At the start of The Long and Winding Road

Well, funny how last year the blogs pretty much wrote themselves. We embarked on the swim project at various levels of knowledge and ability and the humour associated with the learning process just presented itself for sharing every so often.

Looks like this year it will be more of the same. So Buoyed with enthusiasm for the new and exciting a bunch of us have yet again agreed to take on a challenge that we are woefully unprepared for, but time is on our side (as the Stones sang) and I’m sure that by the time we get to September we will be at the pinnacle of our fitness and properly prepared. First things first. This year its a cycling challenge, now you would think that in choosing to take that on at least one of us would have a suitable bike. Apparently not!

Lesson number one a 54 mile road ride needs a suitable bike. A bit like last year when we  only realised after committing that we needed decent wetsuits, this year it seems that the collection of mountain/off road bikes in our garages, aren’t ideal for road riding and so we are all thinking about how best to adapt our steeds. I’ve taken the view that rather than adapt mine I’ll get something second hand (eBay is my friend) that is more suited to the job, and I’ve just taken delivery of a slightly road worn example that has razor like tyres (and sadly a seat to match), plus drop handlebars very reminiscent of the last proper bike I owned as a teenager. In the late 1970’s I was lucky enough to have a proper racer, (I was never allowed a Chopper – too dangerous!) In fact it made me so nostalgic that I had a quick surf to see if i could find one (£700 on eBay for the Carlton Continental that I once cherished, even more for the Choppers). Wish I’d kept it now.

So today is the day to start training, I thought I’d have a gentle introduction to the road, so why not cycle to the gym for my swim and cycle back. A nice gentle 10k round trip to get me started. Now I seem to recall that last year it didn’t take me long to experience pool lane rage, well this year the cycle road rage got to me even quicker. On the way to the gym I’d barely gone 500 yards before some spotty oik teenager decided that he needed to yell at me from his rusty 206 to cycle faster.  Next up (perhaps another 500 yards) I must have suddenly assumed an invisibility cloak, despite being more fluorescent than I would have thought possible I was overtaken on a junction by someone who passed me with their left indicator on as they swung across my path. Yes it was you in the 08 plated Ka. So lesson two take the head cam next time. And yes I will name and shame the poor drivers that it seems I’m destined to encounter.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful although it was a lot harder than I had expected and it was mostly downhill, so on the return leg, harder because I’d been swimming, it was a bit of a slog uphill. Since we decided on this challenge whenever I’ve mentioned it to anyone who knows anything about London to Brighton the very first comment they make involves the words Ditchling and Beacon (in that order). Apparently the worst bit of it comes right near to the end and involves a rather steep climb (or possibly walk), thanks for the encouragement chaps.

So day one training done, will sleep well tonight.

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