Thursday, 18 December 2014

Looking forward to 2015

I nearly always forget that pretty much the whole of December and much of November is spent planning for Christmas. Once Christmas is out the way then I start to wonder what we should do for new year, and then my birthday, and then....

This morning David wanted to know who wanted to see the velorution series at the lee valley velodrome. Sarah Storey is putting on a go at the hour record which should be good. I also suggested we should book in for the London Bike show as the brands we are both considering for new bicycles have stands there (to get hands on with their wares so to speak).

But what about me? What do I want to do in 2015?

2011 was LEJOG
2012  was my first bike tour and Bike to Bestival
2013 was the London Gypsy Orchestra and my first Dunwich Dynamo and a go on the Manchester Velodrome
2014 was my first time trial, duathlon and triathlon

2015 looks at the moment like it could be any number of things. At the moment I have the Cardiff  Velothon booked. I'd also like it to be the year I...

  1. Try an Audax event
  2. Try different night rides
  3. Join a cycle club
  4. Run a half marathon.
  5. Finish a triathlon in under 3 hours
I'm  hoping to find out whether I am allowed to take voluntary severance from my job tomorrow. If so then 2015 will be the year I start doing something different for a living... Finish saving for a deposit... buy a nice shiny new bike... who knows. Maybe even  get an interesting job.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Knee pain

I have been suffering from knee pain for the last few weeks. It is a weird pain inside the knee that only really hurts when I'm climbing a lot of stairs. This wouldn't be a problem but I live on the fifth floor and work on the fifth of another building. It didn't hurt to walk. It didn't hurt to run.

This Saturday I got out on the Kona for a brief ride to pick up some shopping and noticed immediately that my left knee hurt. I got off and checked the bike. The saddle was adjusted wrong and the seat post at the wrong height...

My Dad took the seat post out to get the bike in the car after the triathlon... I should perhaps have also made adjustments after changing the pedals.

Last night I lowered the saddle and moved it correctly in the clamp. Sat on it for a try. Lowered the bars by a few mm to compensate for lowering the seat and hey presto it felt fine.

I rode in to work today (in the dark!!) and guess what? Apart from residual soreness from... being sore... It felt fine.

Lesson learned?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Winter blues

After an autumn of relative inactivity (due to injury) and an almost unsurpassed selection of invites to parties, beer festivals, catch up drinks, gigs and general socialising; I am feeling extra sluggish as we head into the winter.

Despite some weight gains and a feeling that my heart maybe full of butter and cheese, I am keen to get back out there. I've recently started running again as I have been given the all clear on the broken metatarsal and it is an activity ideally suited to winter mornings. Running in the dark is nowhere near as scary as riding in the dark.

I have, as of this last weekend, broken out the 'windstopper' running tights which proved such a good buy last January. I am still running in a light windcheater and running vest at this point however and am saving the deep winter top for running in snow.

My life has taken an interesting turn in the last few weeks. I have worked at the  same place for 12 years and for the last 4 years have been aware that the department I work in will be restructured at some point. That point is now. The structure going forward seems ideally suited for me to take a promotion and to move on in the organisation. Had it happened 4 years ago I might have done just that.

I applied for an estimate on voluntary severance and it came back with a monetary figure that my employer thinks is worthy of my service so far. In the public sector you don't get pay rises based on work you do. There are no bonuses and there are no awards or presentations for long service. Just an amount when you finally get spat out of the machine.

I have decided to get out before I'm spat out. I'll leave local government... maybe for good while I'm still young enough to try something else. I may try contracting or I may get another job. My aim is to get a mortgage and buy somewhere to live. Once I have that sorted I'm going to work out what to do with the rest of my life.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pistou - A veggie photo story

This weekend I made a big pan of pistou soup. It is very similar to minestrone soup with a fresh pesto type sauce dropped into the centre. After trying it at a friends we discovered the recipe was in a book we already owned by Rachel Khoo. The recipe is on  the BBC website here. I made a half quantity (which gave 3 big servings) and added a stick of celery that wasn't in the recipe.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Day of the dead ride #2

The Hackney bicycle film society organised a second 'Day of the dead ride'.

