A couple of years ago I discovered that Twitter was a good place to follow bike racing - it was during the Tour of California, and I had heard somewhere that Johan Bruyneel was live-tweeting the race from the team car. I signed up, picked a few people to follow & sat down to "watch" the race. Pretty soon, fellow cycling fans began to find me, and one of the first was a local guy, Rich, a.k.a. @hardboiled2006. We chatted about the pros at first, who we were cheering for in California and then in the spring classics & the Giro; we moved on to discussing our own cycling (him: a regular rider putting in hundreds of miles a year on a flashy road bike; me: just taking it up again after 12 bikeless years, pottering about on a tatty old rescued-from-the-tip mountain bike.) Often we just chatted, getting to know each other through an online presence of 140 characters or less. Finally, a year or so later, we met, and when I got my first road bike we rode together. We got in a couple of rides over the summer - easy, chatty social rides for him, which left me feeling pleasantly pushed (it's far too easy to relax & slow down when you're riding alone,) but when autumn came around life - and filthy weather - got in the way.
Weeks went by when we half-heartedly agreed to arranged something, then a new year's eve coffee and a twitter-chat and the ride was on at last: something between 20 and 35 miles, a nice relaxed pace, the all-important coffee stop. We met at the Minster on Monday morning, joined by Tom and another twitterer, Matt, and headed out of town for a 21 mile loop through some of the prettiest villages to the south of town. We set off along the river to Bishopthorpe, then on to Appleton Roebuck through the middle of a pheasant shoot - I'm used to checking the road for hazards, less used to looking up and dodging falling wildfowl! The one "hill" of the day was the double railway bridge at Colton, from where we crossed the A64 (lordy, how I hate that junction!) to Askham Bryan and back in to town to my favourite café, Gray's Court to refuel and thaw our toes.
21 miles, plus to & from the city centre starting point
1 hour 58 minutes riding, another hour or so drinking coffee