Charity Bike Ride

I took part in the charity 50 mile Coventry-Rugby Bikeathon on Sunday 12 June. The day dawned bright and sunny but by 8am it had clouded over and had started to rain. Undaunted, I drove with my trusty steed to the starting point in Brandon, near Coventry. By this time (10am) the light drizzle had turned into a steady downpour. After registering and meeting up with my fellow riders off we went.

To cut a long and very tough story short, it was trial by water and then, in a classic case of sod’s law, by wind on the return leg. By the time 20 miles had elapsed, I had lost sight of my friends, who were well ahead of me on their flashy racing bikes, and I was feeling somewhat demoralised. The only thing that kept me going was the fear of letting down my sponsors, who had helped me raise well over £600. The rain simply got heavier and heavier and, despite being kitted out in what was supposed to be the latest hi-tech rain gear, I eventually got soaked to the skin and very cold (it was just 10 degrees … in June!). My leg muscles were screaming at me to stop. I felt as though I was sitting on a sharp pole. Morale continued to plummet. Eventually after nearly taking a wrong turning and being put right by a young girl who was doing the ride on child’s bike with no apparent attempt at rain gear, I reached the 33 mile checkpoint at The Shilston Arms. I was desperate to, and did, take advantage of the pub’s facilities, not least a very fine pint of Black Sheep beer and of course a welcome respite from the storm.

Although very reluctant to get back on the bike, especially as a gale was now blowing, this break did restore me sufficiently to enable me limp to the end into the accursed headwind, which seemed determined to put a stop to all forward movement, and successfully completed the ordeal. This was possibly the most welcome ending to anything I have ever done, beating even ascending the 3,000 meter Mount Olympus in a gale. At the end I was rewarded with a medal for completing the course and enjoyed a complimentary pig roast. Never has pork tasted so succulent! As I drove home a very warm glow started to envelop me, not least because I had done it and raised all that money for a very good cause. It will, however, be a very long time before I put my name forward for a similar venture!

For those of you who love stats, the pedalling time was almost exactly four hours and average speed a rather feeble 12 mph (discounting the stay in the pub).

Mark Armitage
14 June 2011

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