What an amazing event!
My day started at 10 AM when I hopped on a train to get to Nottingham. Having arrived there Matt (Tolliday) picked me up from the station and we drove to his passing signs to the legendary watersports centre. “Aha, we’re in Fule country” I thought. I’d have liked to go and look at the place so I could picture Mike’s write ups in my head a little better but unfortunately time didn’t allow.
We got our gear organised and then were driven to Cambridge station by Matt’s dad. From there we caught a train to Nodnol and then made our way to the start point for the ride, a pub in a park in Hackney, handily named ‘The pub at the Park.’ When we arrived there were heaps of lycra clad two wheeled types lounging about, sipping beer and swapping stories of Dynamo’s past. We ended up chatting to a very jolly fixie rider from Devon and a nice lady from Sith Ifrika.
We ummed and ahh’d for a bit as to whether to wait for the guy to turn up with the route sheets or just set off and make use of the map print outs Matt had prepared. After we’d ummed and ahh’d long enough to drink a beer or two it was 7.30 and we decided to just head off as we wanted an early start so as not to be overtaken too early.
So off we went. I was a bit anxious about riding through London traffic having never done so before but it was actually alright, stopping here and there to check we were on the right track we made it to the M25 in good time. It was around here when we saw the first riders, a couple of recumbant types. We then continued on to Epping Forest where the first of a steady stream of riders and morale boosting comments came past us.
We’d been warned that Epping could be a bit dodgy with lots of drunken people generally causing hassle but we got through hassle free and soon afterwards the traffic began to thin out a bit. Later on I was having a chat with a chap who’d had a rock thrown at him in Epping and was expressing the wish to stove in his burberry clad head.
It was getting dark now and we stopped to switch on our blinky red lights to avoid being run over though it was still light enough for me to keep my aviators on. We stopped at a garage round here so that I could get some spare batteries for the speaker to my mp3 player.
By and by we turned off the A road we’d been on for a good while and saw the first of the t-lights in a jam jar laid out to reassure us nocturnal pilgrims we were on the right track.
We kept ourselves amused throughout the ride with a game we dubbed ‘Roadkill Bingo,’ a point a piece for the first man to spot an ex mammal or bird and an instant win if you saw a snake. I took an early lead but was soon overtaken by Matt’s eagle eyes. This game got harder as it got darker but the morning saw a revival of our interest in snuffed stuff in the gutter.
When it had gotten dark proper we stopped at a pub to refill our water and to get the rolling disco up and running. I’d brought my MP3 player with a battery powered speaker to keep us entertained along the way so on we spun to the strains of Jack Johnson, Rage Against the Machine and John Butler amongst other stuff. Some of the bikers slowed down and rode with us for a while so they could listen to the music. I’m really rather glad we had the choons to keep our minds occupied.
It was around that point when someone told me they’d heard a woman had been hit by a car around Epping somewhere it was only when I’d got home yesterday I heard the sad news that in fact a man had been hit head on by a van and had been killed. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/essex/5162602.stm
We’d covered the first 30 miles or so in good time, the Assos cream was doing it’s job and we were feeling good about making the halfway point in good time. However we started to slow down quite a bit after this point and our crotch stops became more frequent. I found it necessary to stop using the Assos cream which is good for preventing chafing and move on to vaseline which I find good for once you are actually feeling sore.
Most of the rest of the ride up to the feeding station at 65 miles is a bit of a blur now, fatigue does funny things to you. It began raining at at some point whilst it was still dark and we found a Chicagoan chap called Saiid who’d become lost. He wasn’t having a great time of it, he’d been roped into doing the ride by his boss and had lost him along the way. He rode with us most of the way to the food station where he called it a day.
At about 60 miles I started feeling pretty crap, I knew that I was hungry but not even the Soreen appealed to me. The saddle soreness was becoming an issue too and our stops were becoming really quite frequent. I’d started the ride wearing bib shorts and another pair over the top but I took off the second pair about 20 miles in when I realised they were only making things worse by bunching up and rubbing in tender places.
We made it to the food station at about 5.30 It was raining really heavily so we stayed there 'til about 7. I put on my arm and leg warmers and doezed off for a bit. We set off again but I didn’t last too much longer after here. I ended up stopping in a village called Little Tittyflop or something similar while Matt carried on. He’d called his dad to let him know where I was so he could come and pick me up. In the intervening time I plonked myself on a bench on the village green and put my headphones on.
This was real Daily Mail country and I was expecting to be moved on by an irate local thinking I was the advance vanguard of a group of travellers. Instead, happily enough, a really lovely lady came out of her house and asked if I was OK. Yup was the answer. She then asked if I’d been riding all night, again yup was the answer. She then asked me if I wanted a cup of tea… Oh lord. Yes, yes I did. They’d run out of tea and coffee by the time we’d got to the feeding station so I was absolutely gagging for a brew.
She sat with me until Matt’s dad arrived in the car and we had a chat about the ride and about Little Tittyflop and what a lovely place it was to live. She wasn’t what I’d have expected a resident of this place to be like. She introduced herself as Muff and pointed out her car which was covered in pink heart decals and had the word “Muff” emblazoned on the windscreen above the driver’s seat. Hooray for oddballs in posh places.
After using her toilet I hopped into Matt’s dads car and we drove on to where Matt was. He’d covered another 5 miles in the time I’d been drinking tea and chatting. He was still keen to get to the end but time constraints and practicalities were the enemy. Hats off to Matt for having the fitness and general chutzpah for wanting to continue. My fitness levels simply weren’t up to scratch but then I wasn’t really expecting them to be after only agreeing to do the ride a week and a half in advance.
So that was that, I managed about 70-75 miles and Matt another 5 on top of that and could have done more. We breakfasted chez Little Chef and then drove back to Nottingham. As you’d expect we didn’t stay awake for the drive back. I managed ot keep myself awake for the train journey back to Macclesfield but finally dozed off during the football. I’ve only just found out what happened in the second half.
Ooh, I nearly forgot about the result of the Roadkill Bingo. Like I said, I took an early lead with some good spotting of foxes and pigeons only to be overtaken by Matt’s superior sense of sight (and possibly smell). Matt sealed the deal though when in the morning I heard him cry ‘SNAAAKE!’ Well blow me, there was one very flat adder on the road, instant victory for Matt. Well done that man.