Tag Archives: Counting down

One!!

I’m an idiot, so I now have some lovely red chafe marks on my legs, even before I start the ride – after the photoshoot yesterday morning I visited Tate Modern with Charlotte then went back to work.

Foolishly, in the interests of getting back to work quickly I put on trousers over my cycling shorts, which were fine at first. They became less comfortable throughout the day – by the time I realised that they were properly painful, it was time to ride home. Oops.

They are still a bit red this morning but not too bad, it just shows how dumb I can be though.

I’m finally all packed (as of two minutes ago). I think. I did rationalise a bit this morning and worked out that I didn’t really need to take five different books with me, when did I think I was going to get the time to read them?

I set off for Watford Junction shortly (with Bryony), where I will meet up with the team for the long drive to Land’s End.

Wish me luck.

PS, I watched the final episode of the final series of Battlestar Galactica last night, the series was fantastic, but the end was very, very bad. I won’t add spoilers but I can’t believe how monumentally lame it was.

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Two!

In two days I set off from Land’s End as part of The Race Against Time (TRAT) riding a fast, six day cycle ride to John o’ Groats.

I saw my picture (in armour with bicycle) in the local paper this morning, which was fun. Then Bryony and I made the trip to Trafalgar Square to meet up with most of the team and support crew for a publicity photograph with news presenter Jon Snow. Sadly Mr Snow couldn’t make it but we all got to meet up, many of us for the first time.

Some overzealous rentacops did turn up while we were being photographed and tried to stop us for ‘security reasons’ (what is it with fat blokes and polyester?) which was on the high side of pointless. We were standing in front of one of the fountains in Trafalgar Square, with Nelson’s Column in the background which must be up there as one of the most photographed views in London. What sort of terrorist group dresses up in lycra and rides around on bicycles in a big group – “Britain is the Great Satan and we shall defeat the accursed dogs with our 1337 paceline riding Skillz, see if we don’t!” We should have explained that we were a situationist terrorist group and derided them as the Lackeys of Dada-ism, whatever that means.

What with images of Trafalgar Square already being freely available on Streetview, Google Earth, Flickr and anywhere else you care to name, I can’t see what on earth they thought was the problem (and the reasons changed as we went along I understand – first because it was “for security” (which means fuck all), then because we “didn’t have permission”, which when we moved to take pictures in front of South Africa House (who we *did* have permission from) transformed into “you’re breaking a byelaw”.

I’m quite tired now but looking forward to tomorrow – just got to pack up the last few things tonight and I’m ready. All is well with the bike, the fundraising is still going well (nearly £1,500 now, continued thanks for all your generosity) and there’s not much left to do other than ride the bike.

With all the work in training and fundraising it’s going to be a relief to get out there and just have to cycle – it’s going to be harder for Bryony I reckon, she has done the bulk of the fundraising work and doesn’t get the big payoff of getting out and doing the ride – while the ride is going to be a lot of work, it’s going to feel like the end of the process (apart from the party on 1st August of course!)

Almost on our way. Two days to go…

Three…

Last night I was quite jittery so had to watch something to take my mind off it all (Clerks II – when you need to take your mind away from grim reality, Kevin Smith is your friend). The enormity of the task ahead was getting to me a bit and it was hard to relax, so the film helped. Tomorrow morning is my last opportunity to deal with any last minute stuff so I need to do all the work tonight to find out if there are indeed any last minute bits and bobs to sort out.

Everything I can get done tonight will help make Friday as relaxed as possible. I’ve got washing to do, new tyres to put on the bike and to swap the spd pedals over for (hopefully) less creaky ones. I’ve got one bit of kit left to find (armwarmers) but other than that I know where everything is I think.

There’s a team photoshoot tomorrow in Trafalgar Square with the news presenter Jon Snow (also president of the Cyclist’s Touring Club (CTC)), my second media tartness of the week. Hopefully the photographer at this one won’t run away so quickly, it will probably help that I won’t be dressed up in armour this time.

Only three days to go now…

Let the Permanom commence!

This blog might have given you the impression that I’m some kind of lean racing snake.

This would have been a very wrong assumption – because, despite all the cycling I do, an addiction for beer, curry (and other food that you can only phone for) means that I’m probably fatter than you would imagine possible for someone contemplating an undertaking like TRAT. I’m a bit of a wobbly lardy bloke at the moment to be honest, which is very bad.

This is kind of worrying on one level but it does mean that for a week or so I really, really, really don’t have to give a stuff about calorie consumption, as a few days from now I will be in the enviable position of not actually being able to take enough calories in to cope with the demands of the riding I’m taking on. “What do you mean this chocolate bar only has 452 calories per 100g? Bring me the chocolate minty lard!”

