So what was I doing up at 5 am on a Sunday morning, eating a large bowl of porridge? Simple. Getting ready to leave for the London to Southend bike ride. As I live near Southend I had to get the train to London and then cycle back again.
The London to Southend is my favourite ride of the year and this is the third year I have ridden it. The ride is organised by the British Heart Foundation, a charity that is important to me as I underwent an angioplasty six years ago.
Getting out of Stratford Station and making my way to Victoria Park seemed to take forever due to the usual crowds of bikes. Still, the weather was nice and sunny (hi Alex). From the look of the roads there had been some heavy downpours along the route but luckily I missed them and didn’t get as I had feared I would.
There seemed to be a lot more people taking part this year and the roads out of London were a lot busier than usual. It would also have been a lot easier and less risky if people taking parts in events take some lessons about how to ride in group or at least think about what they are doing. I lost count of the number of times someone cut in front of me or overtook on the inside as I as pulling in. Never mind though as I got to the end without incident.
Still, there is nothing like the excitement of starting off in a ride like this, knowing there is around 55 miles in front of you before you get home. The route wound through the backstreets of Hackney and Leytonstone, before leaving the city behind and winding up the long, steep hill of Chigwell Row. The bonus though is that there is a long straight downhill too! The uphill is what looks like a mountain range at around seven miles in.
But once that is over, it is out into the country lanes of Essex. And time to play spot the bank robber’s house as we ride through Chigwell and beyond (only joking).
The rest of the ride was a lot of fun, cycling mainly through leafy lanes. The training I had been put in paid off too. There was though one hill climb near the end where my thigh muscle cramped and I couldn’t bend my leg. But after a couple of minutes rest all was fine again.
The wind was blowing fairly strongly for the last few miles too. But that did nothing to dampen the flood of emotion as I crossed the finish line 52 miles and 3 hours and 40 minutes later; a 10 minute improvement on last year.
This appeared on snopes.com with the question "is is true?".
Sadly, and disgracfully it is. It shows a motorist plowing into a group of bicyclists has has aspect of cartoonish violence to it that has led many viewers to question whether it might have been faked or staged (possibly for a film shoot). However, the accident depicted in this picture was, unfortunately, all too real.
The incident shown here took place on 1 June 2008 during a 34-kilometer bicycle race along a highway running between the Mexican towns of Playa Bagdad and Matamoros. According to police, a 28-year-old motorist, apparently under the influence of alcohol, fell asleep at wheel of his Grand Marquis and plowed into a group of twenty cyclists who were participating in the race, throwing several of them high into the air as pictured above. The collision killed one of the cyclists, Alejandro Alvarez, and injured ten others. The moment of impact was captured by photographer Jose Fidelino Vera Hernandez.
This is my 13 mile training circuit which I ride in reverse as a figure of 8 to extend it to 26 miles. This equals out any hills and headwinds. It is the same route as the Southend Bikeathon in recent years.
Click on the map title for a full screen version
It’s a risky business being a cyclist in the UK, there are a lot of people who really dislike us. It’s the Jeremy Clarkson influence – we’re hated on the roads. We just hope people realise we are just flesh and bones on two wheels.” Victoria Pendleton, gold medal winner in the women’s sprint at the Beijing Olympics, 2008.
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle, Scientific American, 1896
“Riding a bike is everything to a cyclist. The friendship and camaraderie you have with other cyclists …to a cyclist, it was the be-all and end-all of your life.” Tommy Godwin, double bronze medal winner in the 1,000m time trial and the team pursuit in the 1948 Olympics in London.
“There is something about the miscreant cyclist that seems to get people more exercised than they are about the misbehaving motorist…When people get into cars, their metal encasement turns them into robots in our minds, and we’re grateful to them for any act of courtesy. We’re grateful that they don’t deliberately kill children, then laugh a rasping, metallic laugh…[Cyclists] are more civic-minded than anyone else travelling in any other manner, bar by foot. If they do run into someone, they at least (like the bee) do their victim the favour of hurting themselves in the process, which is why, if you had any sense, you’d save your hatred for the motorist, who (like the wasp) injures without care.” Zoe Williams, The Guardian, 4th February 2006
Felt is an American bicycle manufacturer based in Irvine, California. Felt specializes in high-end bicycles at low prices. In the early 1990s the company was founded by Jim Felt. Felt have managed to keep prices low by having no formal advertising campaign, choosing to let brand recognition come from word-of-mouth. Felt has gone from strength-to-strength, going from just six bike models in the USA to over 140 bike models, sold across 27 countries. Felt have created a niche group of highly skilled and dedicated people who work together to create bicycles that consistently exceed their riders’ expectations by providing a sense of individuality, inspiration and pride in ownership. Felt are not governed by their competitors’ measurements of success - the desire to push beyond the limits of technology never allows Felt to rest on their laurels. As their universal mission statement suggests, Felt’s reason for existing is “To design, develop, and deliver the best bicycles in the world. Period.”
FELT Z70 Specification
Frame FELT Relaxed Racing Specific Geometry Felt F-Lite Butted 7005 Aluminium with Smooth Welding, Forged Dropout and Replaceable Hanger.
Fork Carbon Design with 3K Carbon Fibre Blades, 1-1/8" ALLOY Steerer and Alloy Crown (20%)
Headset FSA 1-1/8" Integrated with 20mm Cone and 4X5mm Washer Stack
Stem FELT 2.1 Adjustable 6061 3D Forged with +/-8-16 Degree Rise, 51cm=80mm, 54cm=90mm, 56cm=100mm, 58cm-61cm=110mm.