It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that this blog has been somewhat lacking in details recently when it comes to news of preparation, training and general state of readiness. That’s largely down to the last week being characterised by a general lack of preparation, training and general readiness for the challenge ahead.
The bike started to let me know that the training miles were taking a toll and, not unexpectedly, it was time for a new chain and rear cassette. So rather than get in a last couple of training rides I simply rode it to On Your Bike at London Bridge who were the rallying point for bike transport to France in any event. I put the bike in for a service and in the end elected to just leave it with them for the journey to France rather than pick it up and have to drop it back again by the weekend. So long story short I haven’t seen it since last Wednesday … over a week ago! I haven’t been a week without turning the legs over for a very long time and I have to say it feels very odd and is generally quite unsettling! In the end I had to take the dogs for a spin on the mountain bike but it wasn’t really the same and it was hard to break into a sweat or get the legs to register the effort. So without my usual fix of endorphins I fear I have become somewhat irritable as my body starts to champ at the bit while my mind tries to scare me that fitness is leaking out of every pore as I sit around doing nothing. I could have gone for a run of course …. but it doesn’t really hold much appeal for me and if I’m honest I was so terrified of doing something stupid like twisting an ankle or a knee just before the off that I thought it best to play it safe on the sofa with a packet of biscuits instead.
But finally, this morning, the day had arrived. Well, it had almost arrived. But it was definitely time to go to France so I think that counts as the start of the challenge. So after the countless kilometres of training, the new bike, the blog, the sponsorship … you’d have to be some sort of idiot to miss the train to France when you’d booked non flexible/ refundable tickets wouldn’t you? I mean, you’d be up extra early and get to the station with plenty of time to spare and get a coffee and a paper for the journey and then probably be the first on the carriage to get your seat right? Yeah…
As it happens, I’m not quite that big a muppet and I am writing this from seat 52, coach 14 as planned. But it is a rather fine margin that separates me from red faced ignominy at this point. I reckoned I had about half an hour in hand when I walked out of the door but I think business travel on Eurostar has perhaps spoiled me somewhat. I mean, when did St. Pancreas become like Heathrow Terminal 3 on an August bank holiday?! Crowds everywhere, queues everywhere, airport style baggage checks …. none of this was really what I had expected. Fortunately (for me) I find that if you’re going to be late for a flight/ train then it’s best to be properly late. And so it was that with just 10 minutes to navigate the crowds and check in I found myself being ushered by very helpful staff straight to the front of every queue and I was on the train with 5 minutes to spare. Obviously it was never in doubt!!