Lou Reed

I’m sure you’ve all been very concerned as I haven’t piped up since the big day of the ride. But fret no more – I made it and I survived!

Wow, what a day! It started early with a 5.30 alarm clock setting and then a trip to the start line to find that I was very far from the first….

Waiting to start - not nervous at all...!

Waiting to start – not nervous at all…!

It was pretty cold, especially that first mile or two before the legs got warmed up but there was company, a clear and quiet Richmond Park and Thames path and we cycled into the sun so you could feel the day warming up.

Pretty soon we were out into rural Surrey – and who knew there was an old airfield at Wisley? These are exactly the sort of things you find when you get off-road.

By this time I was already passing breakdowns and punctures so my fingers were firmly crossed.

Crossing fields, woodland paths with the sun coming through the trees, some hairy descents and some stiff climbs. We had them all as proven below:

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Across the North Downs

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Through the woods!

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It’s steeper than it looks, honest….

 

As proven by my expression...

As proven by my expression…

Now remember, the ride length was 75miles – not something to be underestimated. My level of mathematical genius allowed me to work out that an average of 10mph would mean a 7.5hr ride. But the climbs en route were something I’d never experienced before so would I be able to keep that pace? Or was I being over-ambitious?

Then I heard about Tourettes Hill…. The last hill before the finish is apparently nicknamed as such because it so damn steep. “It can’t be that bad” I thought. And my first words that I uttered when I saw it? “You’re f*@king joking…” which at least made two blokes having a rest chuckle.

And that explains the nickname Tourettes Hill…..

Then I got to the top and what a relief!

This way for a rest....

This way for a rest….

A welcome sight!

A welcome sight!

After that it was all down hill/level in to the finish and by that time I was good and ready to stop, as you can imagine. In the end I’d averaged just under 9mph so completed in around 8.5hrs (lack of precision due to my phone charge running out!) but I’m just pleased to have finished and got my medal. Here’s the proof:

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

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Where’s the chips??

I just wish I’d had the energy to stand in line for the massage because my legs were killing me the next day! Never mind, it was a great ride and I’m definitely doing it again next year.

Lots of thanks go to the British Heart Foundation and all the volunteers that manned the course that day: a bunch of stars!

All in all, a Perfect Day (well nearly….don’t get me started on the rugby)

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Genesis

(After giving it some thought, I’ve decided that my hook will be a music theme to the title of each post. Ambitious? Twee? Pointless? You’ll have to decide! Anyway, see the end of each post for a title-based treat!)

Now whilst the title might not immediately appear to make much sense, I wanted to share how my interest developed since first getting a bike. The first thing to consider is that it’s a machine, toy and gadget it will there for qualify for that bloke trait that says that anything that can be tinkered with, will be tinkered with.

I started with a standard “off the peg” mountain bike (a Giant Talon Zero 2010 model) and only thought that I needed three things: a pump, mudguards and a lock. Simple, you’d think…. Oh no, no, no! And that’s before you consider price! A quick trip to Evans Cycles in Wimbledon sorted me out but at a total cost of £70-odd! The mudguards were fine but I’d only learn later that the pump and lock weren’t really fit for purpose. Probably the sort of error that is commonplace for newbies.

So off I scooted, got a few rides under my belt. All well and good you’d think. Not a bit of it!! There’s immediately a few problems I think I need to address. The first problem is a bit sensitive. Tender, if you will. Yep its the botty! Not something to be sniffed at (sorry for that mental image…)

OK, that’s easily sorted: padded undershorts. Feels a bit weird like wearing a nappy, but the saddle-soreness is a thing of the past. Phew!

Next problem is the my poor little mitts: they got a bit fuzzy and numb after riding for a while. What does one do? Well in time-honoured male fashion you google it and then see what toys are available to solve the issue! That leads to a special pair of handlebar grips to help with the vibration effects. Huzzah!

Remember, this is still at the very beginning of my venture into mountain biking!

Since then there’s been so many other things to address: pedals; saddle; chain; tyres; tubes; seat post; lights. The list goes on. And that doesn’t include tools and maintenance equipment or clothing!

But guess what: IT’S GREAT!!

Us blokes love this sort of thing and, even when its dark out or winter/raining hard, you can still get online and spend hours comparing, contrasting, deciding on your next purchase or seeking advice on forums.

But, remember, none of this is compulsory! Its just what I did and whilst I’ve ended up with some dud purchases, there’s also some great ones! In the end, I suppose, it depends on what you ultimately want to get out of cycling. Want to commute but have to leave your bike somewhere public: you be unwise spend thousands just for it to disappear whilst you’re working! Want to get into pedalling but unsure of whether you’ll like it? There are plenty of budget options. That’s what I’ve done and whilst I’ve upgraded my bike recently (I’ll talk about that in a future post) I still look around to see what I want to get next!!

So that’s my initial experience: its daunting at first but you soon get to grips with terminology and realise there are bags of resources out there. Don’t be afraid to use them and pretty quickly you’ll be talking the talk with the best of them!!

 

Now for the bit you’ve been waiting for: enjoy a 90’s classic!