Monday 28 October 2013

Crispy, crispy, Benjamin Franklin

This was the week that I cycled the St. Crispin's Day Night Ride'. The ride had nothing at all to do with Benjamin Franklin. However, each time I thought about the ride the words 'I had a dream, crispy, crispy Benjamin Franklin came over' would enter my head. These words reminded me of my buddy Jet and our appreciation of Regina Spektor. Anyways, before the St. Crispins Day Night Ride was cycled I had a few shorter cycle outings during the week.

My first cycle was with Ron. We cycled the classic Deer Route using our ride bikes for a change. This was the first time in a short while that I had been out with Ron. Ron was suffering 'war wounds' from a recent boating accident and had mashed up his knee a little. Hope Ron recovers soon, we have both entered the 'Mr Pickwick's Cymraeg Cyrch' 200k audax which is on November 9th.

I cycled the same route again the following day. This ride was different in a number of ways though. For a start, Ron wasn't with me. I used my mountain bike. Oh, and I cycled in daylight too.

My 3rd outing was another blast of the Deer Route. I decided to use a different bike again, this time I used my single-speed mountain bike. Despite not having a working rear brake, I cycled the off-road 'dirty' version. 

The 4th and last event of the week was the St. Crispin's Day Night Ride. In keeping with all the other events of the week, I cycled using a different bike again. Oh yes, this event was to be cycled using my newly built up single-speed. Big thanks to 'Saint' Chris for building up such a splendid machine.

No, don't get confused, 'Saint' Chris was not St. Crispin. My buddy, Gary 'the cobbler' posted me a comment informing that St. Crispin was the patron saint of shoe makers. The internet (probably) provided the best information relating to St. Crispin - 'Saint Crispin's Day falls on 25 October and is the feast day of the Christian saints Crispin and Crispinian (also known as Crispinus and Crispianus, though this spelling has fallen out of favour), twins who were martyred c. 286.[1] It is a day most famous for the battles that occurred on it: the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the Battle of Balaklava (Charge of the Light Brigade) during the Crimean War in 1854 and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific theatre in 1944. The Battle of Agincourt was dramatised by William Shakespeare in Henry Vfeaturing the St. Crispin's Day Speech in which Henry inspired his much outnumbered English forces to fight the French saying "the fewer men, the greater share of honour".
The feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian is 25 October. Although this feast was removed from the Roman Catholic Church's universal liturgical calendar following the Second Vatican Council, the two saints are still commemorated on that day in the most recent edition of the Roman Martyrology.' 
Chris,  Zombie not Saint!
I met my buddy Chris at the start in London. He looked dead already and we hadn't cycled any distance yet. It was fair enough we were tired, this event didn't start (officially) until midnight. We must have started about half an hour later because we faffed a little, let the long queue of cyclists die down (about 400) and ate Chris's home-made bread and jam sandwich. 

Once we started out on our journey it felt great to be riding my new (old) bike. Sadly, the chain was making funny noises and we had to stop to fix problem. Whilst fixing problem, we were over taken by many cyclists and sure enough were in the 'Lantern Rouge' position before too long. After removing chain links and fitting chain links it proved that was not the problem. The problem appeared to be resolved by tightening up the chain tensioner. Woo hoo, all fixed and on we went.

The first stage was probably the longest. We were cycling, eagerly awaiting cake at the first control. To get to said control we whizzed through London, passing 1,000's of folk out partying (I presume) and looking out for all the pretty iconic land-marks we passed. This was a crazy stage as it was people busy and there was lots of stop-starting at traffic lights. The rain was heavy initially but we didn't care as it was very warm and suitably donned in waterproof gear. We had the usual navigational problems despite both having a GPS unit - we were chatting so much that we paid little attention to the directions. After cycling well over 40k (and passing many a cyclist that was initially ahead of us), we began to wonder if we had missed the control. Hungry we both were and Chris made a list of all the food he had prepared to bring but had forgotten. On this list was pizza, egg, jelly babies and flap-jacks. Grrr! We saw some folk take an obvious diversion (short cut) and then, wow, we had reached the control!
Chris at the first control
The control was a pub like building where they served us 'cake', after stamping our rider passport (much like an audax brevet card). I was thinking carrot cake or sponge cake as I cycled along, but no, this cake was a mince pie and a couple of biscuits. Hmmm. I hid my disappointment from Chris who was well impressed with the organisation. (The organisation was good but didn't compare to the likes of other organised events I had completed). A swift cup of tea was had and then Chris really did get 'top trump' - he ordered us both a pasta bake and yum yum, it was mega delicious. I was expecting a cheese pasty type thing but this was a cheese covered bowl of delight.

On route to the next stop we picked up a straggler. This straggler was a chap called 'Neil'. We informed Neil of our poor navigating but he chose to stick with us all the same. Silly devil, he had joined us and sure enough we were cycling the reverse route to the middle control. We didn't care and it was fun to have Neil join us (prevented me from having to listen to all Chris's guff). We reached the control without too much bother but with plenty of banter.
We were not-so hungry at the control but ate our provided chicken dish up all the same. This control was great for a couple of other reasons. The first because we collected our bottle of wine (kinda the focal point of this bizarre ride) - a 2012 bottle of white plonk. Secondly, we missed an almighty down pour of the heaviest rain.

Leaving the control, we set off as a threesome. Neil had decided he wanted to stick with Chris and I. Much of our conversation was about cycling pursuits and particularly LEJOG. I think Neil had thoughts of completing LEJOG and it would be great if these thoughts became plans. We could have cycled the reverse route again during this stage to make amends of the route we cycled but we didn't. We decided to cycle the correct route - the route we had cycled already. It didn't look overly familiar because it was dark and distance-wise there was little in it. The control (once reached) was the same venue as the first control and we had the same 'cake' only minus mince pie.
Neil and a prized bottle of Crispy wine
I marked my arrival at the control by knocking over and smashing the biggest possible (empty) bottle of wine. Oops, that's what happens when I don't attach my cleat covers. Time to get out of there…

It was fun cycling the last section. We slowly watched the night turn to day and that coincided with my lights losing battery power. At one point we cycled through a lovely park where lots of deer strolled about - some were wearing moose like antlers. Very bizarre. The actual route cycled is presented below.
As can be seen above, the route was essentially flat. A perfect route for the single-speed machine. Chris had a geared bike but he only used 1 gear throughout (save the automatic gear shifting here and there). On the subject of 'automatic gear shifting', that's kinda what Neil had. Neil's bike was equipped with those electronic gear shifters which he said were great. Apparently the battery pack for said shifters would last about 2,000 miles too. The stretch from the last control to the finish was relatively short and Neil had got a second wind during this stage and essentially led (paced) me and Chris to the finish. How awesome to complete a 100 mile event and on a single-speed too!
At the finish, our rider passports were stamped for the final time. To make the event more memorable, we were then photographed with the podium girls. The digital print was not available at time of posting this entry (but will publish once available).

Chris and I packed our bicycles away and then joined Neil (and friend) for breakfast and farewell's. Neil was full of thanks for our support which was nice, but to be fair, Neil was a welcome member and pulled his share too. Am not sure what it is with post event breakfasts but this breakfast was as nasty as usual! Ha!

Managed to cycle 242k throughout the course of the week and on 4 different bikes too! Kay O, my single-speed road bike is my current favourite! My yearly distance cycled to date now stands at 10,827k.

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