Why do we do it?
I missed out on a perfectly decent FNRttC the previous evening, even deliberately going to CM without any tools so that I would not be able to ride then. They had reasonably fine weather whilst I knew that the forecast was worse for Saturday.
However, having gone all the way to Liverpool Street by train, met Oscar’s Dad & Annie01 off their train, made our way chez Comet and then enjoyed a wonderful Vietnamese meal at an establishment endorsed, apparently, by Mr. Blair (his judgment isn’t totally lacking, then) the time came for us to go. I was within a whisker of going straight back to Liverpool Street and heading for bed, but the Stubborn Git within me (sometimes I wonder if I have any other qualities) wouldn’t hear of it, so armed with overshoes, rain legs and a spanking new Goretex coat (a birthday present to myself earlier in the week), we headed for London Fields.
Eight of us sat down to eat: Charlotte, Comet, OD, Annie, Mark C, Nutty, Fidgetbuzz (who had ridden down from Norwich and parked his bike inside the restaurant) and myself. We left the Two Cs behind, one of whom had already been zzzing like a top for quite some time before we went to the restaurant. We got to London Fields and were joined by Chris S, Stefan and Adamski.
It rained and it rained and it rained and Piglet said to himself that he had never before seen such rain in all his life and he was …how old? Three? Or was it four? To be honest, I didn’t mind for the most part, because my waterproof gear was working well, but faerie puncturius aquaticus were out in large numbers and several intrepid cyclists were affected. Chris S twice, others (in the cold light of day I can’t remember who) and because the rest of us were getting cold standing around, the consensus was that most of the group should keep moving.
Annie took this advice seriously, and stoked up on e-numbers in the form of jelly babies and wine gums. During one particularly prolonged visitation, she told us that the main reason she cycled was to admire men’s bottoms. Now I’m a pretty broad-minded chap and if that’s what floats your boat, Annie (and indeed a boat would have been much more appropriate last night) then that’s fine by me, but on a night in which June is trying to pretend it’s November, I did cast a weather eye, as it were, at the lycra-clad buttocks there present, and frankly I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about, even on Gay Pride day. Pass the jelly babies!
As time passed so Oscar’s Dad and I found ourselves in the most unusual position that we formed a breakaway group. The “fast men” were continually puncturing, the “middle” group also had a visit or two, Annie’s new and expensive-looking lights had packed up but the habitual lanterne rouge in the form of yours truly blazed a turgid trail though the Great Bardfield, Wethersfield, Finchingfield, the Hedinghams and we were eventually overhauled again, but news filtered through that Annie had had a bit of a mishap involving a drain. She hadn’t fallen off, but had been pretty shaken. OD and I continued fairly slowly, but there was no sign of them catching us.
Sometimes the rain almost stopped, and soon after 3 a.m. I thought, but wasn’t sure, that I detected a slight lifting of the darkness and we could definitely see that there were a few breaks in the clouds. We were going to be rewarded with a sparkling dawn and everything would be all right!
All wrong! True, the dawn was welcomed first with dualling songthrushes, then some blackbirds, and last of all the King of the Birds, the Wren, put in an appearance. But some time after Little Waldingfield (what a lovely village that is!) my fatigue was getting the better of me. I wasn’t short of blood sugar but my arse ached and a drowsy numbness pained my sense (no, no nightingales) and Oscar’s Dad was somewhere over the horizon. I started to fall asleep while cycling. It was a very odd experience, mini-absences of consciousness, enough to make me swerve violently as I came to, wondering why the verge was so close. Then I came on Oscar’s Dad, sitting on a bench, head back, eyes shut, mouth open, having a rain-soaked nap. This was the point at which I decided I’d had enough and as if to emphasise the point, so the heavens opened once again and the Japanese Water Torture accompanied me all the way into Stowmarket, to be replaced by another form of torture because the station lavatories were locked and my bowels were responding, as Charlotte had predicted they would, to some sort of exotic mushroom within the curry.
Eventually the station opened, I visited the lavatories, thankfully equipped with copious quantities of hot water in the wash basin, and then wrestled with the bloody ticket machine which for some reason didn’t want to allow me to claim my Network Rail card discount, so I hit the Senior button instead. No-one complained.
I hope the others are all OK. We all should be locked up for such acts of sheer stupidity.
Total miles: 90.26
Riding time:8h 40m 18s.
Ave: 10.4 mph