Playing catch up 2 – featuring Kate Moss

And so, after many false starts – briefly riding with Mike in the Cévennes before returning to London and getting swallowed by the day job, trying again in November and surviving the embarrassment of crashing and being picked up off the roundabout by the Brunswick Centre by a French tourist only to then fracture something unpronounceable in my foot while walking around Kew Gardens to name but two (with complete disregard to punctuation) – training eventually started.

‘Started’ may be a bit of an overstatement. Henry and I, the tandem-tastic team from 2016

(Yes, that’s us), had a bit of a night of it. Despite this, we were up early – not sleeping helps to facilitate this – and fixing up the tandem which had been sitting untouched, below decks in Cabby’s workshop since last year’s Marrakech Atlas Etape. Things were oiled – hands, clothing and the like, pedals added and tyres pumped. Water bottles were filled and made pretty with the addition of purple isotonic things – whatever they do – and Box Hill beckoned.

The tandem was lifted onto the pontoon and the tyre was flat. In fact the tube was broken at the valve. This was a problem as the old Helios Circe Duo has odd sized wheels and, while I could find tubes for the fat tyres, there were none to hand for the Marathon’s.

Change of plan and Chris cycles north via a cycle shop who had the requisite tubes in a dusty cupboard of collectors items. Broken tyre levers and some time later we set off. Box Hill is out – being 26 miles away – so we target Hampstead and Highgate. The tandem is a beast – says the unfit duo blaming their rather marvelous machine – and a mere 23 miles of hills later we stop for lunch at the Flask – training over.

While sitting there, I vaguely notice the arrival of a couple of women. The fair haired of which looks around in my direction – Henry and Chris have their backs to them. I am at the age where people do not give me a second glance anymore so thought nothing of it – and even if I did, I really need to visit an optician to focus across a beer garden (before the addition of beer). I was watched again on my way to and from the bar as well as being the subject of, from my pov, a blurred conversation and a couple of more ‘checking outs’.

As we were heading out Chris and Henry were very excited that Kate Moss was the blonde. How often do you get checked out by Kate Moss??!!??

I mean, it helps if you vaguely knew her through a friend when at school and that she then drank in your Camden pub – the Camden Brewing Company – obviously.

And, she was probably saying, ‘I am sure that guy used to run a very cool party pub and now look at him – fat, middle aged and wearing lycra’…

 

Advertisements

Playing catch up 1

Back in February I wrote the below,

‘Below decks.

Bent double, no headroom. Red decks disguise the blood, sweat and tears as all noise is amplified back at you.

If the planks were etched by the feet and guns which have run over them in the course of naval service, this cramped space could be the gun deck of the ‘third rate’ HMS Captain, built here in Limehouse Yard and the command Nelson made his name (and knighthood) on in the Battle of Cape St Vincent, winning the day and boarding a ‘first rate’ to boot.

But no.

Feeble tungsten light struggles to penetrate the caged glass of the shade and illuminate the stacks of tools and tins of paint, sail lockers, diesel tanks, exposed bilges and float-switched pumps. This murky world with its strange acoustic; workshop and storage space, the damply claustrophobic bowels of the good Sailing Barge Cabby has its own hero.

No Horatio, maybe, but Henry took his first exercise for 33 years here as he began to train for the 2016 Marrakech Atlas Etape. He wedged himself between saddle and deck before cycling the turbo trainer mounted Kona Sutra through the pain barrier in his first set of interval training – still one of the funniest things I have filmed and I will be killed if I posted it again.

While easy to laugh, I am staggered by my lack of fitness this year…’

Reading it back in April with less than a fortnight to go to the big day, I am equally staggered that I spent time writing such pretentious twaddle rather than doing some exercise – this year I never did get on the turbo trainer..

The ‘gym’ on Sailing Barge Cabby – a Kona Sutra mounted on a turbo trainer between the sails and diesel tank.

An uphill battle

Going home sick on a Thursday and still ill on Monday was all part of Henry’s warm up to last Wednesday’s ride. Chris, meanwhile, being in Ireland as it is the school holidays.

Having spent the night on the boat and indulged in a far more gentle warm up than before the previous ride, Henry was still hawking like a Dickensian child of the Jago – not the poncey hipster shop on Great Eastern St, but the slum that was there before it and that you can still get the meanest whiff of in the ‘rag trade’ street market behind this, on the corner of Bethnal Green Road and Shoreditch High Street.

Regardless of health, he was up for the ride and, leaving the East End behind we scaled Fitzroy Farm to the dizzy heights of Highgate.

Explosions of prolapsing lungs spat over my neck, but down we went and back up Swains. Feeling Henry spinning out, but just clinging on, we swung round the back of Kenwood and up to Whitestone’s Pond, London’s highest point.

Recovered somewhat and egged on by the prospect of lunch, every pedal punctuated by gut heaving coughs and showers of phlegm from the stoker, we dropped to Golders Green – and back up. Down to the Finchley Road – and back up. Up Mount Vernon. Down to Chalk Farm and up to Pond Street, down and up again to Whitestone’s – a killer. A sweep back around Kenwood and a climb to a welcome rest in the Flask.

24 miles of steep climbing while sick deserves being rewarded with one of London’s best kept pints of Pride. The second, equally acceptable.

The three course meal and two bottles of red to follow may have been a little excessive, but nicely set us up for the ride back to Limehouse and the boat!

Back in the saddle

So, the computer died while on holiday.

The positive that can be taken from this is it has stopped me going off topic with long stories about my travels around India. They will appear elsewhere when complete.

Meanwhile, 178 miles into the year and we have a new recruit – Henry has joined the team as stoker to the Tuffs’ tandem, adding a wealth of weight, age and journalistic cynicism to proceedings – while bringing the now trio’s combined age up to 150!

Albeit not the fit youth we were aiming to recruit, it does mean that the quality of these pages may well improve in future…