The route this year was brilliant as we saw Hackney Marshes, the Olympic park, lots of odd side roads and a lovely pub. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Hackney to Windsor

On Saturday, 3 men with colds, and 1 man determined to break his bike on a single outing (2 drops and a spot of light off-roading follow later in this post) set out to go to Windsor following the least likely route possible.

On Friday I Googled the route and was surprised to see that Google maps suggested the M4 or A4 even when switched to "cycling" as the method of travel. I decided, on balance, that the route suggested by David looked better. I didn't really check why we were going where we were going because the route looked largely flat and easy to follow.

I got up at the ungodly hour of 06:30, after 4 hours of sleep, in the murky blue black light of a cloudy dawn and realised I was out of soya milk and bread. I managed to locate some cow's milk and muesli and managed to get showered, dressed packed and downstairs for 07:30 with the bike.

David showed up shortly after and we grumbled pleasantly about the cold and lack of breakfast etc. all the way to Angel. Once we'd stopped and got money out we headed off to the wrong bridge. Then we headed off to the right bridge to meet two of David's friends.

Drop 1# prior to arrival

We ended up a peloton of Aluminium (Cinelli), Carbon (Merida* citation need) and steel (Kona and Condor).

Down through Chelsea and into Putney we stopped first in Richmond park at the cafe to get some coffee and belated breakfasts where required. Chat centred around Local government and bikes before long as we all found common ground.

It was sometime later that I first started to suspect the circuitous nature of the route we were embarked upon as we passed through Berrylands and Surbiton. I'd spotted Hampton Court and Staines on the route and assumed we were doing a different way there than back. As we approached Surbiton Cricket Club it was announced that we'd arrived at stop 2.

We had taken a slight detour into suburban Surrey to view a recent addition to the bike family of a friend of some of the group. A lovely new Canyon Endurace with full Dura Ace. Very pretty and well worth the extra miles. It (and the rider) didn't join us due to missing  pedals and inclement weather... another time maybe.

Drop #2 in the carpark of the cricket club

Across Kingston Bridge and down the dual carriageway to Hampton court. Previous rides out this way I had gone along the Thames Path, but it was muddy and we had much more road bikey bikes with us on this trip. That said as we came around Staines we managed a small off road section before finding a lot of ponies and a window manufacturer in one particularly dead end.

Upon arriving at windsor we briefly considered the "All you can eat Thai Buffet" before settling on the roughest pub in  Windsor. The falafel burgers may have been in the freezer as nobody working there was even aware it was a menu item. By the time the food arrived we were all starving and it was very well received.

The journey back was much swifter and easier than the route there. Despite rain and high winds (headwind in both directions... Oh yes) we were quickly back at Southall and before long I knew where I was without recourse to my phone.

It was during the more straightforward sections that I came to the following conclusions

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel makes nice bridges
  • Southall smells nicer than many suburbs
  • There are a lot of dual carriageways in London
  • Oxford street is full of blind aggresive idiots
  • I wanted a very hot bath when we got back

I'm not saying David and my bikes are heavy but we were at the back quite a bit. This isn't unusual for me but it is for David.

When we got back to Stokey I stopped at "mother earth" because I needed bread and eggs and they needed (apparently) all of the money I had on my person. I'd just started running a bath when Kev rang to see if I wanted beer that evening.

I did

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Unsolicited day rides required

At some point during the pub crawl last Saturday I agreed to go on a ride to Windsor and back this coming Saturday. I distinctly remember it being mentioned and I'm fairly sure I wasn't going. I had planned to ride to Brighton (Brighton or summat - the extent of my mental planning process). However it turns out I had been invited and I was yet to confirm. This will be a gentle 50 miler with mostly complete strangers and by the looks of it as little extra equipment as it is possible to mange with. Not because any of us are weight weenie's but because nobody can be arsed to drag too much stuff for a short ride.

