The training has gone well, I’ve averaged around 500km a week for the past month so feel I have plenty of mileage in my legs ready for next Sunday’s Livestrong Challenge. This isn’t my first ride for charity but I am hoping it’s going to be rather more successful than the last one. Friends may recall that Richard and I rode 125km from Birmingham to Oxford in July 2007, just before Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France in London. Richard finished the course and I ended up in an ambulance!
We had set out from Solihull in the West Midlands at 07:15am in light drizzle, having quaffed a couple of Red Bulls; which incidentally does not give you wings, but it was worth a try. The rain later disappeared only to be replaced by a heavy crosswind or was it a headwind, when I could really have done with a tail wind. Who would have thought that the route to Oxford would have been so undulating; not me. Thanks to the weather leading up to that Sunday, the country roads were awash with debris, particularly gravel, mud and twigs which gave rise, on my part, to some kamikaze descending.
The “race” was well organised and the route clearly signposted. However, something (maybe the Red Bull) rendered us invisible to motorists, most of who were driving 4x4s and seemed to derive great pleasure in drenching us with muddy water and driving us into the hedgerows – it would never happen in France!
I had a “chute” at the start of an ascent, about half way into the course. I conveniently managed to land in a pile of mud which clung stubbornly to my pink Rapha rain jacket. On the subsequent steepish ascent, I found it difficult to get going again. At this point in a pro-tour race the mechanic usually gets out of the Directeur Sportif’s car to give the rider a bit of a push. As luck would have it there was no one around, so I kissed the tarmac again and, unbeknown to me at the time, broke my cleat. I then had problems attaching my shoes to the pedals and after 100km conceded defeat, allowing Richard to continue without me.
As I walked very disconsolately along the road pushing my Orbea Diva, I was picked up by an ambulance (hopefully my one and only trip in such a vehicle) and deposited at the next feed and service station. While, the mechanic there could have fixed a puncture, he was at a total loss as to how to deal with my broken cleat – so, race over. Frankly, I’m not sure I could have completed 125km but I would have liked to have given it a go.