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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Winter Training Rides: The Happy Cheese Chain Gang!




Traditionally winter has been about getting the miles in. Long, steady distance followed by the wakeup call of early season races, urgently reminding that speed needs to be trained. Times have changed anyone serious about their racing will keep some quality work in the off-season and the Happy Cheese chain gang is one place to find it. This well-established training ride leaves the Happy Cheese pub in Ashurst in the New Forest at 09:30 every Saturday. Two groups set out across the forest, the slower one soon turns off on a shorter route but they will meet up again later. A sprinkling of local road men, triathletes & top testers, keep the pace high in the fast group, bit n’ bit, thru and off, call it what you want as long as it’s hard. 20, 25, 30 revs on the front, a flick of the elbow, swing off, drop back and slot into the line, millimetres from the wheel in front, trust is essential. It’s a good old fashioned chain gang; no quarter is asked or given. If you are shelled out, lick your wounds and come back next week. Similarly, if you puncture you are on your own, tough luck but that’s how it should be. The two groups head south to Ringwood and Bransgore, somewhere around here the slow group is caught, most jump on the caboose of the fast moving train and more than a few hang on. Up Thorney Hill and out to Burley, the stronger riders take longer turns as the pace starts to tell. The relay continues to Brockenhurst then across the heath to Beaulieu where a truce is called at the tea shop. “Local Riders, Local Races” is an occasional member of the gang, usually riding out to Stony Cross, jumping into the pace line and taking a turn before peeling off near home. This is a quality ride with quality riders, even in wind and heavy rain the work goes on!
The Happy Cheese chain gang meet at 09:30 every Saturday at Ashurst on the A35 in the New Forest.

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