Tour of Cambridge



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Van envy.  That’s how our trip to ride in the Tour of Cambridgeshire started. A couple of us have talked for some time how nice it would be to have a van to travel to these events.  A place to cook your own porridge, sleep comfortably, be close to the start, and perhaps most importantly, safely transport your pride-and-joy (aka bicycle) to and from the ride. And we have a friend that really has one, and now we’ve seen it.

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Here we were, four members of TheDomestiqueCC group riding in our first big event together. They said 7,500 riders turned up to ride on one those glorious perfect-for-riding sunny days that you sometimes get here in England.  Perfect for a big, fast spin around some very flat terrain in Cambridgeshire.

The fastest riders would average over 40 kph to complete the 134 km course in a little over three hours. Working together we thought we could manage something close to that.  Then that plan all fell apart.

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Although we set ourselves pretty close to the front of the pack at the start, we immediately got separated trying to work our way through the seemingly endless crowd of riders in front of us.  There were some really unfortunate accidents at some of the pinch points along the route that reminded us to keep our heads and ride like a sportive and not a race. The ride support staff were on these mishaps really quickly.

Two of us finally worked our way though after about an hour, and we road the first 70 km together until we were separated by an errant rider, and yours truly just didn’t have the legs to catch back up as the train left the station.  We didn’t see the other two Domestiques the entire rest of the ride; evidently gobbled up by the immense peloton of riders.

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Domestiques not riding as a team made it harder for each of us. Unrelenting crosswinds and headwinds coming across the open fields were a big factor. The tailwinds seemed too few, but it often seems that way, doesn’t it?  Everyone talks about the rain here in England, but it’s the wind that often makes the hard work. Despite all that, the day was a perfect 20C, and the skies were bright blue and the sun shined a glorious yellow. And it felt good to blast across a pan flat closed road nearing 50 kph. Cruising, with a bunch in tow, like a domestique. Work. Work. Keep working.

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Many thanks for all the residents of the towns we rolled through and came out to cheer.  Without that support, closed road rides like this can’t happen.

At the end of the day, each one of us put in a big effort and gave it our all.  It became obvious when we returned to the van that very the spirited riding had taken it’s toll. The work was done for the day, and now it was some time for some rest. The van greeted us with some well deserved cold ones that we eagerly toasted even before the HR monitors came off.

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By the time the weekend was finished, the #vanenvy that started the trip had turned into full on #jealously.  Next time, we’ll have to work a little harder to ride together. It would certainly be easier for all of us.

Mark Roberts

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