Ride Report – The Friday Night Ride to the Smoke

The following sentence may be the definitive proof that I am, actually, insane:

Riding my bike in the middle of the night may be the best form of cycling, ever.

But seriously, it’s true. After my first ever “big night ride” on the FNRttC to Southend, I hadn’t done that much riding in the dark and no group riding at all. But I had been upping my mileage through July and August and so when the opportunity arose a few weeks ago to join a similar ride with some YACF forumites, I decided it would be a great test of my legs.

The concept was simple. We were to leave Oxford on Friday night at midnight under a new moon, admire the stars as we got into the countryside, pedal through til dawn, and arrive in London just in time for breakfast. The only problem I could foresee was my perennial nemesis – hills – because the route looked like this:

 

Look at those bloody lumps! Including my first ever “category 4” climb according to MapMyRide, which scared me a bit. But still, I didn’t want to back away from a challenge, so off I went.

The climbs almost killed me. I was, in all honesty, terrible and after winching myself up the first climb and most of the second using the lowest gear on my triple chainset, my knees had given up and I had to resort to cheating walking up the rest of the climbs. With the exception of the climbs, the ride was fantastic – fantastic company, warm and dry weather, under an sometimes cloudless sky, and often on smooth, fast tarmac. The local entertainment was also excellent, the highlight being a 5am drunk near Uxbridge who, with a considerable number of expletives, struggled to get his booze-pickled head around the concept of a recumbent bike and proclaimed it to be “fucking amazing, man” while we had a rest in a bus shelter.

At over 60 miles (almost exactly 100km) it was also my longest ride to date, and although I was mostly able to hang on to the bunch on the flat bits I was beginning to get dropped as we were getting into West London. I was incredibly glad to arrive in Acton at about 6:30am and get off the bike! While everyone else fuelled their hunger with greasy fried breakfasts, my appetite had vanished so I just emptied out the cafe’s supply of Diet Coke and bottled water. After that it was simply a case of the quick (and indeed, quicker than I would have liked!) blast up to Paddington, scalping a Boris Biking, RLJ’ing twat on the way, and a long train back to Swindon.

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