Ride around London September 2012

So, you go to a wedding. The bride and groom are both cyclists. Many of the guests are cyclists, runners and triathletes. You have too much to drink, sign up for a 115 mile bike ride and…well you are committed, aren’t you?

Then you tell all your friends who tell all their friends and before you can say ‘Lance Armstrong’ (can we still say that?), you have a full size peloton. And so about nine of us set off in the dark from Crouch End, led by Paul ‘The Machine’ Mccrossin and his bride Charlotte. Brother Mark McC a 3 time PBP finisher had come over from Oz for the wedding and joined us. Izza, Costi, Mark H, James R for whom this was his first 100 miler, myself and the great Sean Conway http://www.cyclingtheearth.co.uk/ made up the grupetto.

All went well until Elephant and Castle where a split occurred, but we were re-united at historic Herne Hill Velodrome, and joined by more erstwhile wedding guests. After one lap of the circuit our enlarged group set off from the start and pootled down towards Box Hill. As the road started to get more lumpy, the intrepid Sean Conway began to dominate the gradients. he fairly sprinted up those hills. Arriving at the foot of the big climb, he took off and was soon a dot in the distance. By this time our team had disintegrated, but at the summit five of us regrouped and stayed together until the finale in Lea Valley.

We had started quite far back in the field, but now IzzaGray and Mark B sat on the front and steadily mashed out the miles, occasionally Mark H, Sean or myself would have a go on the front, but really we were saving ourselves for the intermediate sprints. (Only I knew when they would take place!)

It was a fine ride up to Windsor, the only mishap was Mr B losing his way. However, after a lengthy lunch in the shadow of the castle, combined with some great banter, we struck off into the wind, bound for the Chilterns. I suffered a little on this stretch, but the boys kindly tempered their efforts to accommodate the ageing sprinter. After some splendid miles through rolling countryside we encountered the short, sharp shock that is Windmill Hill, just before the final re-fuelling stop in Chipperfield. It hurt the legs, though not Sean’s I hasten to add.

After a pause that was just about right in every respect, the gallant riders tackled and disposed of Tom’s Lane with elan, and crashed down the latter part of Smug Oak Lane hoodlum-like. This was all bravado for me because Shenley Hill drained dry the resources left in my legs, and I had to hide behind someone riding a hybrid to get my breath back.

Never mind, we all suffered a little, the four of us even distanced Sean on Ferny Hill, but I believe he was distracted by some left over kebab in his beard from the night before. Soon we arrived on the straight drag to the finish. We all made a mess of the sprint and got beaten by a chap on a Brompton…..only kidding.

Great camaraderie in our little band. The others had a more gentle ride and arrived later on, no doubt still suffering from too much champagne at the wedding.

I take my hat off to the Brompton riders, and especially the two chaps on Boris Bikes who completed this lovely ride. Many thanks go to Access Sport who organised the event and also to their cheerful, friendly volunteers.

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