As per usual with this type of thing we're going to attempt to start spectacularly early.For everyone to start from Battersea Bridge at 08:30 we'll have to leave Stoke Newington at 07:30. To be on the safe side that is. I could leave at 08:00 and welly it down but that never really works because there is always roadworks somewhere in London.

Also, as per usual, I have no idea where Windsor is or how I get there. I just googled it and apparently I need to ride on the M4. This seems unlikely but not entirely implausible. My Solo ride back from Cambridge the other year involved large sections of the non motorway A1 (i.e. not the A1(M))

This brings me back to my cycling club dilemma. I would dearly love to get out for more group rides. The easiest way to do this is to join a club of some kind. Local to me is a traditional cycling club and an audax club. I aspire to some of the long range audax rides but only when I fully understand the rules, however I have a heavy steel bike and so would feel out of place on the club rides where my pride might get the better of me. I can't be off chasing down a skinny 60kg club guy on a sub 7kg bike when my bike and rider combined weight is closer to 100kg (or 1/10th of a metric ton as I like to think of myself)

Maybe I should follow Groucho Marx's example...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

upgrading and the dangers thereof...

One of the dangers of falling for a sport (or sports), instrument, hobby etc. Is the constant pressure to upgrade. Whenever I'm actually riding my bike at speed I'm perfectly happy with it. When I'm off the bike there are a few things I'd like to change, however it totally depends what I'm using it for going forward. Last year I put on and took off two sets of tri-bars, changed the stem and bars, took off the mudguards and rack and lowered the handlebars. This is because I wanted to race. Going forward it needs a new chainset and wheels (whatever discipline I choose to be involved in), however any other changes depend on how mny bikes I'm allowed.

Ideally this would become a day-bike and light tourer (Strong wheels and tyres and the matching Sora or new FSA chainset. Maybe a better rack)This after all is what the bike is effectively designed for.

That would mean that I needed a bike for racing (triathlon, dualthlon), club rides and sportives. The Kona would become the be-fendered and brooks'd comfort ride.

I could however get new and lighter parts for the Kona. I've seen a honky tonk with Carbon forks and seatpost, lighweight wheels and a racing saddle. I'd still be looking longingly at the bikes parked outside the cafe in Richmond park.

Ideally, in the long run, I'd like a bike like the charge plug 5 for most usage. On and off road, light touring and bikepacking. I'd then like the Condor Super Acciaio (above) with carbon finishing kit for racing and long distance speed rides.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The hill that beat me (reprise#2)

3 years ago, whilst in the early stages of training for LEJOG, I wrote a blog post about cycling around Richmond park. I had trouble with one of the hills. I wrote about how I hoped to return and beat the hill once I had improved.

I wrote about achieving this in a post back in 2013, however today I noticed a new development

This morning I rose early to meet Jonny at Richmond Park. The plan was for me to cycle down and back, but we would do a couple of laps of the park and have a catch-up. The day that I had gone to the park for the first ride, Jonny didn't make it due to a crash. He was ok but I'm not sure we've ever ridden it together. 

The ride there took a little longer than I remembered but it is effectively the first hour of the Bike to Bestival route.

We set off in the same direction as the very first time. Very quickly we were on the beginning slope of the hill. A couple of minutes later we were at the top. I had had so much trouble with this short sharp hill only a few years earlier. But today it was over before it really began (to paraphrase Morrisey). 

It's odd how perception of effort changes over time. Today's problem or challenge can quite easily become a daily achievement with enough hard work.

