Wednesday 30 July 2014

This was a challenge

Now, you may not have noticed it, but Sunday night was the second anniversary of the OPening Ceremony of the London Olympics.  You'll almost certainly know that this was one of the most memorable nights of my life.  We watched the Blu-Ray to re-enjoy the moment.  If you'd like to know what was going through our heads that night, do listen to THIS.  It's the In Ear Monitors with the calling instructions to does more than anything else to bring back the magic.

I said it wasn't that interesting, but I've mentioned it a couple of times...the Night Ride to Brighton.  I've done night rides before, and I've done rides to Brighton before, but I've never combined them.  I once did the ride on a tandem, having hired one from Snaresbrook, and rode it through London in the rush hour, including round Hyde Park to the start pint by myself.  I then picked up my passenger...erm I mean co-rider to complete the journey.  It was a blast.  When he was 13, The Boy and I rode from Brighton to Buckhurst Hill..that was an awesome achievement for him...we were both on mountain bikes, so heavy and unwieldy. We managed it...and I remain very proud of him for doing that.

So my ride was in support of the British Heart Foundation and I raised a couple of hundred quids for them...I don't have a particular affinity, but they organised it, so they got the money.  My first challenge was that because we were going to see Robbie Williams before hand, I couldn't ride the bike to the start point, and I no longer had the office to leave it in.  So I managed to find a store cupboard in the building and shoved it in during the morning.  After Robbie, I swiftly changed into my riding gear in the middle of the Gents, and hobbled off with The Cat's Mother (have you ever tried to walk in cycling shoes?!).  We kissed and went our separate ways...I managed to get the bike out of the cupboard and cycled to the start point down the street for my midnight start time.  It was then that I discovered, even before I started, that I had a puncture!  Fortunately, there were mechanics in the start area to sort me out...along with another 3000 fellow cyclists.  Off we went, our progress only hampered by traffic lights seemingly bent on stopping progress altogether.  Eventually we cleared the main city...a continuous stream of lycra-clad cyclists all quite relaxed and enjoying each other's company.  My ride was spent in the company of a girl who was also not in a team or with friends.  She was lovely, but a chatterbox.  I was grateful for the company...but she literally didn't stop talking for the whole 100km...I don't know how she managed it!

One bleak bit was coming down a hill to see a collection of half a dozen blue flashing lights on ambulances, a bike in one direction, a sprawled cyclist in the other...they'd lost control on the way down.  I heard later that they'd survived, but with serious injuries.  Hills were a major challenge (yes Surrey and Sussex is not quite as flat as I remembered), and even more of a challenge were the people who pushed their bikes up the hills...spreading themselves across and blocking the road.  I asked politely, but sometimes it was hard...

At the second refreshment stop, I started off again to hear a clank, clank, clank...a spoke had detached itself and wrapped itself round the rear gears.  Fortunately no damage done, and fortunately someone with some wire cutters could cut it off...

The final hill was the most difficult...up Devil's Dyke.  I've never failed to climb a hill before, but as I went up I realised I wasn't going to make it.  I was devastated.  I stopped, determined to start again when I had my breath back.  I did and made it.  I was pleased, but not half as pleased as when I looked down and realised it had been so difficult because I'd been in completely the wrong gear.  Not slightly, but totally. Actually my defeat had become a total triumph.  Elated?  You bet!

From there it was all down hill, and then along the seafront.  Sadly no free bacon butties on offer, but I got my medal and then found a cafe.  Relaxed, and feeling very, very happy with my exertions.  It had take five and a half hours.  Not bad, not bad at all.