I don't get to ride with Jonny very often and this day out had been planned for a couple of months. Quite simply I was going to ride up to his, have a cup of tea with the family, go for a ride, pub lunch and back.
Inauspiciously I had been out to Camden to enjoy all that Camden had to offer the previous night. For those of you that don't know, Camden mostly offers loud music, greasy food and beer. I may not have been in peak physical form at the point of departure.
To get to Jonny's house I have to climb out of Stoke Newington up the Holloway Road, and up through Highgate. The first 3 miles are mostly climbing.
At mile 4 a horrible crunching noise preceded my bike changing itself into top gear. My rear derailleur cable had snapped.
Never one to let a problem like only having 2 gears get in the way of a nice day out I carried on. The thinking was that I'd bodge it into a medium gear at Jonny's and just get on with riding.
At Jonny's after a brief respite for cheese on toast and tea I preceded to discover that there was nothing to be done about the gearing. I'd got 2 gears (50x11 and 34x11) and I was 13 km from home.
Not ideal but I'd survive if there wasn't too much climbing. There were 2 large hills at the beginning and then a few flat miles and shallow swooping descents. By the time we reached the pub there was a loud grinding noise from chain rub at the front derailleur and a clattering as the chain loosely wove through the jockey wheels at the back. I checked the GPS. Another 14.6km done.
We were at the edge of the M25 so I couldn't be too far from home.
We looked into the pub. Mostly Middle-Aged, tweed-wearing and definitely not in sweaty Lycra. We sat outside until Debs and A arrived.
A pleasant lunch with some fine ale followed. The sitting changes and more families arrived. We felt just about OK in Lycra.
By the time we left the pub, the evening was drawing in. I'd only got prescription sunglasses with me and I realised as it got progressively darker that I'd need to lose them shortly.
An improbably long descent followed. I must really check how it's possible, but the journey from the pub right back to my house had 2 short climbs. The rest I did in the larger (and less noisy) gear. All 23.5 kms.
All told, an improbably sunny day and fine riding despite the odds being against us. I'd always wondered how people managed to do long rides like the Dunwich Dynamo on a singlespeed and I think the answer is simply psychological. When I started riding I always worried that I didn't have enough low gears. I don;t worry about that so much now. Some hills are just too steep and long for me to manage, but very few these days. The question is "Can I do this?" not "Should I?" or "Do I want to?"