“I wonder if I could ask you a quick favour” said Andy.
The email arrived in my in-tray in the middle February. “We’re planning a photoshoot for this year’s Bikeathon and thought it might be right up your street! Oh, and can you bring the basket for the bike?”
Well, of course I was interested, but Andy was dreaming about the basket! When I did the 26 mile London Bikeathon last year, I borrowed a number of bikes to try, but none of them came with a basket. However, I know someone who does have a bike basket, albeit attached to a bright red German workhorse of a bike.
It turned out that this was exactly what Andy had in mind, so week later I drove down to Hampshire to borrow “Betty” from my friend, Kizzy. I was used to removing the front wheel from last year’s borrowed bike to get it in the car, so it was no surprise to find that the only way Betty would fit in would be to unscrew and twist the handlebars. Simple. Or so I thought at the time.
A few days later I turned up at a photographic studio in Battersea, along with 10 other cyclists (a mix of volunteers and LLR press-ganged staff) with a full selection of bicycles from a Brompton folding bike to a state of the art racer that weighed approximately 2 ounces – OK, I may be exaggerating, 4 ounces - owned and ridden by Trevor, one of LLR’s most enthusiastic and successful cycling fundraisers.
I pulled Betty out of the car, straightened the handlebars and tightened them up, and went into the studio to be met and welcomed by Dan & Becky from the LLR Content & Communications team.
The plan for the day was to get some group and individual shots in the studio before heading out into Battersea Park to get some “action” shots. Being the end of February, however, and with rain threatened for later in the day, the decision was taken to go outside first. So we all trundled 5 minutes down the road into the park, and lined up our bikes while the photographer set up his gear 100 yards along the internal road. Dan came halfway back to pass on instructions, and the fun began!
“All ride along the road 11 abreast” came the call, “Go!”
And that was when I discovered the difference between tightening the handlebars, and tightening them properly. It’s extremely disconcerting to find that you are holding the bars in a forward-facing direction, but the front wheel has decided to point right. The perfect opportunity to take out 9 of my fellow cyclists. Fortunately I deftly avoided this by calmly taking my foot off the pedal and placing it on the ground to blocking further travel. Well, that’s my story anyway. Ouch.
Somewhat red-faced, I straightened and tightened the handlebars. Properly. Let’s try again.
“Go!” And we’re off. Cycling up to and around the photographer, then turning round and back to our starting positions. Up and down the road a few times, then the call came that we had enough shots. Just as well. Some of us were beginning to turn an interesting shade of blue, being dressed in just t-shirt and shorts, or similar.
Back to the studio, and very welcome bacon rolls all round. A couple of hours getting shots of individual cyclists, and then pizzas for lunch, before getting the group shots in, and finally hearing the words “it’s a wrap”. Hooray! Let’s see what the final result is when the Bikeathon 2015 is officially launched.
Now I just need to start training for the 52 mile event, on 16th August. Injury has kept me off the bike so far, but, hey, there are still 5 months to go. It’ll be fine!
If you're moved by my commitment to beating blood cancer by borrowing yet another bike, you can make a donation to the cause on my Bikeathon fundraising page.