A couple of weeks ago some of my colleagues and I took on a 100km cycle ride across London. Starting at Crystal Palace the ride would see us pass various sights of London with a climb up to Alexandra Palace. Why did we do it? Because we thought it would be a fun and different way to raise money for WDM and we like a challenge. Plus after Andrea and Glyn had signed up and decide to start at Crystal Place it felt wrong as our self-proclaimed mass participation sports expert not to join them.
Before the night Andrea, Glyn and I got together for a 50 mile training ride from Colchester to Cambridge. While the roads of Essex and Cambridgeshire lacked the hills we would face we learnt a bit from the ride, such as make sure you check your tyre pressure before you start.
This was followed by a pub quiz to help our fundraising efforts which made over £100 but left us with an important question: if our bikes had names, what would they be?
The day of the ride began with a trip with to a pop up community garden in Blackfrairs, where attached to nearby lamp post I spotted a sign for the ride. After that it was home to relax and prepare. After cleaning my bike and re-lubricating the chain a last minute panic ensued when I could not find the bracket to fit my front light. Panic over and light attached, new batteries fitted in all my lights and tyre pressures checked I decided to make quick trip to see some friends at the pub, show off my bike and get some advice about the best way to Crystal Palace.
A gentle ride to Crystal Palace gave me an idea of the hill we would be facing to finish. Having found Andrea and Glyn it was time to begin our journey, with a quick check of the official clock said it 23.30 and time to begin. This ended up being the last I saw of them until the end. I could claim it was not my fault... the opening descent, the need to keep distance from other riders and the traffic meant I lost them in the mass of riders, but this did not stop them sticking together.
I never thought I would cycle over Tower Bridge or across Piccadilly Circus and around Trafalgar Square. Or get the chance to turn Docklands into a race track. Seeing the Crystal Palace towers from Alexandra Palace was a surprise... but not as welcome as the sight of one of the towers as I rolled along Crystal Palace parade and across the finish line. It was almost as welcome as the ice cream van at the top of Ditchling Beacon. And if my bike had name, it would be Marianne...