Over the last three days I’ve been out on the touring bike with tent and kit in my panniers for the first time (and about time you might say!). It needed to be done as practice of cycling with the extra weight but also of living out of the pannier bags, and I’ve already learnt from my first schoolboy error…
On Tuesday I cycled from my flat in Borough, London up to my parents’ house in Oxhey, Herts which is a pretty simple 30km ride. But I took longer than I planned to get the kit sorted and packed onto the bike so didn’t leave home until 3pm and therefore set off into the afternoon central London traffic just as it was getting dark, not ideal but once I got out of London it was actually a pretty nice evening for a bike ride (for mid-Dec). The original plan had been to reach Oxhey and then pitch my tent in the back garden and get set up to sleep in it, the process I’ll have to do at the end of a day’s cycling many times in Brazil. But since it was dark and cold outside I decided to wait until the next day to pitch the tent, and happily showered, ate and slept in the house!
I woke up on Weds to a very foggy morning, but the weather forecast said it’d clear later so no problems, I thought. The main event of the day was to go and visit a WFC Community Sport and Education Trust project in Watford at 11am to midday, so I wanted to get in a quick morning bike ride and then another in the afternoon and be done before it got dark this time. So off I went into the freezing, as it turned out, fog. Not ideal weather to train for tropical Brazil:
Did a quick 10km ride, back to the house, showered, changed and walked into Watford to the YMCA to meet Andrea and Connor at the CSE Trust Disability Football session. I received a very friendly welcome and watched the guys do a warm up, some ball skills and then play a 5-a-side game. I must say there was some deadly finishing on display and the goals were flying in! Connor then asked me to tell everyone about my cycle tour plans and finally we took a group photo:
Walked back to the house, got changed back into cycle gear and set off again to do a 20km ride up to Radlett and back. However, the fog hadn’t lifted and it was cold! Apart, that is, from up on the hill in sunny Bushey Heath:
So given the foggy, damp, cold weather I again decided not to pitch my tent, after all what was the point, I can practice that in a park in London any time!
On Thursday I wanted to get a longer ride in, with all my kit back on the bike. I downloaded a route that follows a 60 mile loop from Hemel Hempstead up around Leighton Buzzard and back, and so I set off at 9.30am and sped through Watford and up to Hemel… which is where my friends John (aka Mike) and Susie live and they had their first baby a few days ago (so they’re still at the hospital and I’ll visit them next week)!
It was another foggy morning but not quite as cold, and thankfully about half eleven the sun began to peak through the gloom:
It was a lovely route along quiet country roads so I enjoyed the ride. Stopped for a pub lunch after 50km and ate a big pie, mmmm. Then continued until 3pm when the sun was starting to set so I checked the Garmin and asked it to direct me to Tring train station so I could head back to London and finally cycled from Euston back to Borough, in total a 90km ride for the day. All good.
Apart from that schoolboy error… after lunch I took off my Team Sky cycling jersey and stuck it under the hood of one of my pannier bags, then rode on. When I got home I realised it was gone, must’ve slipped out and fallen in the road somewhere, thinking back that’s probably why a following car honked at me! I won’t make that mistake again, can’t afford to lose kit when I’m in Brazil, and it takes all of 10 seconds to open the pannier properly to put stuff inside then close it again!