I noticed a similar effect with the Dunwich Dynamo. The first year it seemed incredibly far. A gargantuan achievement. This year it rained and I cycled the whole thing with road rash down one leg... and yet it seemed so much more manageable. I wonder if that's how I'll feel about triathlons by this time next year?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Post triathlon blues and a thank you to the NHS

I have pretty much been limping since the triathlon. I'm starting to walk normally again and am not quite as depressed as I was straight after the event. Finishing something you have been training for and then watching your fitness decline sharply, because of injury, is quite demoralising in a way I wasn't expecting.

I’ve been to casualty, fracture clinic, sports injury clinic and physiotherapy.  I've been back in to hospital because a second opinion (unsolicited within the hospital) wanted convincing I wasn't fractured; and I’m currently waiting for an MRI before my physio programme is finalised.

If I had gone private all this would be sorted by now, but that misses the point somewhat. I have been treated by professionals keen, not only to get me back on my feet and make me a productive worker, but to make me back into the person I want to be.

All free at the point of service.

No one needs to get rich to make healthcare a worthwhile end in and of itself.

We have one of the best healthcare systems in the world and it is being dismantled in a single term of government. A government nobody voted for, of which neither party prioritised demolition of the current system of healthcare.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Photos from the triathlon

I can still barely walk after last week's triathlon but it still seems worth it...

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Replacement multisport watch

With all the irony of a well timed sitcom, I had yet to get out of bed on the morning after my triathlon, when the doorbell ran for a parcel delivery. It was my replacement Bryton Cardio 60. My GPS triathlon watch

The original had failed on a sea swim in Croatia despite being rated waterproof to 50 metres and having an open water swim function. I can fault neither Rutland Cycles nor Bryton (who arranged for the replacement under warranty) as both acted promptly and didn't quibble at all. I received excellent communication throughout the process. It just took me too long to get around to taking the package to the post office in the first place. Rutland cycles also refunded my postage this morning, which I wasn't expecting.

I opened the package noting that the box seemed different inside to the previous one. Initially my heart sank as I couldn't see the HRM strap or pod. I then noticed a compartment down the inside edge of the package. Inside was not only the missing strap and pod, but also the bike speed and cadence sensor, screen protector and bike mount. I had been sent the upgraded package. Result. Thank you very much.

This is remarkably handy because my bike sensor broke recently. My next adventure is likely to be another overnight ride and it'd be great not to need to unpack my phone at any point and still track the ride.

Although I only had the watch for 3 months of training I feel I could have knocked a few minutes off of my bike time if I'd known how fast/slow I was going. Who knows? Well I will from now on.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The London triathlon 2014

Sunday 3rd August is a date that has been burnt into my thoughts for the best part of a year now. Late last year I signed up to compete in my first triathlon. When I signed up it seemed a very long way off but the time came around really quickly in the last couple of months.

Getting to the venue was an interesting journey in itself. The road closures were already in place so we had to do a long loop into the venue. The organisers had done a fantastic job and every aspect of preparing to race went smoothly, or as smoothly as possible in a venue that size utilising mostly volunteers.

The swim
We queued up in the swim assembly. Me and 300 other men in my age group. One guy that I got chatting to suggested that I keep an eye open for the billingsgate turn on the first cycle loop as he had missed it and added 15km onto his ride the previous year.

At the instructed time we walked outside onto a pontoon in the dock and we were instructed to jump in as quickly as possible. I balked it a couple of times before just jumping in. I sank quite deep, but the wetsuit buoyancy popped me back out on the surface quite quickly.

At the horn we started swimming. For the first 100 metres or so people kept bumping into me a one guy swam straight though me. As a result of the crowding I kept my head up and swam a slower crawl than I expected to. This stroke with my head up caused the wetsuit to rub the back of my neck and I realised that I would need to swim my practiced stroke if I was to get around without wearing through the skin on my neck. I settled for around 20 strokes of open water front crawl, with a pause of paddling on the surface to check directions and surroundings before another 20.

