And now for some RIDE24 training.....
It all seemed so easy at the time. Type a few hundred words about how petrified I was about having to participate in a cycling event with, y’know, proper cyclists and that would be that for a few weeks.
However, when I sat back and admired my handiwork on the bikebritain website, it occurred to me that I had actually entered into a contract with myself and, by extension, you the reader(s). Not an actual contract with terms and conditions and clauses, but an implicit agreement that the next time I wrote, I was actually going to have done some preparation for RIDE24. In other words, I was going to have to do some cycling. This being, after all, a cycling website where I imagine features about how little cycling I had managed to do would have limited appeal.
Fortunately, I have thrown myself into my training regime with a modicum of gusto and, over the past fortnight, I have notched up 183 miles of cycling whilst holding down a full-time job and going to the pub too often. I’m quite pleased with myself but, as always, this achievement needs to be slightly qualified. As discussed in the previous article in this series, there is a world of difference between the smooth, continuous Goodwood circuit and an ambling commute through South London, pausing every few hundred yards for the latest set of traffic lights. I’ve actually got rather good at calculating the optimum pace to ensure I can navigate several consecutive sets of traffic lights without stopping. This does, however, involve cycling at a snail’s pace for quite considerable distances which isn’t ideal practice for an event where one’s ability to cycle very slowly is unlikely to be tested. Still, I keep telling myself it is ‘miles in the legs’ which is certainly difficult to argue with if nothing else.
These 183 miles have been completed straddling the ubiquitous hybrid, with the consequence that it is now making some hideous noises and is a pale imitation of its former glory. The somewhat uneven surface of the A3 and the A24 has certainly taken a toll and has sadly raised the issue of my bicycle maintenance skills. Dear reader, I have none. What I do have is a remarkable ability to damage the parts of the bicycle that were previously working and fail to address any of the impediments I was trying to fix. The net result of this is that my once-mighty steed is now grinding and whining around South London and any attempts to remedy this on my part will definitely make it worse. So I’ve given up on trying.
You’ll remember from last time my delight that my participation in RIDE24 had effectively forced me to buy a new bicycle. You’ll also notice that hasn’t yet happened. It remains the plan, but rather than trust myself with such an important purchase, I have engaged the assistance of the bikebritain overlord for this procedure, which will hopefully have taken place for the next episode in this sorry series. It is at this point that the hybrid might get the attention it needs from a professional with even the slightest competence, and not a moment too soon.
To finish then, a short anecdote from my new job, which is not yet a fortnight old. It should probably be noted that I am typing this from my desk at 11 o’clock in the morning, which I believe demonstrates that I have settled in. One of my first tasks was to attend a meeting with a senior member of staff and, upon arriving at the meeting room, we discovered that somebody had decided to store their bicycle there and had locked it to the table. My esteemed colleague was both apologetic and disgusted and, before I could signal my comparative lack of abhorrence, launched into a fifteen minute rant about cycling, cyclists, and cycle paths, with specific reference to the very route I use to get from my flat to my job. I usually like to give myself a month or two settling in time before I start getting into arguments with senior managers on the pro’s and con’s of cycling, so I smiled politely and left her to it. Imagine the awkwardness when, that very evening, she pulled up next to me, astride my bicycle, at the traffic lights on our way home. I managed what I hoped was a hearty wave as I pedalled away, leaving her to negotiate the sluggish traffic. She’s not followed up on our meeting. I can’t decide if this is due to her embarrassment or whether her hatred of cyclists crosses professional boundaries. I’ll keep you updated.