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!

 

Roll with it…

Oasis playing.

1995 seems like a long time ago.

Beautiful day – one of a series that have made up a glorious week in Tignes.

The children finish early to get their ski school medals, so I will see if I can get a late afternoon skate in instead – My Dad’s Bauer’s purchased from Skate Attack 29 years ago cutting a hockey-bladed dash on the frozen lake in glorious sunshine…

Memories of early Broadgate days with Henry, Joel and the Canadian gang, ice, rain, Turbos and Chargers.

Young, fearless and fit.

The subsequent body battering, the self-induced, the brakes, the wear and tear. The lack of core strength from prolapsed disk, fractured pelvis and recent fractured foot meant I was too fragile and, more to the point, too scared to ski.

Strangely removed from the community motivation, skating was the answer and the first proper move towards regaining enough fitness to ride the Marrakech Atlas Etape this year. The experience has left me feeling healthier and determined to build up the strength to both beat the Ouka Monster and come back here to ski.

‘Some might say, ‘we will find a brighter day”

IMG_7158.JPGBring it on.

Quote of the day

Having punctured in the torrential rain that accompanied my attempt to ride home yesterday, I jumped in a cab. Sodden, late and 20 pounds lighter (if only I could loose pounds as fast as my wallet), I dump my folding bike on the deck and go below to present my partner with damp birthday presents from me and the children.

Not being inclined to change a tube on a beautifully clear morning of fresh Spring sunshine, I mounted the tandem and headed to work.

The small wheeled, two seated Helios Duo often draws comments from scaffold mounted builders to ‘Mamils’ at the lights – the former being louder, to the point and funnier as a rule.

You often hear exclamations of, ‘a tandem!’ (yes) and from the more observant, ‘A Brompton tandem!’ (no, but it does have small wheels and a Brompton bag mount, which puts the commenter in the unusual position of stating the obvious and being wrong).

Today, however, the early morning heckle to a man on a bicycle made for two was in a league of its own.

‘Oi, you’re pedalling your broken marriage through the streets of London…’

I cycled on, at a loss for a smart answer and wondering if I should contemplate marriage in order to facilitate a poetical moment further down the line?

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!

Ride and Glide!

The tandem riding had an air of order after our first training run. We had call signs that, we belatedly realised, when combined, sounded like a type of lubricant rather than a coordinated sporting unit. That aside, however, we were quietly confident.

Ride two was designed to get some miles in the legs – somewhere over the 100 mark to prove that we could manage the distance.

Knowing Chris was out with clients meant that Henry and I, always believers that an odd drink never hurt, liberally carb-loaded on the night before the ride. It only seemed fair, so as not to have an advantage over Chris.

At some point during this preparation our judgement erred and the hour of our departure rapidly began to merge with bedtime.

As a result of this experiment I can categorically say that drinking all night is not ideal preparation for a 100 mile bike ride.

Regardless, Chris arrived looking like he had already done the distance and the three of us set off. It was cold and it hurt. A lot of endurance riding is mental and a no-sleep hangover is not the best mental state to achieve the required miles.

We flogged on, up the Lea valley, through Epping, Chipping Ongar and some of Essex’s finest. We mixed a puncture in for variety and eventually stopped for lunch at a pub where they assumed we were part of the over 60’s cycling club they had booked in – that’s how good we looked.

Lunch it transpires is the great healer. Food and beer revitalised us enough for the return journey and we made the distance, but did it hurt.

Hall of fame

‘Welcome to the hall of fame, now you’ve coughed up cash, welcome to the hall of…’ he sings while mangling the lyrics of Madness.

In short, these are the posts where we thank you for your support of Education for All – as evidenced by the final line…

So, Elliot, a former O2 client, and good friend who we are now working with elsewhere, set the funding ball rolling in what has been a slow start this year.

Freddie, kindly chipped in behind him and we are 4% of the way to our target.

You both rock! Many thanks for the support!

Thanks to Jim McW, impressed by your Arabic, blessings on your house.

Steve and Iris, you’re both stars!

View from the front

And so, the biggest outing to date for both the Circe Helios Duo, to give the tandem its full name, and for Henry as we set off on a run from Limehouse, for five climbs of Box Hill and back.

They fared remarkably well, although, it has to be said the bike didn’t, between the snot rockets of his ‘Bushmans’ blowing’, spend the best part of seventy miles moaning about their ischial tuberosities – which sounds like the sort of thing you pick up in conversation with Will Self. I can’t be bothered to look this up, but think it is the lower, sitting, part of the pelvis and is used in this instance to refer to a sore arse – and, indeed, in that case, probably the result of more than just a conversation with Will Self!

Moans and groans aside, the trip was a great success. Unlike previous years, the weather held and we avoided the normal misery of snow or driving rain.

We also avoided giving Chris the satisfaction of witnessing a tarmac-chewing, gravel-grazing, jack-knifing fall on any of the hairpins. The Helios Duo handled magnificently and, while it will be more secure with an addition of an extra break, I am a lot more confident that, with care, we will be okay on the descent with the standard two. You never know, I may yet persuade Circe that they want to sponsor us the cost of a break and, ideally, making the tandem fold properly.

On to this coming Thursday, and we are aiming to put some miles under our belts with a run around Essex. You never know, we may be as well dressed as we were for the last trip… (note, we are not guilty of ‘mechanical doping’, the tandem and the outboard are separate!)

 

IMG_0006