After what seemed like an age I reached the buoy for the turn. Thankfully the second side of the loop was much shorter, maybe only 20 metres. At this point I started to need a wee. The only snag was that I couldn't wee and swim. Each time I stopped to try, one of the lifeguards on the kayaks would check if I was OK. In the end I just put me head down and started swimming the stroke that I had planned.

Before I knew it it was all over and I was climbing out of the water.  One of the assistants asked if I wanted help with the wetsuit zip. Thank you yes.

At this point I realised that Sophie was watching. The volunteers held open a bag for me to put my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap. There was a 200 metre jog to the bike racks

The bike
I took my time getting dried and changed. I was only a few from the back in my wave anyway so I thought I'd dry off and double check I'd got everything. The bike section was actually really pleasant. The route went from Excel up to Westminster on closed roads. The usual motley crew of time trial bikes, road bikes, the odd single speed and even a mountain bike. The route came back past Excel and then up to Billingsgate. It was lovely except I still needed a wee.

I'd spotted my parents with Sophie by this point which I was pleased about but I'm also embarrassed when I'm being watched.

I don't normally get to ride quickly in London so the closed wide roads and the empty roundabouts were an absolute joy. That said the last 50 were a climb up a ridged ramp to the first floor of the excel.

The run
I'd felt pretty good on the bike but the moment I got off I realised the run wasn't going to be easy. My foot which had been uncomfortable all week was now painful to run on. I had just 3 laps of the running circuit to go but I was thinking that finishing this was going to be something of a challenge.

Running is by and large a solitary venture...Unless you are running on the same narrow path with a thousand other people, whose friends and family are screaming support. The other runners were either going for it or hurting by this point. Everyone was also suffering from wind. Too many gels and sugary snacks. I however also still needed a wee.

I had to walk up the ramp back into the excel on all three laps but was pleased to have run the rest. Warren had joined my folks by this point so I was even more embarrassed but happy to see him.

As I crossed the finish I heard them announce my completion over the tannoy and I was presented with a medal. I declined the alcohol free beer and headed straight for a long overdue toilet stop.

I could barely walk but was happy to have completed my first triathlon.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Festival of cycling

I have been consumed for the last couple of weeks with the Tour de France. This year the bug bit particularly hard with a trip to Harewood House to watch the depart. It was Sophie's birthday and so we organised a trip up there with friends to celebrate. This all happened weeks ago but with the triathlon training, working and watching the tour I've not had much time to write this up.

The festival itself was a great experience (hampered slightly by everything closing at 17:00 or 18:00, the food not being veggie or healthy eating friendly, and no-one on  site knowing anything at all ever.) The grounds are lovely and the people were great too. Who knew a festival toilet could be useable after 48 hours on site?

Things we learned

  1. Yorkshire isn't undulating. It is hilly. Period.
  2. It is miles to the shops.
  3. It's difficult carrying cake on a bike.
  4. Sometimes you do actually have to leave a bird sanctuary because Tibetan  monks need to get in there and bless the birds.
  5. Even Half-Maltese people can burn.

Time trial
On the Saturday evening David and I signed up to do the time trial. It would be our first attempt at a race of this kind. A short 12 mile, or 5 laps of the course, race against the clock seemed like something we could fit in nicely before tea-time.

Alarm bells should have started ringing when the Brownlee's lap time was 5mins and 32 secs giving them a time of nearly 30 mins for the course. The briefing described the course as "undulating". They should have gone off a second time when the team time triallists din't finish their first lap in much under 10 minutes.

The start was a slight uphill gradient that steepened slightly  as it came up level with the house. We passed the grandstand for the great and good (by that of course we mean rich) to watch the grand depart and turned left into a fairly sharp downhill section. I had sunglasses on  and didn't see the first speed-bump on  the the downhill. I'm new to TT racing but I'm fairly sure I'd know if it was a good thing to get "Good Air" over the "Jumps"

I panicked a little and slowed my descent. More corners and downhill under an old bridge. The dappled light meaning I couldn't see the road surface... which is just as well as there was a cattle grid at the bottom. A really sharp turn led to  a short, sharp climb with another cattle grid at the top. Then down over concrete slab roads to another sharp corner leading into a climb.

