The weekend before last, Nasty and I somehow came up with the *brilliant* idea of cycling from:
Don’t ask me why I thought it was a great idea, I probably thought up half of it anyways, which means I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind…
So last Saturday morning, we set off on our bikes at 9.50am from north-east London.
We cycled through west London, seeing sights I haven’t seen in ages (Big Ben) and passing by places I’ve never been (Battersea Park). I was again amazed at how big this friggin’ city is and how much of it is still unknown to me.
Cyling through and away from London, it was interesting to see as well how cycling trends change.
Trendy Shoreditch fixed-gear and single-speed bikes were hardly seen outside east/central London. The further away we go, the more lycra-clad cyclists whosh past. Embarassingly enough, as soon as we left London, and for as long as we were out of London, I was the only person I know wearing a neon yellow high visibility vest (think construction workers) (and yes, I think it’s ugly, but I got it for free, so might as well wear it). Probably because of the risk of being run over, a lot of cyclists in London wear one. But outside the city, I felt like a highlighted idiot.
Going through west-end posh neighbourhoods, we arrived at Richmond Park an hour later.
I gasped seeing it for the first time. It was like going on safari! I’ve never seen anything like it. This must be the best park I’ve been to yet.
The park is humongous and people can drive through it’s paved roads. In the distance, horse riders gallop through the plains. On the tarmac, groups of (again) lycra-clad cyclists slice through the wind, and on another grassy plain, kite-boarders unload their gear.
Best of all was the magnificent hordes of deer roaming free in the park.
They were so close, so accessible, I was awe-struck. I wanted to go closer but was afraid they would charge me with their big horns. Do deer charge?
We stopped for some food and drink and then set off again towards Godalming. I wanted to stay in the park forever…
Cycling to Richmond Park took an hour, and then from Richmond Park onwards, time stood still and it felt like an eternity before we arrived at our destination.
The distance and physical exertion aside, what made it additionally difficult was the wind that was blowing against us the ENTIRE day.
As the hours wore on, my legs got heavier and heavier and I cycled slower and slower.
Slowly, each rotation of the pedals became a struggle, I kept shifting to easier gears, but even on gears that are normally easy-peasy for me felt like someone’s added a ton of weights to them. It was a constant mental battle to not get off my bike and just push the damned thing up the many hills.
After a while, when you’re on semi-major roads like the A307 and you have no choice but to pedal on, you try different mental tricks to get yourself going.
Going up the hills, I tried to be positive and look forward to the downward ride after. I channelled images from the Tour de France and imagined I was doing something as amazing as that. (Yeah right.)
But then when the packs of cycle club members whosh pass me in their colour-coordinated lycra and closed rear wheels, clipped cycle shoes and aerodynamic helmets, I peddled with a too-heavy overnight bag on my back and I cursed them. DAMN YOU you cycle geeks and nerds!
Unsurprisingly, taking photos was the last thing on my mind, as such there are no photos of Nasty massaging my thighs on the road side, no photos of us studying our maps, no photos of us drinking our 2 litres of water, no photos of Nasty always cycling 200 meters in front of me coz I’m too slow, no photos of Nasty yet again stopping to wait for me to catch up, no photos of me grimacing and cursing my way up hills…..until we finally reached Guildford (2 train stations away from our destination) and we stopped for a pub lunch.
We regained some energy, was finally in the country lanes, and we cycled the final stretch home along a river and canal.
Fresh , crisp air away from London…
…includes horse shit air.
Scenery like this made me feel like all the slogging through traffic on the motorways earlier was worth it. (Just don’t ask me to do it again.)
We also came across a World War II era pill box along the river, one of many set up across the English country side to stockpile weapns and men in anticipation of a German invasion that didn’t happen.
After 7 hours of cycling (including one tea break and one lunch break and too many I’m-so-effing-tired-I-just-need-to-sit-by-the-road-side breaks), we finally arrived in Godalming at 5.18pm.
This was one of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever done.
I asked Nasty how he felt. Was he tired? Was he as exhausted and amazed as I was at what we’ve achieved?
He shrugged his shoulders, skipped around the house, and said he felt fine and had fun and then went to pet the cat. He spoke as if he’s just came back from an everyday half-hour jog.
Meanwhile, I thought was I going to need extensive therapy and recuperation to recover. I walked around with jellied legs for the rest of the evening, and suffered from neck, shoulder and leg pain for the next few days.
We cycled a total of 40.84 miles in a day, when all the “training” I’ve done is cycling to the shops and parks in London. I have to say, I don’t care if you’re a lycra-clad cycle nerd and you do this everyday, but I am immensely proud of my now very painful acheivement. I would’ve never thought I could do something like this. :)