Around the 10 mile mark, I caught up with some of the group I had waved ‘goodbye’ to earlier. Together we continued at a steady pace ticking of the miles and trying to up the tempo. Then disaster struck. We turned a corner and started one of the numerous small climbs and I noticed that one of us was missing. We stopped and waited but 10 minutes later he had not appeared. This was a buddy we fondly referred to as our “Chief Shepherd” so we turned back to find out what had happened to him. We found him perfectly safe but with shoes and helmet off and his bike with both cranks pointing in the same direction! Sigh. The problem looked terminal and we had no tools to correctly re-install the left-hand crank.

Then something happened which typifies the camaraderie amongst many cyclists. Two different cyclists, the latter one with a group of friends, stopped and offered us tools, jokes and verbal encouragement as we wrestled to to take off the offending crank and properly re-install it. The cycling fraternity is a close nit and friendly group and you will almost always find help, encouragement and advice from other cyclists when you need it most. Why can’t the rest of society behave like the majority of cyclists? There must be something about cycling that turns selfish, self centered people into helpful, friendly and nice ones.

So disaster was averted for our “Chief Shepherd”.  He would have had to make use of the Uber application on his phone. I estimate we lost about half an hour to this ‘mechanical’ but it hardly mattered at that point. What mattered was that he could continue this fabulous ride. And it was a fabulous ride.Everywhere you looked you saw riders enjoying themselves despite the heat and the physical effort required to complete the ride. From the serious amateur cyclists on their £10k bikes to the charity riders in their weird outfits on their £200 bikes, all seemed to be having a good time in a mass feel good activity for a good cause. This is what cycling (and life) is all about.

We pressed on, me doing the bulk of the ‘pulling’ but getting some assistance from our Chief Shepherd from time to time. We were setting a good pace and we caught some of the ‘buddies’ we had waved goodbye to at the start earlier. I started to crank up the pace as we approached Ditchlin Beacon and found myself alone again.

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