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19 Days Left

Posted by
12 Aug 2014

And another “new” bike

I’ve been getting slightly concerned that cycling did not seem to come as naturally to me as it once did, even allowing for the fact that it’s been 17 years since I last clambered aboard a non-motorised bike. So when my old schoolfriend, Paulette (obviously my old friend is the same age as me), offered me the use of her daughter’s bike for the London Bikeathon 2014, I jumped at the chance to try out a different type.

Thus I have now swapped the gents' mountain bike for a ladies' hybrid, and the joy of cycling has returned – along with a feeling of great relief that I should actually be able to manage 26 miles on this one.

I went over to Paulette’s on Friday morning, and we spent the next few hours cycling 10.5 miles round Horton Country Park and environs. It took a few hours as obviously we had to stop for refreshment at a local, ahem, garden centre – or at least that’s what we told her husband. I’m sure the two deer I spotted on the way back were not a figment of my imagination.

I didn’t want to overdo the exercise as I had already booked another Sussex ride with my Bikeathon partner, Nicki, for the following day. The first hurdle, though, was getting this bike in my car. Unlike the mountain bike, it has handlebar extensions, and it simply wouldn’t fit. Fortunately, it has a quick release front wheel which is simple enough even for me to understand, and with that off it fits in the car. Phew!

On to Saturday morning, and I felt far fitter than expected – my posterior, although moaning wasn’t actually whimpering, and my dodgy knees were soon sorted with a liberal application of Voltarol. I met Nicki at East Grinstead to do the western cycle trail – Worth Way – over to Crawley. Off we happily trundled, and I sampled the childish delights of riding through the deepest, muddiest puddles (testing the tyres, you understand).

The locals are not as friendly to the west of East Grinstead as they are to the east, not so many returned greetings and thank yous from fellow track users. Arriving at Three Bridges, we turned our noses up at The Snooty Fox pub, and decided to head back and look for something more welcoming closer to the start.

We’d covered about 11.5 miles when I suddenly felt tired and was struggling to climb even the gentlest inclines. Another ¼ mile and all was explained when I looked down and realised that the front tyre was rather squashy. Another ¼ mile and it was no longer squashy. It was flat.

It was at this point that we realised that, between us, we had a puncture repair kit that neither of us had a clue what to do with, and no pump. A quick phone call, and a Knight in Shining Armour (or Nicki’s partner) was on his way with a pump. Which had a valve fitting that didn’t fit my tyre. At this point we decided we might as well call it a day, so our Knight carefully put my bike in his car and drove me back to my car, while Nicki carried on cycling. Needless to say, she beat us!

After suitable refreshment (is there a theme here?) Nicki & I parted company – me to drive home via my lovely friends at Halfords where I was able to just take the offending wheel in rather than the whole bike, and Nicki to cycle home the remaining 2 or 3 miles. I got a text from her an hour later – she’d got a puncture in her rear tyre!

Lessons learnt this week? Get lots of spare inner tubes and pumps for 31st August, and learn how to use a puncture repair kit!

If you're moved by my commitment to beating blood cancer by becoming proficient at bike maintenance, please donate on my page.

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