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 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.

Below decks

Sadly I missed my stoker’s 51st birthday lunch this Sunday. Ros had to work and a combination of factors, including my own backlog of work, meant that getting two children to Woodbridge from London, via a rail replacement bus service, in time for lunch was not going to pan out – particularly as, if I was going to complete my work, I needed to stay sober.

As it turned out lunch continued until 9.30.

9.30am that is!

Not having Monday off meant that my absence was a good thing. It also meant that I was noticeably fitter when Henry came up smiling on Tuesday, to loosely quote, ‘Withnail and I’.

I did shred my Schwalbe Durano tyres on the way to the office. Conveniently, this was outside the school my partner is principle of, which meant I had company as I swapped tubes on the side of the road.

The reason I mention the tyre manufacturer is that Strava shows that these Schwalbe Durano’s have carried my 16 stone for over 3,900 miles before letting me down – just astounding!

Back to Henry, and we meet at the boat after work for our weekly tandem training. Motivation has been higher as evidenced by Ros’ delay meaning we happily abandon our ride and proceed to our post ride HIIT routine (as Chris covers in his post) of alternating 12 x 30 second sprints on the Kona that is set up on a turbo trainer under the deck. Doing this at least justifies a beer to groan over in the saloon while promising to knock the drinking and smoking on the head.

It is harder than it sounds as the end of this clip would demonstrate – if I could upload it here. Facebook it is then…

Six weeks out

So after weekend of looking after the children and nursing a bed-bound, flu-filled, properly poorly Justine, I finally cleared out under the deck enough to fit the turbo-trainer and Kona between the diesel tank and the sail bags. It really is head-down and go as the cockpit deck above prevents one sitting up on the bike!

I had forgotten how hot one gets on a trainer – this may be the way to loose the weight I need as, with six weeks to go until the big climb, I am still on the heavy side – For example, I took the children riding on Saturday to tick that particular middle class box and considered having a go. It was pointed out that there is a 13 stone weight limit to protect the innocent equines from the likes of me who comes in a casual three stone above that.

Still the couple of post-training glasses of Muscadet means that I have dulled the sheer terror of the impending big day.

It is probably time to start taking this seriously – after this glass, naturally – as the year-to-date is not too impressive…

  • Last week – 102.2m, 3,002′
  • March week 1 – 87.4m, 1,654′
  • February – 346.7m, 10,885′
  • Year-to-date – 713m, 17,596′


The long road back.

And no, I am not referring to Peter Andre’s – no doubt brilliant – fourth album (which implies there are three preceding it, what a dreadful thought) or, come to think of it, the Bryan Adams song! I am referring to the road back to fitness.

I complacently thought I was a lot fitter than I am. Thankfully, the ride to Box Hill with Chris has alerted me to the fact that this is not the case while I still have some time to do something about it before the Marrakech-Atlas Etape. By ‘alerted’ I really mean I crashed and burned and had to bail.

The day started badly with a(nother) puncture, meaning I ditched the Pacific Reach and pedaled off on the Kona Sutra – like a Bentley, a beautiful lorry which weighs around a tonne. Brixton Hill hurt and things were aching badly by the time I had reached Streatham to meet my riding partner. Rose Hill almost had me turning round and I was shafted on arrival at the peak of the North Downs. Actually the down bit was okay, things started to go wrong heading back up the zig zag, where muscles that used to work decided to be cold, cramped balls of agony. A second ascent finished me off and, rather than the well intended loop to cycle off the pain, I pulled off the road into what was, conveniently, a pub with a roaring fire, decent beer and the ‘retro’ food that indicates you are outside of London…

…Some medicinal amber liquid and solids later made the thought of the two hour ride to collect the children acceptable. In reality it hurt like buggery – although that could just be that I am not used to riding on the Brooks saddle the Kona sports.

Ice, snow, pub and pain aside we covered about 55 miles and climbed about 2,700′ – not bad considering I was only teaching myself to walk again last September / October.

I also know that I need to stop snacking, drinking, partying and take this a little more seriously – and that is only to keep up with Chris! To tackle the Ouka as well is going to take some considerable exercise compared to this year-to-date where I have only cycled 278 miles and climbed 5,709′.

Still, relish a challenge…

Week 13

With the clown bike still being in the shop due, it appears, to the part I need being caught up in Brompton’s warehouse moves – the logistics of juggling children and a grown-up bike didn’t really add up and there was a lack of outdoor cycling…

…With one notable exception.

Chris and I headed south out of London on Thursday in light snow. Several miles later we are fighting our way up and down Box Hill in a blizzard. Freezing cold. On the seventh time at the top we decided to bail out and, via briefly stopping at a pub to defrost, struggled into a head wind with little visibility to arrive home frozen and exhausted.

Still, while not the climate we are expecting in Morocco, it was still 75 miles and 5,100′ of climbing.

Interested to note that, while the Kona Sutra rode like a dream and had a lot more gears to fall back on, I didn’t use them and the clown-bike is just as good at climbing.

Back to the Kona on the turbo trainer now until Brompton decide to get their house in order.