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Jun 15

Thursday head South – Rob Jennings Tour of Cambridgeshire 2022

Tour of Cambridgeshire 2022

By Rob Jennings

On a sunny weekend in June I ventured south to Peterborough to compete in the 2022 tour of Cambridgeshire. It was something that I was looking forward to all year and following some improvements to my aerodynamics, and some decent results in the races I had done so far this year, I was dreaming of perhaps upsetting the odds and qualifying for the World Grand Fondo championship event in Italy in September.

Arriving at the start early on Sunday I quickly made my way to the start area to ensure that I was in a good position to get away at the front. At 9:55, I found myself 2 rows back from the front and ready to slog myself for 100miles of fast closed road fun.

Off we go, and I felt good making my way in the front group. The pace was rapid, and cruising along the Cambridgeshire lanes at a brisk 25mph. What quickly caught my attention was the shear number of people lining the villages cheering us on. 25miles in I decided to look behind for the first time. Thinking a sea of bikes would greet me, I was quickly shocked to see nothing within vision behind. Wow, we are away from the 700 other starters I thought. The group of 40 were pushing hard and had forced a break. I couldn’t see another pink number in the group, meaning I was leading my age category. Could this be it I thought!!!

Descending into one of the villages at around 50 miles disaster struck, my saddle bag came loose and was hanging precariously so I had no option but to stop and resecure it. Why was that a disaster you must all be thinking. It wasn’t, but what followed once I got going was. I started to suffer with cramp on the top of both knees, in trying to ease it, both hamstrings then cramped. Oh no, I thought, maybe the 2 small bottles wasn’t a good idea for the ride, and maybe I had pushed too hard too early.

The next 20 miles were a battle. Trying to keep the pace up, whilst battling failing legs and the flat windy Cambridgeshire lands. I made it to around mile 70 with just over half a bottle left. Sod it I thought, I need fluids! I pulled up outside one of the many supporting houses on the route. This made my day, I asked for water and the lady outside rushed in quickly to fill my bottles up whilst having a right go at her husband for not been as prepared with the hosepipe like they were in recent events. It made me chuckle and appreciate just how much the locals enjoy this event.

On my way again with plenty of fluids, the legs were still ropey, but I was on the final stretch now. At 85 miles we went through a village on the outskirts of Peterborough that resembled the scenes in the tour de Yorkshire the other year. I was caught up in the madness of the event and at the top of one of the small hills in the village, there was a large group of young kids yelling supports. For a split second I felt like a pro, so thought, I know, I’ll throw them my empty bottle!!! The cheer that they gave was great, so I hope I made their day as much as the fans had made mine.

Mile 90 came along and suddenly, the legs fired back into life!!!! 10 to go I thought, let’s go for it! the last 10 miles flew by as I got back to cruising at 23mph again. The finish was in sight, I had managed to get to the finish and was well under the 5-hour mark. I pushed myself to the end and managed to finish in 4 hours 38mins. Pleased with my efforts managing to average 21.3mph all the way, I thought I could be close to qualifying having seen the results the last time the event was ran.

In the end, I didn’t make Italy. However, I managed 27th in my age category and 192nd overall out of approx. 700 entrants. I was pleased with that and my time would have been good enough to qualify in past event, just not this year.

Oh well, it was an experience I will remember and one I was truly grateful for. The atmosphere of the towns and villages was amazing.

Right Thursdays…….. who is joining me next year??? the event is on the 2nd and 3rd of July 2023. I’m heading back to give it another go, as I dream of chasing rainbows!!! Plus, the worlds next year are in sunny Glasgow. Logistically a little easier to get the pass past the wife, which is even more motivation!!!