This time last year I got a very nasty shock.
I was happily sitting at my desk, eating a cheese and tomato croissant from Pret (delicious) and planning my outfit for a seventies party my pal J was throwing that weekend that promised to be debauchery in flares.
My bubble was well and truly burst when an email dropped into my inbox reading thus
“Just a reminder that the Prudential 100 is this weekend. We’ve been trying to get in touch with you re fundraising but think we may have the wrong number for you (they didn’t I’m just shit with my phone). Anyway hopefully you’ve raised the £600 and are ready to ride!”
As cold waves of fear gripped me I had a sudden flash back of blurrily swaying on a pavement at work drinks, clutching a warm glass of free piss wine and slurring “Yarrrr sign me up…hic…I h’actually LUB cycling. Is ralllyyy great an I used to cycle to work…so..hic…im pretty good…isssthaaa a dorito?”
Yep. I’d agreed to cycle ONE HUNDRED miles and then totally forgotten I had done so. And now I had four days, no bike and the very real threat of being fired if I failed to do so.
Shit shit shit shit shit
So dear readers please enjoy this account of how not to cycle 100 miles.
Side note: The only thing that saved me and actually meant I didn’t die on this ride was that by coincidence my incredibly fit superwoman of a mother was also signed up to do it. Mum if I haven’t said it enough before, let me say it right here. You are a superhuman, supermum and I have no idea how I share any of your genes.
– Pick up hastily rented bike and helmet. Ask man in shop if can also have elbow pads and knee pads incase of accident. He laughs in a mean way. Don’t like him.
-Try to ride it round shop and realise is not ‘just like riding a bike’ and is quite hard. Shit.
– miserably wave off flatmate to seventies party and wonder if you could engineer being hit by a car just enough to get out of bike ride without blame but not enough to stop you going to the party.
– Settle in for early night and humongous bowl of pasta because carb loading may be the only good thing about this insane bike ride and also this may be the last meal you have.
– eye bottle of pale rose. Boyfriend says no way. Call him a killjoy and crack it open. One is fine and never hurt anyone.
– Wake up at 5am with a severe wine head and the realisation that your padded shorts that belong to your size eight mother don’t fit. SHOCK.
– wake up your boyfriend and make him help you squeeze into them, hissing “You push, I’ll pull, three two one HEAVE”. (If we can thank him for nothing else, I should probably thank him for that.)
– exit the house in full biking gear looking like Miss Trunchbull if she fell into a barrel of wine by accident.
– get in van only to realise that you haven’t got a water bottle, snacks, a hair tie for your lion’s mane hair or gloves. Luckily your mum has brought them all for you because she knows who you truly are: a giant mess.
– Arrive at the start like you are being marched to your own execution.
– Get on your bike for the very first time and realise it’s not actually that comfortable and you’ve got cystitis because you’re a hungover tit.
– wobble dangerously into the road as your mum calls out words of encouragement like “blimey darling are you alright?”, “mind that van!” and “Do those shorts fit ok?”.
– realise you have no idea how the gears work on this bike and dislodge your chain on the side of small motorway. Make your mum put it back on for you.
– get to the start line and have an internal panic attack at the sheer amount of loons in lycra that have turned up to participate in this form of torture.
– Mum says encouraging things like “look there’s a very old man over there…if he’s doing it then you can too!”. This descends into a not very fun game of how many people are more likely to die doing this ride than me.
– Line up at the start line in your wave where the impossibly chirpy commentator is asking you all to shout out suggestions for you to ride off too. Can only think of Darth Vader’s death march or theme tune to jaws so keep mouth shut.
– get going at remarkable pace. Wind is streaming through hair, feel like light glorious fairy type creature as hurtle through deserted motorways. Consider that cycling may have been your sport all along. Sod you Mrs Stone you think – knew there was a niche for me…I’m a CYCLIST…will probably end up at velodrome a la Victoria Pendleton whilst family cheers wildly from stands and all ex boyfriends cry at the sight of my toned thighs whizzing around like pro athlete.
