After breaking my ankle in 2010 I took my hardtail mountain bike on a road ride, with the aim of regaining my fitness and using the smoother roads not to aggravate my injury.
It was a pretty successful ride and spurred me to buy my first proper road bike. After a lot of research and chatting with friends who had been serious roadies, I found a bike that fitted exactly what I was looking for; a Canyon Roadlite 7.0.
Road cycling is very different to being on the trails. The bikes are incredibly light, you carry a constant high speed and rarely have to use your brakes. You don’t have to think every second about which line to take nor scan ahead for potential hazards.
You often ride in a group when road cycling and soon learn the benefit of being in the middle of the pack. It’s a very social experience, with rides lasting up to four hours, you can move around the pack and talk to a lot of different people.
“Roadies” usually run their pedals as ‘clipless’ – which actually means you’re clipped into the pedals. This helps with efficiency and you don’t really need to take your feet off very often. A common happenstance is that people new to clipless pedals forget they’re attached to the bike when coming to a stop. I remember this happening to me; as I toppled over into the verge at no speed at a junction.
When I started with Stafford Road Club I ventured on their 25–35 mile rides. However, I soon realised that distance was relatively easy within a group and the two hours went by quickly. Eventually, I joined the Sunday rides which were on the road for four hours and travelled between 50 and 60 miles.
A common goal with road cycling is a century ride. 100 miles. The equivalent in running might be a marathon although I don’t think it quite matches up. If you average 16 miles-per-hour it would take you six and a quarter hours, which is a long time to be in a saddle for. I have achieved the 100-mile distance on two occasions.
Cannock Chase 100
In July 2013, me and two friends took part in the official Cannock Chase 100 sportive. This ride started and finished at Shugborough Hall and was our first experience of the distance. We rode to the start from Stafford, which was a short 9-mile downhill spin. However, I forgot we would have to ride this 9 miles uphill back after the 100 miles, so I ended up completing 118 miles.
The Cat and Fiddle
In October 2013, Stafford Road Club took part in The Cat and Fiddle ride. This event started from Brian Rourke Cycles in Stoke, so the group set off early to ride to the start from Stafford. This organised sportive is named after the famously scenic Cat and Fiddle road, which winds from Macclesfield to Buxton. After finishing the sportive, the group headed back to Stafford. When we went our separate ways I was 10 miles short of the century. I decided to take a longer route home and finished with just over 100 miles completed.