And so it starts in ernest…..

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April 10, 2016 by shortbloke

We’re now about 4 months away from the biggest ride of most of our lives so far (TB has already done it once). The Marmotte is looming.

The scale of the challenge is slowly starting to sink in. Training is correspondingly getting ever so slightly more serious. Now the sun has started making its self known pretty early in the day, the Blokes have started creeping out of the house ever longer before the rest of their housemates begin to stir.

This morning the rendez-view was 7:30am at Short Bloke HQ. We chose that start point because it makes sense for the route we take out into the Hertfordshire Hills. It absolutely does. The fact that I need the extra 20 minutes to get ready is completely and utterly incidental. And anyway, I provide the best warming (and warmed) whiskey shots in the country. Maybe even the world.

At 7:30am it was 4 degrees, clear blue and the streets were bathed in glorious sunshine. By 9:00am it was to be 8 degrees. By 10:00am over 10 degrees. Positively balmy. Warm enough for shorts, mits and short sleeves. At last.

So there we were, waiting for one last rider to turn up, idly considering how to get a newly acquired CCTV set up, when suddenly a motorised vehicle screeches to a halt at the kerb. And who should emerge, already suited and booted ? Non other than the tardy TNB. He was so late he actually drove to the start point. Lost shoes were blamed.

In all the years we’ve been riding, that has never happened before. That’s a first. Definitely worth marking with a short blog post.

Already tarnished with a late start, the ride itself was burdened with a couple of further irritating misfortunes. Basically, two flats later, TB is need of two new tyres.  One repair was effected outside a house occupied by a rather fit looking guy trimming his hedges. Given that seemingly every British male over the age of 40 with a reasonable level of fitness is a cyclist these days (the big give away with this guy was the Velominati T-Shirt) he spotted our dilemma and very kindly offered a spare tyre from his apparently ample collection. TB declined in favour of the quick fix Boot (why it’s called a Boot I have no idea – it’s a flat piece of plastic used to seal a split tyre). With the split tyre effectively patched, we were off again.

Extremely irritatingly my Garmin lost charge at about 50km (it lost charge all on its own, it wasn’t my fault for not checking it was charged of course). TB recorded 112km.  A decent ride on the usual Buntingford loop.

I need more of that if I am going to have anywhere near a successful Marmotte experience. Much more. The rest of the Blokes are way ahead of me. But it’s a start.

But this is about more than just training.

It’s about clear blue skies. 10 degrees of dry, fresh, clean air blowing across my face. It’s about rolling over miles of well maintained tarmac with very few cars, bordered by lovingly cared for hedges and rose bushes. It’s about the satisfaction of climbing a long drag through acres of green fields into a chocolate box village filled with thatched cottages where crumpled gentlemen in brown jumpers and corduroy trousers walk their aged dogs to corner shop to buy the Sunday papers.

These, my dear readers, are more than the experiences of a training ride. They are reminders of how great it is to be alive.

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