– legs start to feel a bit weird. Like someone cut off legs and replaced them with stone. Quite hot now. Oh god also feel sick. Why all that wine. Is not miracle juice is idiocy! Stupid stupid stupid.
– want to kill self. Mother is nowhere to be seen as she actually exercises more than once a year and doesn’t eat her weight in baked goods on the regular. Have also been lapped by said 80 year old at start line.
– fuck hill
– catch sight of mother as berth onto the top, wobbling like elephant on wheels.
– jump off bike and shout BASTARD STUPID BIKE DIE DIE DIE and kick it before bursting into raucous noisy tears in the style of Helen from Bridesmaids. When your lovely mum tries to comfort you shout “YOU LEFT ME BEHIND. WHY DID YOU DO THAT. IM ON MY OWN AND I HATE IT” while she looks at you with an expression that quite clearly says “why on earth did I spend 27 precious years of my life trying to mould you into a good human when clearly your default setting is hideous tantruming toddler.”
– At this point your sister turns up with some homemade flapjacks. Immediately mood returns to one of affable happiness as you gorge yourself on buttery sugar. Lovely buttery sugar.
– hop merrily back on bike and pedal away on a sugar high that is akin to being borderline insane with happiness whilst your mum eyes you fearfully.
– reach a backlog of bikers and gratefully jump off your bike as if it’s on fire and have another ten hundred flapjacks and all the water.
-Happily inform mum that this is quite fun actually and isn’t it nice to have such a lovely rest in this fortuitous traffic jam of lycra losers.
– Another biker (and judgemental bitch) loudly informs you that the queue is due to a person being airlifted to hospital. Feel a bit bad about celebratory dance and mutter things about ‘awful..huge shame’ in between mouthfuls of flapjack.
– Make friends in queue whilst ignoring JB and merrily lie about training plans and personal bests whilst mum stares on open mouthed with incredulity. Pointedly ignore her.
– Horrible realisation that whilst it was lovely to be off bike for best part of an hour, lying about all your training you now have to get back on the bike with an arse that feels like its on fire. Lift bottom into breeze to try and cool it down and avoid sitting it on bike seat of pain.
-remember the old adage your friend A once said after cycling London to Brighton: “Fuck me with a bargepole and even if you did I wouldn’t be able to feel it”
-snigger uncontrollably and nearly fall off bike.
– Realise with a cold creeping dread that you are approaching one of the killer hills on the road. How you will get up to the top is anyone’s guess as you had to get off the bike and push it up a very minor slope about half an hour earlier so unless they have some sort of industrial winch you may actually die.
-As you approach the hill of doom and death you hear mass grumbling amongst the lycra losers around you. As the grumbling descends into full fury you realise that they’ve only gone and shut the hill as the race is running too long.
– Join in with the grumbling as the lycra losers spit out burns like “Wouldn’t have even bothered doing it if I knew Box Hill would be closed”, “bloody waste of all that training”. Throw in a “Bloody hell was really looking forward to that one” and try and suppress your cackles of glee and the bubbling unparalleled joy you’ve not felt since you guzzled that flapjack two hours back.
– Realise that the alternative route is a giant gentle downhill slope. Cruise all the way down singing ‘aaaaaweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeee-eeee-aaaaa-weeee-aawimmmbooowaaaayyy’ as all the lycra losers sob with bitter disappointment around you.
– realise with absolute joy and disbelief that the finishing line is in sight. Give rousing speech about how all the training was worth it. Tell mum not to be a bitch when she nearly falls off her bike laughing.
– sail over finish line feeling like Bradley Wiggins and rabbit on to mum about how might look into cycling clubs in London. Decide not to talk to her for a bit as she is being quite rude about new hobby.
– notice there are goody bags and steal five. You deserve it.
This time last year I got a very nasty shock.