Wiggle New Forest 2018

‘I have a better one’ I exclaimed upon finding a weather forecast only predicting light rain at one o’clock.

Paul was sticking with his BBC prediction of 90% rain at noon.

It was a chilly morning … yet we were all dressed in anticipation of the heatwave next week. Sense prevailed a little bit as Paul and Rob decided to wear jackets … just in case!

We set off to the wiggle recorded ‘Have fun’ instruction which upset Paul no end. ‘Why can’t she sound more sincere’ he complained which set us all off trying to sincerely say ‘have fun’. You are probably now attempting your own sincere ‘have fun’ in your head but as we are about to cycle 130k in the bone chilling cold … there is no way anyone is going to convince us this will be fun!

The start was good and we all settled into a nice warm up pace. We had been set off in waves of just 20 cyclists every two minutes and this worked really well in the road for both cyclists and drivers.

It was only after a healthy 22 miles that disaster struck. As we went up a very gentle incline, my chain jumped alarmingly and for no apparent reason. I was in the right gear so presumed it hadn’t quite engaged, however, 10 seconds later it did the same again but this time jumped off altogether.

Paul and Rob came to inspect and found that my chain had jammed and snapped. My heart sank – Pink had just come back from Evans after a full service which included a new chain. Apparently, the guy at Evans had questioned whether I was a ‘fat bird’ as the chain had been stretched under a heavy load!!

Undeterred, the lads both set about removing a couple of the links so I could limp along to the mechanic at the next feed station. For the next few miles they decided to keep me sandwiched between them so they could keep an eye on me and my chain!

By the look on Paul’s face I think he was none too pleased to be bringing up the rear … although it’s quite a spectacular rear even if I do say so myself.

It was going quite well until we went up a little hill … I had a land rover pulling a trailer trying to kiss my back wheel and my chain was jumping all over the place until eventually it jammed, mid rotation, half way up a hill and with both my feet level so I was unable to unclip. The thought of peeling my face of the tarmac for a second time this year didn’t appeal so I made one final attempt to push forward and unclip … which did work but at the expense of the chain which snapped yet again.

Wiggle are fantastic … they said a mechanic was on his way. I described my location next to the church and the wiggle girl said I was just around the corner from the feed station so I could walk it rather than wait in the cold. It was until 30 minutes later that I realised that I had been speaking to the very same wiggle girl that had told us to ‘have a nice day’.

Fab idea … I started off walking but as I saw a long straight ahead I realised that round the corner must be similar to the South African ‘just now’ that rob uses all the time … meaning anytime within the next 24hrs!!!!!

I decided to pretend I was doing a duathlon so took my cycle shoes off and started to run. About 2 miles later I spotted the feed station and the lads. Paul was cheerfully scoffing flapjack whilst Rob was squeezing his buckwheat pre-mix from the ziplock bag.

Rob is following the Paddison Program for his Rheumatoid Arthritis and it seems to be working … after all – he is managing to cycle without pain for the first time in years. The program is really worth checking out www.paddisonprogramme.com

Darren, the bike mechanic from Velo Care www.velo-care.com replaced my chain and set us on our merry way … just as the heavens opened.

We had about 39 miles to go and by now we are all cold, wet and miserable and all the wiggle cyclists had that look of resigned determination on their faces … apart from Paul who had the ‘why the hell did I agree to this’ and Rob who had the ‘right back at you’ look.

Now, I’ve only been cycling for a few years but thought I’d heard most of the exclamations called out by riders …

‘Car’ ‘Gravel’ ‘Clear’ ‘STOP’ and so on but it was the first time I’d heard people shriek ‘DONKEYS’. The new forest has plenty of wild ponies, cattle and donkeys just wandering aimlessly across the road.

We were about 15miles from home when we came to the BIG HILL. It beat me last year and I had to walk the last 10m but this year I had my game plan.

I took it easy until the last 50m and then closed my eyes and cycled till I was fit to burst. My legs were screaming so loudly I’m sure everyone around me could hear. And as for my lungs, well they had handed their notice in half way up the hill. At the 3/4 way mark they had totally quit and now they were simply trying to figure out how to get out of my body and find a new and more considerate owner!

As we cruised the last 10 miles home the sun threatened to break through putting a smile back on everyone’s weary faces. It was a lovely easy ride to the finish and i was so pleased that we had all completed the course that I treated Paul to some malt loaf with butter and rob to some egg flavoured spinach leaves (Thanks Clint Paddison).

Cant wait till our next epic cycle!


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