Fairies half-flat 200

Oh arse biscuits indeed!

I arrived in Bethersden, put the bits back on the bike which I had taken off it so that I could get it into the car, reported for duty and then I got a text message. It was Charlotte, asking me to report her having packed. The 300ers had a real Ordeal in the night, and having the Blue moon ride fresh in my memory, I understood perfectly. So Billy No Mates set off in the steady rain wondering for how long I could put up with this.

It was not long before Fatbloke’s Prophesy came to be. “It’s tempting providence,” said he, stroking what for the want of trying might be an impressive beard, “to put the words ‘Fairies’ and ‘flat’ into a ride title. No good will come of it! You mark my words!” Well, when I suddenly felt that sickening lurch to the left as the rear tyre flops about on the rim, I did indeed mark his words and gave him 10/10. Go to the Top of the Class, Fatters!

I had been building up quite a nice time cushion as well, but with about 30 minutes wasted replacing the tube (the first few of those were spent wandering along the road looking for somewhere safe to work on the bike), I was not in the best frame of minds, and even a decided lifting of the cloud cover and the sun appearing did not cheer me up as much as you might have expected. For one thing, although I carry two spare tubes, it doesn’t help a lot when one of them is a 700C and my tyres are 26 x 1.5″. A second packet of arse biscuits please.

Mr. Micawber could well have ridden Audaxes. Average speed with stops: 15.5 kph, result: happiness. Average speed with stops: 14.5 kph, result: misery. So I continued to be miserable even though the countryside was beautiful, there wasn’t a hill worthy of the name, and I was being treated to the nicest weather we have had for about 3 weeks.

It really is amazing how long it takes to claw back a time deficit. My average riding speed was well over 18kph, and I knew that this was enough to get me round and allow me to eat in some comfort. But throw a few fairy bites into the equation and suddenly it’s not enough again. Add to that the need to socialise (I don’t do miserable anti-social git) and I’m really up against it. I stopped at the first control for a bacon butty, a cup of tea, a natter with the controller (who lent me a track pump) and to put a patch on the perforated tube; then again by the roadside where a very pleasant couple had given up their Sunday in order to mark cards and feed Audaxeers. So by the time I had completed the first 100k, I was still well behind.

Luckily, being the lanterne rouge came to my rescue as all the other controllers were getting pretty fed up by the time I got there, and were ready to pack their bags and go as soon as I did, so although I arrived a little late at Rye, by the time I got to Hythe I was, remarkably, 15 minutes ahead of where I needed to be. Another quick butty, visit the kharsi and off on the home straight in glorious weather: indeed, the sun was so bright that at times I had trouble seeing the road.

I arrived back at Bethersden at around 9 p.m. feeling really quite pleased with myself, as this is the first 200k that I have completed without some sort of hitch or other. But I could hardly walk. My knees had seized up again. They were no problem when I was pedalling, but they didn’t want to do anything else.

The worst bit came on the M20. “Think” said my imaginary sign, “don’t drive when excruciating knee pain prevents you from transferring your right foot from the accelerator to the brake”.

One hot bath later, in which I washed my hair with a concoction called “Beautiful Brunette”, I’m hoping that the knees won’t give me as much trouble as they did last week after my 100 miler.

Dr Death

I found this on the internet somewhere while trawling about for another poem:-

Dr. Death

When Doctor Death’s out visiting
Maybe he’ll call on you today
And leave the neighbours pondering
How suddenly you passed away.
You seemed quite well, and then you died.
The hearses glide down every street
Where people in the town of Hyde
And Doctor Death have chanced to meet.
The first one greets him at her door.
The second doesn’t cry or cringe.
Another pulls her sleeve up for
Kind Doctor Death with his syringe.
A needle pricks the arm she bared
So simply and obediently.
She had no reason to be scared,
And now she’s dead on her settee.
Kind Doctor Death is much admired.
He’s rarely tired or agitated.
He signs the paperwork required
To get the evidence cremated.
The reaper’s scythe goes swinging on,
Swiftly, sharply, no time to rust,
His black cowl hideous upon
The doctor they had come to trust.
For all his arrogant abuse
Of life and hope for healing care
He never offers an excuse.
Not one. Not even to declare:
“My way, their dignity’s ensured.
What would they sooner have instead?
The underfunded general ward?
The geriatric cattle-shed?”
His mind’s a levelled graveyard, where
No human feelings can impinge.
So there is nothing left to scare
Kind Doctor Death with his syringe.

Family Debate

I have just had a new experience – I was a judge in a School’s debating competition.

To make it even better, the teacher organising the competition was my daughter Ellen. And one of the other judges was my younger son Graham. Another was Prof. Richard Norman (any relation, Liz? Wink).

There were three debates in the morning and two in the afternoon. The topics were:-

“Euthanasia should be made legal”

“A law banning Incitement to Hatred has no place in a Liberal Democracy”

“Soap Operas have no artistic merit.”

“If Global Warming is happening, there is no evidence that it is man-made”

“There is no room for ethics in British foreign policy”

I was one of 3 judges in nos 1, 4 & 5.

I think my proudest moment was during debate 2, when Ellen took the Chair, and Prof. Norman and Graham were 2 out of the 3 judges, and Graham’s mate Steve was the other. Watching Ellen chairing the debate as though she had been doing it all her life, and listening to Graham asking really searching questions of the two teams, totally confident in front of an audience, brought a tear to my eye.

Of debate no. 2, after we were at Ellen’s house eating Chinese food, Graham summed things up succinctly: “Quoting John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism when you are in the Lower Sixth is pretty fucking impressive!”

Probably just as well that he saved that one up for when the Head Teacher was out of earshot!

The Blue Moon Ride

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
Max: 30.1
Riding time:8h 40m 18s.
Ave: 10.4 mph