I’m not recommending this as part of your normal calorie controlled diet.

Five…

After a great effort from Charlotte, TRAT Race Director, we’ve got the full complement of eight riders again – the new additions being Phil, brother of Liz who is already riding (bit of a family affair as their father is going to be our chef for the trip too!) and another bloke called Rauri – welcome on board to both of them. Those extra two riders make a lot of difference in a group, believe me – from my Saturday morning Richmond Park rides I have got used to riding in groups of about 8-12, if people drop off the back it becomes noticeably more work as the group shrinks. Eight is a good number, so I’m both happy and grateful.

My bike is now ready for TRAT, so hopefully so am I. I got it back from the shop and all of the various noises and creaks that I’m too incompetent to identify (or fix) have now gone. This is doubly good, as well as the tune-up reducing wear on the components which weren’t in best order, I won’t be annoying the hell out of everyone else on the ride having to listen to the various rattles, creaks and squeaks coming from my bike (they will still have to put up with annoying noises coming from me though).

Yesterday lunchtime I picked up various castors and fixings in order to sort out my bike box, will hopefully bodge those on ok tonight (this isn’t for TRAT, it’s for the Marmotte but I won’t have much time once I get back to sort those out).

Yesterday evening I got interviewed (over the phone) by the Kingston Guardian, so first thing on Wednesday morning they expect me in armour, on a bicycle for a photocall! I hope I got across the key points in the interview about TRAT and how the funding is used. They also seemed to like the Medieval Fight Club idea and what Andy and I do with it – hopefully it will lead to further interest in our show.

Recent new donations have tipped me over the half way point towards my fundraising total; with money pledged offline the total is now just over the £1,000 mark which is brilliant, thank you very much once again to all concerned.

Six…

On Saturday I did my last training ride (on the road at least) in Richmond Park – was a good four laps and I was happy both with my average speed and the fact that I felt reasonably fresh at the end of it.

With a party on Saturday night (and a wobbly tandem ride home) and lots to do yesterday, I decided against the Sunday training ride.

I’m still not sure that the training I have done overall has been the ‘right’ sort of training in that I’ve really picked up my speed on the flat but possibly not done enough distance work (in fact I know I haven’t). Anyway, it’s too late to worry about that now and I shall be taking it reasonably easy for the rest of the week. I might do a last turbo trainer climb on Tuesday but that will be my last actual training ride.

I’m still much heavier than I would like for climbing too but there’s nothing I can do about that anymore – I’m stronger on the bike than I have ever been so I’m going to have to hope that brute force and ignorance will get me through compared to gazelle like climbing grace.

I rode to work today at what I thought was a deliberately gentle pace (I had to stop myself from latching on to the wheels of people overtaking me). Despite that, I still managed a 14.3mph average, which I would probably have had to work for at the start of the year after getting out of condition.

So fitness wise, I’m in very good shape I think. Mentally I’m committed to it to and sure I’ll get through, although I expect the first few days to be a real shock to the system. I think what I’m looking forward to most is getting to the end of day two – for one, I will see some of my family, but mainly because I will hopefully have got through the first two days ok and know that I will be able to continue.

My bike is at the shop having a grown-up give it some care and attention, fortunately the chain and rear cassette didn’t need changing this time and the mechanic has given the bottom bracket some tlc. Hopefully the gears have been smoothed out nicely too.

I pick it up tomorrow morning as I’m on my other bike this evening (need to make a delivery of some maps and leaflets over Ealing way). A broken spoke on this bike that seems to have appeared from nowhere added a few logistical woes to yesterday, especially as they are bladed spokes on a wheel type that I have even less of a clue than normal how to fix.

Fortunately I do have a spare wheelset, so I swapped the rear cassette over (it had an 8 speed on it previously and anyway, for smooth riding and even chain wear I’m told that you should always use the same cassette with the same chain. This is one mechanical task that I can do (it needs specialist tools which I already have) so that wasn’t too difficult. It does remind me that I need to learn to do a whole bunch of other bike maintenance stuff – I can replace a brake cable but I’m hopeless at indexing gears so these are fairly basic tasks that therefore cost me money by having to get someone else to do them.

This week I’ll be packing to make sure I get everything ready before Saturday – I have already found and washed most of the kit I will take with me (except my armwarmers, must look those out). I kind of have to get ready for the Marmotte at the same time, as I will only have two days after I get back from TRAT to prepare for the long journey to Grenoble (which reminds me, I must buy the new castors for the bike box).

So there’s lots of little things to do, not least of which is attend a publicity photoshoot on Friday with John Snow who is patron of the Bishop Simeon Trust as well as his other roles.

At the moment, I’m starting to feel the twitchy, nervy excitement that will build and build until the moment before the off.

Only six days to go now…