The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. An excellent book, and I have been quite excited since I heard that they were finally making the film. Eventually the date of release comes closer and closer, and it becomes apparent that living in glorious Aberystwyth has its downsides - only one cinema screen… and it’s not showing Hitchhiker’s! Hmm. This is one not to be missed, so what to do? Aha. Make a joke with a friend who lives in Shrewsbury, the nearest big town, that we could ride there and watch it.
Two weeks later and the joke becomes reality, and with two good friends on their bikes, I set off on my 29er, headed for Shrewsbury, 76 miles away. The road out of Aberystwyth towards the English border is beautiful, especially when you cover 30 miles by 9am.
At a remarkably consistent 10.5mph we pushed on, past breakfast, second breakfast brunch, lunch, afternoon snack, through tea, before making it to Dave’s house in Shrewsbury in time for dinner. Part of this exercise was to see just what it feels like to ride over 75 miles in one day. It feels good! The amount of food, water and sugar that one can consume seems almost unlimited, and we were still hungry later on.
Due to being on the side of A roads the whole way I didn’t get many comments from passers by. A handful of honks from trucks and cars was about as good as it got. I did manage to achieve my ambition of shouting ‘it’ at someone else though… a Reliant Robin coming the other way was on the receiving end of a triumphant yell of “OI, mate, you’ve lost your other wheel!!”. Hehe.
My KH Fusion cover airseat conversion was working a treat, but I still had my first experience of the infamous Butt Butt’r. I had my doubts, but no longer. If anyone else thinks that it sounds silly, or that they wouldn’t need it… think again. Your friends may laugh hysterically when they hear what it is, but the ego pain is a lot easier than the other pain that would otherwise continue! Who would have thought that the Elixir of Life could be bought in tubes from the internet?
So, we went to the cinema, towels to hand. The kiosk man didn’t feel up to making a concession for a ticket, despite a straight-faced request that I had got my towel and could I ‘borrow’ a ticket please? But after paying, it was a superb film. Possibly the best kind – where it’s possible to quote along with the script even on the first time of seeing it.
The second day is where it would get more interesting. 76 miles is all well and good, but two days running is more of a challenge.
The sun was beating down, our tans were coming along nicely and the chocolate milk from lunch was just making its journey down the path to the everlasting stomach, when my riding height dropped a small but substantial two inches. A flat airseat. Nice. Nothing a quick puncture repair can’t fix though, and within minutes we’re back on the road.
Five minutes later… down again. Hmm. But on a downhill stretch, so my cycling friends were off into the distance, so I made it about another mile or more, effectively on a seat base. Something every cushy airseat user should do now and then – it’s good for the soul. Once we regrouped, I had another look at the tube in my seat. The folding up inside the cover seems to make it rather susceptible to abrasion, and large punctures.
Any advice to prevent this?
With another 50 miles to go before getting home for the night, something had to be improvised. What could possibly work? Thanks to the indelible advice of Douglas Adams, I had my trusty towel with me. Rolled up, it fitted snugly (very snugly) into the cover, and made a concoction vaguely resembling a saddle. Towel fabric may be nice a soft and fluffy when in a loose sheet, but when rolled tight and sat upon it gets amazingly hard. Still, I thought. Worth it, if only for the claim that I did it. After about 25-30 miles of the torture it seemed to get better. Whether the towel was moulding to me, or whether I was getting more and more numb, I don’t know.
My triceps have been having a good work out though – constantly leaning down on the handle trying to relieve weight from the seat.
The other, more concerning, issue that arose from a ride of this scale, were my Achilles tendons. The phrase ‘red hot iron bars’ would be useful. During the second day they got tighter and tighter until I could still ride, but after dismounting, could barely walk. It felt like I might have to give up at some points, but as the day went on it seemed to pass. Fairly scary though. I did do warming up and stretching before riding, and after longer breaks… any advice on this problem of tense tendons?
Conclusion… 154 miles in two days on a 29er is very possible. Average speed of 10.4mph. Chocolate milk is good. Butt Butt’r is good. Always know where your towel is.