It’s that time of year again where I do my bit for the greater good of the world and go out and cycle for miles and miles in the pouring rain in order to raise some cash for a good cause. So here I am at the Kent cycling festival charity bike ride 2015.
Yes, this year, the British Heart Foundation’s Kentish bike ride is now called the ‘Kent Cycling Festival charity bike ride’. It now has both off-road and on-road routes and is now in September.
So I thought I’d do the longest one (The long red line on map below). It’s 66 miles. The longest I’ve even ridden.
But I have a ‘brand-new-old-second-hand-all-singing-all-dancing-too-big-for-me’ road bike so hopefully I can get round in super quick time.
Yes you’ve read it right – 1350 metres of climbing!!!
Here’s what happened:
I thought I’d get there super early so that I could get into gear (pardon the pun) and wake up. BHF didn’t tell me that the car park was in a different place to the start point. I always seem to end up driving round and round to find the place. Never mind.
So I got to the start point and waited fifteen minutes to register. By that time the earliest start had already started at 7:45am. I wanted to start as early as possible because Google reliably informed me that it would rain about 12 ish.
Anyhow after taking a quick selfie (I’ll be honest, there were blokes standing near me and I have an expression of embarrassment but hey, I was still a bit sleepy.
I could hardly hear the man at the starting point saying important things like “For the road route turn left”. So I turned right. Doh! OK so here’s me feeling even more embarrassed so I decided to just get some miles clocked in. It was 8.10am.
Through Canterbury, Sturry, through the marshland where there are road signs for hamlets I’d never heard of before (been to Martin anyone?) and maybe some don’t even exist on a map.
So another selfie at the first refreshment point. I can’t remember where it was (somewhere around Sandwich) but it wasn’t very interesting so I quickly moved on.
Note that by this point about twenty miles or so in, my legs were already gone. My ‘brand-new-old-second-hand-all-singing-all-dancing-too-big-for-me’ road bike was starting to get very uncomfortable.
The next refreshment point was around St Margaret’s at Cliffe. This was when they said it was about half way.
Still not raining. But it started to rain around the Dover and Google was spot on as it was 12 noon. I’d been cycling for four hours.
Are you still with me cos it’s just about to get a bit more interesting…
Because, you see, the Police are great and wonderful and fight crime and put bad people away, but they are still humans and all humans make mistakes right? So there I was cycling round a slight bend, near Dover, when a police van started to overtake me – realised that there was another car coming the opposite direction and decided to, well, shall we say, occupy the same space as myself! Yes you read it correctly, pc plod decided it was better to run into the side of me, than it was to drive into a car. Lovely. The only thing I could do was take evasive action, grabbed some nearby railings and just managed to avoid the offending vehicle. If the railings weren’t there, there would have been a nice long fall.
PC Plod stopped and apologised and I went on my way as there wasn’t much use ranting to him about it (which is what I really wanted to do). Another cyclist who saw everything made sure I was ok and also had a word with pc plod. (Thanks for your help mate).
At the time of writing I’m awaiting a written apology from pc plod.
[Update: Written apology received]
Anyway, averted tragedy over I was back on the road and the heavens opened and I get drenched. Yeay!
The next stop was…
The ‘Wrong Turn’!
So slogging along slowly but surely to the next refreshment point at Bridge for a quick banana and some dolly mixtures (I know, I haven’t had them for donkey’s years but they worked as small sugary sweets for a quick energy boost).
So it was about two miles from Bridge when this happened…
The Puncture Incident
If this picture had sound you’d hear some very colourful words. Even more of them when I tried to put my spare ‘super-duper-halfords’ inner-tube on and it was the wrong size (Thanks Halfords – you really messed up. Big time). Cue even more choice words when I tried to pump up the punctured inner-tube to find the hole, but couldn’t because my pump didn’t work properly! And all of this happening in the pouring rain without my glasses on as because as soon as I stopped they steamed up so much that I had to do all of this half blind!
So here I was in the middle of no-where with no transport. So I called the BHF team who got a search and rescue 4×4 to drop me and a broken bike back to Bridge where the bike maintenance man put a new inner-tube back on. Overall the incident took about an hour or so.
A massive Thank-you to the search & rescue man, the Bridge maintenance man, the BHF phone man and the Bridge team of volunteers – you were all bloody FANTASTIC.
OK so no more dramas please. I trundled off back past where I had the puncture and saw a pebble that had been chipped to being razor sharp. The culprit.
Another twelve miles til finally I reached the bitter end.
I finished at 3:50 pm.
Over 7 ½ hours of a very uncomfortable, wet, drama strewn adventure. And absolutely cream cracker-ed!
But still feeling proud that I’d achieved my good deed.
Here is a picture of my ‘brand-new-old-second-hand-all-singing-all-dancing-too-big-for-me’ road bike which is soon to be sold to the highest bidder. Interested? Let me know, but if you’re 5′8″ then really don’t bother cos it’ll be too big.
And just when I was putting my bike in the car I noticed ‘The Bulge’. This was the inner tube bulging out of the massive tear in the tyre which went almost from top to bottom. I was so lucky I didn’t get another puncture!
Here’s where I say a massive Thank you to everyone who has donated to the BHF. There’s still a few months left if you still wanted to donate. You can use my donate page.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my escapades. Some things I’ve learnt from the experience:
- Never trust a policeman to keep you on the road.
- Always buy a bike that is the right size.
- Never trust a Halfords jobsworth to give you the right information.
- Always rely on dolly mixtures to give you a quick sugary boost.