More like Southend-THROUGH-Sea!
In true bank holiday fashion, it's pissed down all weekend. Noah is out looking for wood as I type. I managed to get a few dry laps of Richmond Park in on Saturday before getting soggy and doing some damage to my back. I finally fitted the 135g Selle Italia SLR saddle that's been in the cupboard for 18 months and I'm guessing the position change and too much effort up the hills messed up the old spine.
Sunday was feckin' nasty weather and I was having serious doubts about riding. But, I'd also been hoping to ride this for a long time and finally stubborness won out over common sense (doesn't it always!). I was hoping no one else would show at Covent Garden Seven Dials but 7 other brave lads did and, given we were already soaked, the ride was on!
Mario led us out of the city, well a mile away before we had our first puncture. While fixing this a woman tail-end another car at an intersection. Top start!
We decided not to do the 70mi route and opted for the shorter, more direct one along the A13.
This was like a wet Maroondah Hwy and for me not so bad (self preser-what?) but I think the other guys didn't appreciate the high-speed traffic on wet roads. Around Dagenham DavidK froze a CO2 canister to his hand (ow!) repairing a puncture on this £7500 Serotta (yes, he could trade in his bike for the whole of Australia!) and we changed route to back roads (the A1306?).
Avoiding a pikey camp we found a path and made it onto an overpass for a group photo. We past a sign for 'Rainham' - how appropriate! Then again, we also rode along 'Dry Street' later in the ride and that wasn't a very accurate name at the time. Mareeoh suffered another puncture.
Owing to a total lack of food in my house I'd had a piece of toast and black coffee for breakfast. Owing to a lack of bottle mounts on my track bike I carried 500ml of liquid in my bag and half pack of Bassett's Animal Mix (think Natural Confectionary Company lollies). End result of this was running out of energy on a relatively small climb called Langdon? Hills. I could barely turn the pedals over and almost had to walk. Uh oh. Did make it to the top where I downed all my remaining drink and hoped for flat roads!
We had a couple more hills along the way but not as bad. On one downhill I managed to pass DavidK at 32mph trying to chase down Roberto. Attempting a skid while your legs are doing 160rpm isn't smart.. as I found out when I went all gumby at the bottom of the hill. Around here I think we had a minor collision between slamm and photoben. I'd already gone the wrong way so missed the carnage. I did find a blinky though and wasted a lot more energy getting it back to photoben! I think I was excited we were nearly there.
We grouped up at a set of lights almost at the coast and waited.. and waited.. photoben had punctured. Regrouping we had a great, grinning run down to the water-front.
Sweeeeeet!!! We made it!!! The esplanade was fenced off but the cops let us in and we rolled along its length, looking at the fairground atmosphere.
There was an airshow on. Jets zoomed by over-head, a chinook chopper did some sickening almost vertical flying and a sea-plane groaned past. Another group photo then somehow we locked 8 bikes with 3 small locks and ate fish and chips. Eventually rolling off we found the station and a nearby pub to enjoy a pint in. Nice. DavidK had someone to meet but the rest of us piled into a train carriage for a fun trip back to London Liverpool St.
Said 'adios' to all and rode back to Ealing, fscked. Ate and drank from about 6pm to 2am! Next time I'll definitely take more food and drink.
Big thanks to: DavidK, photoben, Roberto, mareeoh, brett, slamm, mdja? for a top ride!
Stats: 5hr total time, 3hr ride time, 75k (47mi) for Seven Dials to Southend, making my total for the day 105k fixed, in horrible conditions. Noice!
(Blog article originally posted here: http://thehippy.net/nucleus/index.php?itemid=863)