This climb was presumably what the organisers meant by undulating. Hitting it at a slow speed off the last corner I ran out of momentum about a third of the way up and started pedalling in a lower gear. This climb seemed to go on for ever (This is a TT course not a road circuit. I hit my lowest gear on 3 of the 5 laps, dry heaving on  laps 4 and 5)

The last mile was narrow and dappled and frankly covered in pot holes and covered cattle grids, before turning onto the smooth tarmac of  final straight back to the start.

On lap 2 there was a bike in the ditch at the bottom of the first speed-bump covered descent. By lap 3 there was a pile of bikes and an ambulance.

I finished in 55 minutes meaning I averaged 12.5 miles and hour. I averaged over 15 miles and hour on the Dunwich Dynamo doing 10 times the distance. Very slow.

Highlights for me were making the same guy jump out of his skin (with high volume dry heaving behind him) on the climbs (laps 4 and 5) and David completing the ride 10 minutes faster because he was convinced I was right behind him.)

10kmTrail run
Things I learned trail running.
  1. Flat barefoot running shoes are no good for this type of running
  2. Sometimes you can't tell where to go even when there is a sign
  3. The man you think is lost may be just a mile or 2 ahead
  4. It's OK to be lapped by a 19 year old who had completed the 10km run and the 10km bike lap by the time she passed me.
  5. 10km takes the same amount of time to run whatever the surface if you are in a hurry
  6. Don't drink Gin between a time trial and an early morning trail run.
That is all :)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

4 days to go

In 4 days I will be competing in my first triathlon.

I'm not sure I'm ready for the following reasons
  1. Lack of training - I haven't been  able to train due to injury for the last couple of weeks. I also haven't swum nearly enough.
  2. Lack of form - Due to the lack of training and a persistent foot injury this is not the best time to be doing this.
  3. Shyness - Not looking forward to being "on the stage" in a tight fitting onesie so to speak
I will however be turning  up and doing my best. Overcoming fear and avoiding excuses is what I have gained from this process. IF I want to do "A" I need to do "B" and "C" whether I'm afraid of them or not

This last weekend I went up to Hampstead Heath to try swimmimg in my second wetsuit (The first didn't fit.). It will rank as one of my weirder swimming experiences. Muddy water and not  feeling the cold of it through the wetsuit.I wish I'd done it sooner.

I haven't ridden my bike since the Dunwich Dynamo and it desperately needs a clean. Which is what Saturdays are for.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dunwich Dynamo 2014

“How are my elbows looking?”

“Good. A little red, but the skin’s intact. What about your knees?”

“Knees? Fine… Good… well the left one is quite bloody actually”

We’d only got as far as Walthamstow. We’d been riding in a group out from London Fields at the start of the Dunwich Dynamo, when I failed to notice everyone had stopped suddenly. I braked swerved and fell off. Yet again my helmet escaped without a scratch. I can’t recommend my giro gloves highly enough as my hands have nary a mark. My skin however needs a total redesign in terms of impact and abrasion resistance. Luckily the nearest shop had run out of first aid equipment so Adam bought some flannels to mop up the blood.

Thankfully the rest of the trip was much more eventful for all the right reasons.

I’d asked that we stopped at a particular garage on the way out of London. It’s actually in Essex about 20km from the start, but if my leg was playing up it would still be light. I could buy a first aid kit and ride home. I was actually feeling quite up for it at this point and the skin clearly wasn’t going to split on the knee. Inside I opted for a green juice and a samosa. We then went outside to watch a guy negotiate the pumps on a tall bike.

