So now training had now begun in earnest and our thoughts turned to our bikes. Wayne has a heavy mountain bike – not really ideal for 100 miles on the road. He started to look at bikes – hybrid ones (but no suspension) with flat bars rather than drop ones. He’s the King of eBay. No really, he is. It’s truly impressive. I think he could make a living at it. In no time at all he had found an amazing carbon fibre bargain – in mint condition. Lightweight and pretty. He did some tactical last-few-seconds bidding and Bingo, it was his! Not one to hang around, he drove straight away to pick it up and less than 5 hours since bidding he was back home with his new ‘pretty’.
Actual bikes aside, we need all the advantages we can get in order to do this crazy ride so clip-in pedals are recommended, because they increase your speed. Oh boy, with my balance? I have managed to topple over at a traffic light in London for no apparent reason on normal pedals. And managed to damage a finger coming down a slope in Portugal after I fell off and the bike fell on top of me – so badly I had to have 2 rings cut off as the finger had swollen so much. How on earth was I going to survive being clipped in to pedals on my bike? Anyway, my friend, the lovely Tania, was having a clear out at home and donated me some cycle shoes, which miraculously fitted me, and so I just needed to buy the pedals. Also I needed to try to work out how to make my hybrid bike lighter so I could ride it for the actual event.
So to Halfords. Found the pedals. Now time to chat to another Wayne (not my Wayne) in Halfords. So how can I make my bike lighter/go faster? Halfords Wayne suggested smoother tyres and other things. Then he asked my how long the ride was.
Me: 100 miles
Him: (Pulls face… silence… then…) Umm, honestly, that bike is not the kind of bike you should be using for cycling 100 miles. 50 maybe, but 100? No.
Me: Silence as it dawns on me I will really HAVE to change my bike. I had kind of thought I could get away with riding my existing bike.
He suggested that I go for an endurance road bike – which has drop handlebars and all. Eek. I had one of those when I was 15 – a long, long, long time ago! Back then it was called a racing bike and it had a massive 7 gears!
I go home to contemplate what to do and where to buy it from. Putting it out of my head for a bit, (my) Wayne has kindly fitted my new pedals to the current bike and we are off to try the silly shoes and pedals (spods or SPDs). Remarkably, I don’t fall off, but I am the slowest, most cautious cyclist you have ever seen. Wayne rides his new pretty, finds it a bit weird but the blooming thing is so fast, on the roads… all I can hear is the ‘click, click, click’ of the chain [correction: click, click, click of the crank – what is a crank anyway?] as he is free-wheeling behind me while I am pedalling and getting nowhere fast. Grrr.
Training continues and so does the research for a bike, I can’t leave it too late as a new one will need to be run in (seriously!) and I need to get used to it. Evans Cycles have a good range so we head to the Central Milton Keynes branch. Long story short, I settle on a bike. Pay the deposit. It will be here in a week. Perfect – we are now 5 weeks before the ride, I will have 4 weeks to get used to it.
But for some reason I don’t have a good feeling. A couple of days later, I call Evans to check on delivery. “Ah, I was just about to call you – there’s a problem” Turns out there are no more bikes available and they cannot fulfill my order. So now I am really running out of time.
I start researching all over again. The King of eBay helps me and sends me more bikes listings. Some like his (not sure I can be so matchy, matchy, even though the bike is so pretty!) and we see a decent bike for sale near us. The bike is not due to sell for another 10 days. Too late. I contact the seller to see if they will do a ‘buy it now’. But he never gets back to me. Sigh. Is this ride not meant to be?
I start researching the same bike from bike shops, and thank you, Google, find a local bike shop with really good reviews selling similar bikes. I call them, speak to a guy called Andy, who seems to know his stuff and says he has stock. I have hope again! Now I just need to get into see them asap as I am running out of time!
Good news. I manage to get to the shop, get measured and look at the bike they suggest. They have an Aladdin’s cave of bikes and bits – the perfect bike shop! I wait overnight to make sure I am making the right decision – which turns out to be the best idea as the next day, the manufacturer is offering a 20% discount now! Yay. Things are going okay now. So I get fitted for the bike and take it home. The next day will be interesting as Wayne and I planned to cycle more than 40 miles, as per the training plan. Scary stuff: Clip in pedals, different riding position, drop bars, different gears and brakes. I can do it, right?
PS We preparing to cycle for Marie Curie in the Ride London Surrey 100 … here: