Playing catch up 4

Chris in Ireland and Tim busy. Henry and I spend the night on the Cabby before going for a Dun Run. Get the miles in the legs 120 miler and similar gung-ho chat.

The tandem is not an option for me to bring back on the train so I am on the Brompton and we fix up Justine’s beautiful, orange, hardtail Kona Lavadome – an original one that has previously done both the Dun Run and the North Himalaya plateau.

We lift it down to the pontoon and, of course, the tyre goes flat. Again, I can not find the right tube. Inner tubes are proven fans of Douglas Adams and, like biro’s they hide when you need them. The wheels are smaller than the Kona Sutra I discover. I also find the missing tubes for the Helios Circe that were nowhere to be seen a couple of weeks back. Even more obscure, tubes for the beautiful and expensive Pacific Reach IF – sadly crushed between my neighbours barge and the shore when he was borrowing it. While interesting to see it folded in a completely different way than intended, it was 1.6k down the drain as you smile and say, ‘don’t worry about it, accidents happen’ or something similar. Still gutted as it was a designers wet dream. I digress.

Tube patched. Henry exclaiming about what a real bike feels like and we are off. It is even still early – 6.30ish, no less! Up the Limehouse Cut, out through Epping. Tracking the route on Strava makes checking directions easy without anything annoying as Sat Nav talking to you.

I have the advantage of the Brighton ride in my legs, much as I hated it at the time, and feel as though I can ride for ever. Henry is strong for the first 40 miles and then the pass slows. Fair enough, we have covered a whole county and over 60 miles by the time we reach Sudbury. Lunch and a train home to collect the children in time – again! – seem to be a far better idea.

Although, I had to collect the children from a play date at a charming house on Elsworthy Road –  a strange road that runs alongside Primrose Hill (NW3), but is neither that or quite St Johns Wood (NW8), which I like. The children are still eating and I have to remove my shoes while waiting. Not good after a ride and I am painfully self-conscious, to the extent of wishing I had faced the wrath of being late…



Playing catch up 3

Tim can’t get the day off, but is likely to let the team up by being the only fit member, so this is not really an issue. Henry is also busy, so I set off on the Brompton from Sailing Barge Cabby almost on time having cleared the decks (no pun intended) of the work I needed to do.

Grey weather, threatening rain, and a headwind making the most of the non-aero-dynamic front bag that Brompton’s sport. I am knackered by the time I get to Streatham with Brixton Hill sapping any strength I may have had. Chris arrives and he too is without a map. 66 miles to Brighton and the two people with the worst sense of direction I know are having to work from memory – I mean, the Marrakech Atlas Etape is a single road up and down and we struggle not to get lost on that – what could go wrong.

I struggled. Rose Hill, that dreadful slog past Sutton, Mitcham or somewhere. Main roads eventually stop as we turn onto the Dorking road, cross the M25 and pass the Pfeiffer factory. Christ this is hard (pun intended). Chris feeds me a bar of some sticky muck and the liquid foulness of a gell – as he describes below, I am in dire need of food.

Beyond Box Hill, the staff at the small post office, general store combo we stopped at looked shocked as I purchase Lucazades, greasy bacon and cheese number, 4 snickers and a couple of packets of jelly babies, however, it hit the spot and around 30 miles in I had warmed up.

The Brompton, while making me look like a bear on  clown bike, felt twitchily responsive. The handlebars of the P-type, while looking like an exercise bike, providing the variety of positions required for distance, climbs and the like. This is the bike I want to ride this year. I want to get a Brompton up the Ouka Monster for the third time – how to break it to Henry that I do not want to ride the tandem again?

Devils Dyke, Beach, beer, burgers and home in time to collect the children – that alone is a record!


The short and the long if it

So, in short (all figures are approximate):

  • 170 odd riders – some deciding on a shorter course
  • 40 made it through the weather to the top
  • 20 of the super-speedy made it down before the weather closes in
  • 67 riders were taken off the mountain in mini buses (with bikes to follow)
  • Hypothermia claims 2 people  who are taken off in ambulances
  • Three further bikes make it home crossing the finish together in joint 21st and last place
    Two are riding Bianchi’s and the third, a Brompton!!

And the long story?

– Watch this space

Legs Eleven

Not sure if I’d have any legs left at the end of week 11 as Chris and I planned to do the box hill zig-zag a couple of times (one of those times being downhill 🙂 ) before heading on to Brighton.

By way of warm up I added the 20kg of child to the Brompton for three days of school runs before setting off in freezing conditions on Thursday.

Up to Hampstead,  12 miles across London to meet Chris in Streatham and proceed to Sutton before at last hitting country lanes after around 18 miles of London’s sprawling mass.

Box Hill was, surprisingly, rather easy!

There was an exhilarating almost omnipotent feeling as you glide across the still new tarmac painted with the names of Wiggo, Cavendish and their Team GB cohorts – at which point you take stock and realize you probably look fairly ridiculous in comparison. Much as I love the Brompton’s ability to collapse almost as fast of me on a steep hill, visually it does make me look a bit like a bear on a clown bike…

Still, add in a touch of snow, sleet and the many hills to Brighton and it feels as though we have earned the couple of beers and burger on the beach (I was going to have a mineral water, but it would have let the alliteration side down).

On Friday my legs hurt, but I was in better shape than the bike, which has checked in for a service leaving me to contemplate a week of altitude training in my kitchen on the turbo trainer while wearing the gimp mask…

So, on Strava – 124.7 miles covered and 4,539’ climbed