Day 1 can only be described as Epic. The title for my maiden entry could of ranged from the boy scouts motto ‘be prepared’ to ‘why?’, to a million other thoughts that raced through my head during my first 8 hour and 42 minute cycle from London to Harwich.
All 7 senses were acute from the first revolution of my pedal. Every rattle and hum of my aging mountain bike was sensed, analysed, explained and filed. The first 10 miles I meander my usual route to work, however, this time the details of balance, posture, riding style and resistances are all pronounced Everything looked different today the colours more vivid, sounds of London more intense, poor air quality more noticeable. A man in a blue van was clearly smoking something he shouldn’t whilst driving down Embankment , my new super senses allow me to manage the situation in an instant, clock the guy, make eye contact, communicate through ESP that I am there and I know exactly what he is doing; so he better not screw up. Getting through day one without an accident is imperative. The more days I go without incident the weaker the argument for ‘I told you its a bloody stupid idea to cycle to Istanbul’ becomes.
Turning big gears on the bike and super senses are very nice but unfortunately when the adrenalin and excitement of a new adventure wear off the reality starts to bite. My legs tell me not to rely on leg muscles any more in the high gears and my new focus becomes my lovely new cycle computer. In a moment I reach the realisation that how fast I pedal pretty much determines my times and distances and then the numbers horror begin.
Averaging 11.6 mph will mean the distance of roughly 2500 miles to Istanbul (not direct) will take me 215 hours of time in the saddle which if I cycle for 5 hours per day will take me 43 continuous days to get there. As I look down the road I clock road signs to my next waypoint for a bakery donut- 22 miles to Chelmsford that means that it will take me just under 2 hours to get there and it is now starting to rain and that assumes Im able to keep going at an average of 11.6 mph. Why didn’t I spend that £90 on a nice Brookes saddle my backside is now starting to feel a little rare and it would of only cost me less than 5p per mile for the luxury. My attention turns to distances and how long it takes me to cover one mile. Seemingly forever; actually 5 minutes 17 seconds. If you are bored reading this, imagine how I felt trying to convince myself that boredom wasn’t going to be a problem. In this case hiding the cycle computer and plugging in the IPod is a pragmatic solution.
As I usually find out starting something new my prior perceptions and anticipations versus the realities for day 1 were slightly misguided. Some for the better and some for the worst.
|Prior Perception||Reality and Conclusion|
|Printing off Google Maps will be enough to get successfully to Harwich||Rubbish – saving myself £12.99 on a road map cost 16 lost miles. Don’t cut map corners|
|Cycling nearly 100 miles to Harwich will be easy – I already do 20 miles every day to work||It’s not. Especially carrying 35Kgs of equipment that I don’t usually carry to work. Next time practice with more than a 1.2 mile cycle around the block fully loaded before leaving.|
|UK roads and cycle signs will be a nightmare and difficult to follow||Cycle signs in the UK are great. I had never taken notice of them before. They are the little blue and red ones.|
|There is not going to be much to look at in the UK, Ive seen it all before, nothing new there.||Route 51 from Colchester to Harwich of 21 miles especially around Wivenhoe is beautiful.|
|I am carrying far too many chocolate like snacks in the handle bar bag and they will last me days||All snacks consumed by first day nightfall. Carry as many snacks as my handle bar bag will hold|
|My bike never has problems, Im never going to need half my tools.||It had to happen. Allen key was required as my handle bar started to jiggle.|
The final number to quote is 99.6 miles. This is exactly the day 1 distance covered. Fortunately being able to round up, I am now able to claim a 100 mile cycle in a day which although painful was a joy.