Standing on the side of the road with my bike upside down and without a front wheel wasn’t the glorious image of crossing the finish line I was having only 42 minutes ago as I lined up alongside our Macriders in Blythe Valley Park.
But what a 42 minutes it was!
Cycling alongside my best friend Jon, we were making good ground and had quickly identified a strong group of half a dozen cyclists. We were firmly latched onto their slip-stream and our only concern was whether our ‘team-mates’ had signed up for the 100 mile distance or if we’d have to find a new group of riders to piggyback onto for the remaining distance.
It was a case of thinking too far ahead, specifically 94 miles too far ahead.
The bike has had a few recurring problems with the front brake in the few weeks leading up to the race that neither myself or the bike mechanics were able to fix.
Instead we decided to tighten the rear brake as much as possible and I planned stopping distances similar to a high-speed train for each corner and set of traffic lights.
All was well until I approached a t-junction and my front brake decided to switch from not working at all to completely locking up.
Jon was unwilling to sacrifice his own bike and be Domestique for the day so I whipped off the front wheel, pretended to know what I was doing and tightened this, while loosening that, only to find the brake pads had clamped and I was no longer able to slide the wheel back onto the frame.
After lots of apologies to Jon he cycled back to Blythe to pick up his car (fittingly a white Skoda – very Tour de France).
What’s worse than the retirement was that the only chance to speak with the other participants was as they passed and checked if myself and the bike were ok.
Thanks to everyone who offered their support, and there were a lot of you, and other than the damage to my pride it was nothing more than a technical hiccup.
We’ve all had lovers-tiffs with our bikes, mine just picked a particularly bad time.
Reading the sub four hour times of several of the 100 mile cyclists this morning I’m almost glad I had a genuine excuse for finish last. It was fantastic to be a part of an event (even if it was only for 6 miles) which brought together so many people in support of Macmillan.
Next step; 18,000 miles around the world. First job; new brakes!