One month to go…

Not long now until Winona and I head off to catch the ferry, and it’s safe to say that I’m definitely not where I want to be training-wise. I had a horrible virus-y cold which took me out of any exercise for 2 weekends, and I’ve only been back in the game properly for the past week.

I took some consolation when I was advised that more important than attaining a top level of fitness, is to prepare your backside to sit on a saddle – fitness you can pick up en route, but getting on your bike for some shorter rides a few times a week will be more beneficial (and more achievable) than one long ride of 50+ miles at the weekend. This is all very well, but so far I haven’t managed either tactic in April!

My SUP career has also fallen at the first hurdle. I had booked a beginner session on the Paddington Basin a few weeks ago, but had to postpone when I was ill. Last Tuesday, although still a bit under the weather, I was ready and raring to go…when the company got in touch to inform me that their instructor had fallen ill, and could they postpone a further week?

The Solution

My knee-jerk reaction to the above setbacks has been to throw money at both problems. Firstly – I bought a new ‘ladies cut’ gel saddle. I hope that it doesn’t actually cut – or at least less so than the rock hard men’s racing saddle it replaced. Thus, I’m hoping to skimp on hours of ‘saddle time’ with some gel comfort. Efficient, huh?

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Nice new ‘ladies cut’ saddle. I don’t like this description.

I’ve also panic-bought a month’s gym membership, so that I can at least work on strengthening the relevant muscles needed for ‘supping’, without actually getting on a SUP. They also run spin classes – which I plan to attend on occasions when I can drag myself out of bed at 5.15am. But it’s quite horrible:

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Since ‘The Illness’ I have actually managed to get out on the bike for some longer rides and enjoy the eccentricities of the English countryside:

 

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10 points if you spot the tzatziki

It’s also been a great opportunity to incorporate more pub lunches:

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Scotty and I ready to assist on a local building site

Like a ‘proper cyclist,’ I’ve invested in some SPD cleat pedals and shoes, and managed 40 miles only failing to unclip once – fortunately I fell onto a nice muddy grass verge, all bones intact. I have also installed a ‘Super Tourist’ pannier rack, despite a baffling start:

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Sup, Sup and Away!

Sup-wise, very excitingly two of my oldest (in duration of friendship, not actual age) and dearest friends, Siany and Nems, have signed up to attempt the crossing with me. It’s allegedly made me incredibly unpopular with their respective mothers, although I haven’t experienced this sentiment first hand as I am actively avoiding them until their daughters return safe and sound.

The Mothers (and various other doom-mongers) have highlighted what they perceive to be the major risks involved, with increasing hysteria – sunburn and dehydration, drowning (the opposite of dehydration?), sharks, freight liners, Russian warships and getting mistaken for refugees and dealt with accordingly. Unbelievably, my mother hasn’t really joined in on this cacophony -this should be a relief, but her suddenly ‘going quiet’ actually makes me more suspicious about what she has planned to try and thwart us.

This week, at last, I tried stand-up paddleboarding, with moderate success. The starting point for this Paddington Basin experience was right outside my old office at M&S HQ – never for a second whilst working there did I have any desire to get closer to canal than was absolutely necessary, let alone actually travel self-propelled afloat the putrid water.

I was fairly determined not to fall in, due to a dead pigeon I once saw there (see previous post), but my determination increased a million-fold when I was informed by an ex-colleague that ‘they’ve found a couple of bodies in here recently’! I overheard a wheelchair-bound patient of the nearby hospital request that his carer take him on another circuit of the area as ‘this is good entertainment’, and a child shouted ‘FALL OFF!’ – but against the will of this small but baying crowd, both Nems and I managed to stay standing – albeit unsteadily. Much more practice needed.

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