Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Sunday, ah Sunday, a restful day, a late alarm, a cup of tea, a gradual emerging from the snug cocoon of well-deserved rest, an amble to the paper shop, a leisurely and indulgent breakfast, a late lunch with family and friends, a glass or bottle or two, a recuperative, restorative, indulgent day.

So why was I up at 6:00 making up water bottles of electrolytes and energy, cramming croissant and banana into my mouth, squeezing my protesting body into snug lycra and meeting up with 70 or so whippet-thin cycling obsessives to ride 50 miles up hill and down dale across Southern England and 35 miles back.

There's a fine charity run by some lovely people, the 'Children with Special Needs Foundation'. Our chums, Gordon and Ann run it and they'd put an event together with the local Foxhills golf club near us to run an organised fund-raising 'sportive' (bike ride).

We'd assembled an equipe of nine bicycling friends and myself. I sorted out some team kit, branded long-sleeve jerseys (it is September) and we huddled at Foxhills at unearthly o'clock for coffee, danish and nervous laughter.

Our team, as you can see, was a good looking group and all in fine fettle as we set off with our ride guide 'John, a man who obviously has cycling coursing through his veins, (veins very evident on a man carrying nothing that remotely resembled body fat).

We set off well and passed a couple of the earlier groups, all was going well for the first ten miles until your humble correspondent, (who traditionally only shines on fast downhill stretches for some reason) had a bit of a 'coming together' with another of our team. He was mercifully unscathed, I however managed to buckle my front wheel, bend my chainring and pulverise my lower back. Our guide, John, was phlegmatic and parried all my attempts to get a ride back in the van, by summoning a spare bike and ensuring that all my many and varied excuses came to naught.

The remainder of the fifty miles to Farleigh, near Croydon passed pleasantly and with much challenge but I can't deny that I arrived at the lunch stop with a spring in my step, a spark in my eye, a quip on my lips and sadly, a twisted wrenching muscular mess of excruciating pain across my lower back.

Along with the other, "that's quite enough for me" retirees I made my way back on the team bus while   most of our team survivors set off on the 35 mile return leg. Luckily by the time they arrived back I'd done a serious quality investigation of the complimentary prosecco and was poised to attack the excellent hog-roast.

Special mentions for my colleagues in the team should go to Dean, who was 2nd over the finish line, bro-in-law Graham who rode his mountain bike the whole way and now "never wants to see that bike again, ever". Chef Winston had an 'orrible fall at 50 miles, minutes from lunch, lacerated a leg (his own) but manfully bled the 35 miles home. Steve C and Dave B who kindly called it quits and came back on the bus to stop me feeling lonely, Anna, (Mrs Shouty) rode an excellent ride and Richard and Glen, (the other XLshirts) who were a delight to ride with, kept me motivated and only ever slagged me off when they thought I was out of earshot.

All in all a fun day for a worthy cause

and as I lie here, wracked with pain, supine and suffering, I'm really looking forward to next time, if I can get my bike fixed, and get a bit fitter, and find anyone willing to ride with me, etc. etc. etc.


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