Three days. Numerous grazes. And ridiculous amounts of chocolate and sweets.
Day One – Sponsored by Dennis the Menace
Having not seen the ill-fated Trisockyle since our little altercation some five days previously, Tuesday (September 7th) morning was filled with a mix of apprehension and excitement, with a good dollop of realism thrown in. A small, but committed, band of well wishers had gathered at The Sock Mine, to see us off on our merry way, and as if we needed reminding, not to fall off under a bus. It was hardly the crowd that greeted the homecoming Rugby World Cup winners, but hey, the people who mattered were there.
Rush hour traffic in Sutton in Ashfield (if there is such a thing) greeted our first few tentative metres, and things were going well for the first mile, we’d not got lost, we’d not fell out, and we’d not fell off. However, what did fall off was one of the chains, oh great only 164 miles to go.
Fear not, chief mechanic, support vehicle, white van man and part time lion tamer Tim, pulled on his super hero uniform of rigger boots and a high vis jacket, and came into his own. He broke out a tool box that McLaren F1 mechanics would have been jealous of, and we were on our way before I could rip the top off the packet of Haribo’s.
A further mile down the road, frustratingly Tim had pulled us over, he wasn’t entirely happy with the tyre pressures (and probably the track temperature and atmospheric conditions), and minor adjustments were made, but at least it was an opportunity for a Mars bar. How he could tell these things, sat in a van, listening to Radio 2 whist keeping the Roy Lowe Empire running, God only knows.
Right that’s it, no more stops until ….. erm…. London? Or more like until Tim tells us, which he did about 15 miles down the road to let us know our recently purchased body armour would be with us anytime. This was nothing to do with protection if we fell off again, but the fact we had to cycle through Leicestershire later on. Double chocolate muffin anyone?
It wasn’t long before we’d got used to the regular odd looks from many a passer-by, although I’m still not sure if it was the bike, or Martin in lycra they were laughing at. We’d quickly ticked off Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and the overcast conditions had been replaced by glorious sunshine.
Leicestershire, which felt increasingly more uphill than anything previous, bought our first incident. Thankfully this time, it didn’t involve us. Whilst circumnavigating the country lanes around Kegworth, a police roadblock greeted us, time for the wine gums. A couple of boy racers had come second in a little accident with a transit van coming the other way. There were neon lights, oversized exhausts, pointless rear spoilers and chav attitudes as far as the eye could see. Having talked the police into eventually letting us past, we tried our luck to see if one of them would give some charity bikers a police escort. Surprisingly, one seemed pretty interested, until he found out where we were going.
More constant uphill sections (and Dean’s driving) were the only things to moan about, until lunch just south of Fosse Park – right who’s paying?
After an extended break, the legs took a bit of turning, as even more uphill sections and rain had to be contended with, until we got to Lutterworth and a coffee and Chupa Chup lolly stop at the George Clothing offices.
Back in the saddle for the final 12 (uphill) miles, then the now seemingly well behaved Trisockyle can retire for the evening, and we can crack open the celebratory midget gems.
Day Two – Sponsored by Wallace & Gromit
Early morning, Northamptonshire mist and fog greeted our very weary awakening. Whilst a full English was taken onboard (and cola bottles), Tim had treated the Trisockyle (and van) to a full service and refurb, then we were on our way again.
Having thought Leicestershire was uphill, that was snooker table flat, compared to the route we took through Northamptonshire, but at least we’d struggle to get lost, it was the A5 all the way, for mile after mile, after mile...
The quaint town of Towcester had a sneaky little Costa Coffee tucked away on the main street, pit stop time. After having made the place look untidy, a perusal of 'the menu' presented many a southern poncy type beverage, Mocha choca skinny latte cinnamon cappuchino anyone? “Not for me love, any chance of three normal coffee’s a builder's tea, and a couple of those all butter cookies?”
The rest of the day was littered with, Twix’s and KitKat’s and apart from the ceremonious unveiling of a Wham bar, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful until lunch in Dunstable, where Tim found out he had to foot the bill.
Although it had become more noticeable the further south we travelled, crossing into Hertfordshire, offered the biggest indication of the difference of the North/South divide. Gone many miles ago was the friendly Northern charm, to be replaced with Southern impatience. So, with that, along with us being knack... very tired, it starting to rain, someone putting St. Albans on the top of a big hill some miles earlier, and falling out with the local drivers, we decided to call it a day some 12 miles or so from our final destination, and tuck into the chocolate rice crispy cakes.
Day Three – Sponsored by Popeye
Although only having a relative short stint to do, we thought the central London traffic would pose more of a challenge rather than the distance. What we hadn’t accounted for was the traffic travelling at around the same speed as us, making manoeuvring in and out a little easier than when cars and lorries are whistling past some 70 or 80 mph faster than you.
The sun welcomed our arrival outside the M&S head office much to the delight of our buyers, then it was onto Mackay’s head office, before our arrival at Lancaster London Hotel around lunchtime, to be greeted with a large pot of Sudocrem sponsored by VMC.
Finally we could relax, go back to bed for the afternoon knowing that yet another of our stupid drunken idea’s had not only come to fruition, but we’d seen it through to the end, all in aid of our industry charity, The Light Fund.
After some arm twisting, and top level negotiations during the excellent evening’s festivities, I’m glad to say that once we’ve rounded up the stragglers, we’ll have hopefully raised just short of £3,500 for The Light Fund with our little escapade, but as always it’s never too late to add to that total. All in all, a job well done.