Marple Grimpeurs 2, Napalmgram 0

Wednesday saw another trip up to marple, this time for the Staffs Peak Super Grimpeur. After last times debacle I reckoned not cycling TO the event was a good idea, so accepted a lift up there. But the plan was to do the ride and then cycle back home making full use of the 14 hours allowed for a 200km BR audax.

It was all looking a bit wet, grim and windy when we turned up in Marple. That seemed to have put plenty of people off, as only 17 out of 44 entries started. It slackened off a bit while we had a quick coffee waiting for the start. At set off there was only a slight drizzle so I ditched the waterproof and off we went up by the canal locks. Soon we’d cleared marple and were up on the tops with a stunning view all the way across Manchester to the west with some blue skies mocking us in the distance. Settled in to the rhythm of the day with a fast descent down to Kettleshulme and then settling in for a long climb out. The ride up from Errwod Reservoir up to the A54 was alongside a very full River Goyt with plenty of smaller streams in spate on either side. Plenty of surface water showed that there’d been a lot of rain overnight in the area.

A great drop down the road to Glutton bridge, though slightly sketchy with a lot of gravel having been forced onto the road with the rain and lots of puddles with no visible bottoms. Climbing up to the traffic lights I could feel my right foot slipping on the cleats so I stopped to take a look to find that the bolts had both come loose. Quickly tightening them up I tried to catch up with Bob and Pete from Derby Mercury who I’d been riding with, but I’d not got the cleat back on in anything like the original position. So I had a quick sit down on a wall just after Longnor to sort it out properly.

The next few climbs felt great and I was really getting into my stride. This really reinforced the belief that my previous failure had been down to my inability to deal with heat and my hopes were high for getting in the 200km ride I needed for August for the RRTY. Dropped through Wetton and picked up the signs for Wetton Mill and the first control. Dropping down a nice wooded road trying to take it carefully with the water, gravel and other debris. Came round a corner to find a white BMW coming uphill doing the same. No problems, I’ll just tuck in a bit and we’ll pass each other. Except I hit some gravel and the front wheel went, I tried to throw the bike the other way and ended up bouncing off the car and going back over and landing on my left hand side, scraping down the road for a bit, with at least one big bang to my helmet.

All over so fast that I’d barely registered it as I stood up. The driver had stopped and was jumping out as well. A quick stock was taken and I appeared to be able to stand and move everything so most of the classic cyclists breaks seemed to have been avoided. But I did have a lot of blood pouring out of my left knee. Unfortunately my front wheel was beyond repair and the handlebars didn’t look too healthy either.

I hobbled down to the control where the controller kindly offered to run me and my bike back to Marple after the field had passed through. I scrounged a cloth from the cafe and went into the gents to clean some of the blood off. Then discovered just how deep the cut was and how much debris there was in there. So quickly replaned with the controller to head back to Marple via an A&E department. Buxton minor injuries unit fitted the bill and I was quickly ushered in. The flap of skin was declared non-viable so was cut off, and a couple litres of saline and judicious tweezer usage got most of the rest of junk out. But I was given a weeks dose of antibiotics just in case. Got back to Marple in time to catch the field finishing and tuck in to the spare sandwiches

So I’ve new handlebars and front wheel to buy. I was thinking of getting a dynohub wheel later on this year but not sure if the pennies will stretch to that at the moment. And I’ll move my planned month off up to now as there’s now no RRTY pressure to get a ride in.

So here endeth my 2011-12 audax season. Not too bad in hindsight as I got another super randonneur in, and extended it to an SR25 or whatever it’s called. Plus picked up an AAA award as well.

So a month off and then I’ll start prepping for next year. More AAA, another SR and the big challenge will be the 1400km London Edinburgh London.

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