining loudly that it was too slow and couldn't he and I go up the front and push the pace? I told him to keep quiet and let the rest of us mere mortals recover from the climbing while we could.
As always, I sank like a stone to the back of the peloton up Deadman's but was heartened by Gus's passing remark that it was best to let 'them' burn a few matches. I didn't have the breath to mention that it was my bloody matches they seemed to be burning, not theirs!
We met Jen from HCC at the lights turning into Whitehorse - she explained later that she'd missed the start of the mice. She gave a strong showing in the rabbits all the way round to Doncaster where she seemed to get split off as we passed a rubbish truck.
The rolling turns were not really working this morning, despite some bellowing from the back (Mr Mountain's big mouth again I'm afraid...ok I may have relayed the message too). And I was nearly split off the group at some lights - had to work like billy-o to get back on. But actually, it was a good pace all round.
My special trick today was rolling through from the back to the front of the peloton just as the lights turned green, taking the lead several times, most notably and spectacularly at the bottom of Elgar - what this really means is that I was just hanging on the back of the group the whole way, so that by the time I got to the lights everyone else had stopped at, they had turned green and I could ride past (always very safely in the left lane, Ness). Still, it did get me out in front up Belmore which meant that I was only passed by most of the peloton halfway up the great Col, instead of at the bottom...
A chilly but most convivial coffee, after a brisk ride of 32 kph av. Thanks everyone!