This year rain featured quite heavily. The rain started gently at first but gradually got to the point where the spray off of the front wheel was washing grit and road sludge into my face on the descents. I’m a fairly cautious descender. Quick in the dry on straight roads, but a little slower in the wet and dark with rain streaked glasses. Dulwich Paragon riders are not quite so cautious and I was startled by the speed that people were able to pass me and disappear with red lights blinking into the night.

At the first pubs we stopped for the loo and David kindly lent me his spare front light. That light combined with removing my glasses meant I could now see the road. I was regularly dropping off of the back by this point, but as David is faster than me and Vera was using his front light to see by I was looking out for the distinctive lighting arrangement we had gone with to catch up with them at junctions.

Pub and a puncture
I pulled into a lovely pub forecourt as arranged to find Vera and David waiting out front. No sign of Adam. I was feeling particularly “Hackney” as I requested a light hoppy ale as the man next to me asked for a couple of pasties and 6 pints of Stella. We were there for over an hour as Adam had punctured and stopped at an earlier pub to wash up a little and grab a cheeky pint.

Lunch and a puncture
The official food stop is just short of Sudbury about 75-80 km in and we stopped for a wee and some food. It’s always slightly surreal to see a bright village hall full of dirty, wet cyclists chatting cheerfully.
As we’d lost a lot of time already we decided to crack on.

As we pulled away I considered shouting to the others. My rear wheel felt sluggish and lumpy. On the first descent things got a bit hairy and I accepted the inevitable. I had punctured. The others were now quite some distance ahead and it was at this point I remembered I hadn’t packed a pump. My frame clip for the pump had broken so I had left it behind.

I flipped the bike, against the rules, and set about changing the tube. I was worried though as I couldn’t find the cause or the hole in the inner tube. At that point I realised the local nightclub at the end of the side road had gone from playing euro house to Bon Jovi. They were nearly done for the night.

I flagged down the next person I saw and asked for a pump. I started to panic as the nightclub was now playing ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston. The 2 lads who stopped to help were really nice to me given that I was a panicky oil covered drowned rat with his bike in bits ranting about Bon Jovi.

I set off hoping for the best and rode as fast as I dared towards our next agreed rendezvous point just North of Sudbury.

Riding alone along unfamiliar roads is a relaxing pastime I normally reserve for the spring and summer months during the day. Night riding alone is another thing entirely. A single blinking light ahead gave me hope and I found a group to tag along behind for a bit. Shortly afterwards a lady from Stoke Newington slowed down for a chat.

The rest of the darkness passed without incident  as I fell behind a bit then caught up again. Adam and I rode along for a couple of hours chatting about our respective lives and interests, stopping for a tea along the way.
Finally we reached the lake and caught back up with Vera and David. Loo stop and the last of our food. Ready to go. Adam spots that his bike has a puncture.

It’s cold by the lake as we do some early morning stretches and fix our 3rd puncture of the day but we’re told there’s only 35 km to go.

40 minutes later we stop for a sausage bap  and are told that there’s only about 35km to go (Deja vu).
The second last 35km passes in a blur of early light and undulating countryside, chats to strangers and turns through sleeping villages. The last few miles are gravel covered and slippy from the rain. And then we’re there.

The end at Dunwich could do with another post all of it’s own but queuing and eating pretty much summarises it. Needless to say when we did get back to London I had another flat. When we checked out the tyre there was a tiny spike inside, that when pulled out with pliers, revealed itself to be a 1” piece of copper wire from the fairy lights that must have tangled in the rear wheel at some point.

Juice and a samosa, Falafel and hummus sandwich, Peanut butter and Avocado sandwich (nicked the idea from Rich Roll), 2 stuffed vine leaves, 3 Nak’d bars, Peanuts, Crisps, Salted liquorice (3 or four pieces), Barley Sugar (about 6), Sausage Bap, I pint, 2 teas, 4 litres of water, and a veggie breakfast  on the beach. At no point did I consider eating the gels I brought.
I also got through 2 inner tubes, 4 AA batteries, an oil covered rain jackets and a set of fairy lights.