The aim is to cycle 880 miles in 15 days...that's a dalily average of 58.5 miles. The bike will be loaded with an extra 16 kilos of camping gear and kit.
On the back of my Christmas cheesefest there is now considerably more Dave McKeown around than there ever has been, and this is not necessarily a good thing. I've started my New Year Resolution on Boxing Day in time honoured fashion....I've bought a very cheap exercise bike on eBay. I also have my new road bike, only the roads in Devon are like Himalayan streams at the moment. First time out, a Volvo driver followed me for half a mile on a single track lane, honking the horn, two yards behind, and I ended up in a hedge with a mouthful of hawthorn. The Volvo drove off of course. It can only be up from here.
The weather is dreadful. There's a lot of water out there...and we're moving house. Still, I'm managing to spend an hour on the exercise bike every night. I have Big Brother to keep me company...if only Channel Four could persuade Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty to spend the next sixth months banged up together I could get really fit. You feel a bit of a dork on the exercise bike watching TV, but Sue has been very understanding...she has hardly taken the micky at all....honest!
Well, the weight is beginning to shift and I'm starting to feel less of a blob. Still on the exercise bike, but on the toughest setting, and missing Big Brother. It still feels like the West of Ireland weatherwise. The lanes are now like Himalyan mudslides. There has been one decent weekend when we managed a couple of trips to Honiton...about 30 miles on consecutive days. It felt fine but I suffered a bit afterwards.
Ah....the weather is beginning to improve and I'm having to buy belts for my trousers. Lighter evenings mean I can cycle after school as well. I went up to London to meet my week old niece, Catherine. Most London cyclists would give their right crank-arm for a weekend in the country, but I really had a ball whizzing in and out of traffic jams and racing buses....and London's so flat! The West End at night was the best bit. I don't know how long I could reasonably hope to survive cycling in London though. I now have all the lycra gear and when I see a serious cyclist coming in the distance I speed up, pedal fast and try to look like I've just cycled from Italy.
We've had a glorious Easter break with summer temperatures every day. I've been putting on the miles, but it's not all good news. A couple of hilly 40 mile trips on consecutive days were fine but I woke up at three in the morning with a very painful back. It might be cycling, it might be digging the garden, I'm not sure. If it's the former, I suppose I could always drop the bike thing and dig myself from Land's End to John o'Groats. That would get me in the Guinness Book of Useless Acheivements. My bike-mad friend Mike has helped me with a few adjustments to saddle height and angle and hopefully this will alleviate matters. I've resumed gentle riding, with SPD pedals for the first time. What a difference! I was converted within three minutes.
No recurrence of the back problem, though with a busy month at work, not quite enough cycling either. I reckoned a good training run over bank holiday weekend would be from Devon to London with a fully loaded bike. What I didn't plan was the brisk North Easterly headwind and two days of absolutely incessant rain. The kit came through with full honours...the panniers were 100% waterproof...my tent and bivy bag kept me dry...my clothes dried out after 4 hours in Burger King...my legs didn't fall off and my backside survived unscathed. I'll be very unlucky if I experience worse weather on the real ride, which I suppose was the whole point of the exercise.