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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:34 pm 
Pumpy's Bear
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Location: Hereford
Wednesday 26th December 2012

The last half dozen years have seen a Boxing Day ride up the local woods and, Festive 500 or not, this year was going to be no different. Two years ago we faced thick snow and -15C; I rode little but enjoyed a few happy hours pushing my snow clogged cross bike. Last year was wet and muddy; I rode little but enjoyed a few happy hours pushing my mud clogged cross bike. The heavy rain in the last few weeks was going to lead to very muddy conditions under foot and, as I selected the cross bike again, I wondered what was going to happen this year. To paraphrase Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard 2’ (incidentally the greatest Christmas movie ever) “different year, same shit”.

The sight of 15 people on a rag tag selection of bikes, some clad in onesies, must have been something to behold. Where the trails weren’t covered in thick, clinging mud, there was an evil crisscross of slippery wet roots across the singletrack like a snake’s wedding. Obviously I regularly made good on my feet – what is the point of a bike that you can carry if you don’t carry it at every opportunity? – and, once, plunged headlong through the brambles in a vainglorious attempt to gain some traction (tip: brambles can get very good traction on bare skin). After sessioning a sweet fireroad climb, we stopped for some festive snacks and the hipflasks of Pernod were passed around – for those wondering I can confirm that jelly babies and Pernod are a heady mix. Setting off again I felt well within the zone until I opted for a ‘creative’ line and ended up hub deep in a puddle. The fun was up, time to head for family commitments and tot up my mileage.

I’ve never been good at gauging distance covered offroad but, full of seasonal cheer, I decided that I’d ridden for two hours at 5 miles/hour. I then rounded this up to 15km (yet again with the marginal gains). This wasn’t going to do at all so I elected to ride to the pub and home, another generous 10 miles which, lavishly, became 15km. Not a bad total for a wet Boxing Day but still well, well short of hwta I needed. I needed to start showing some f***ing commitment.

Distance covered – 30km
Distance remaining – 370km


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:24 pm 
Pumpy's Bear
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Location: Hereford
Thursday 27th December 2012

Waking early I knew that this was the make or break day – get a decent amount knocked off the total or slink away, defeated. Like listening to Craig David, the sound of rain on the window was not music to my ears even if it was slightly less irritating. Still, a challenge would not be a challenge if it wasn’t challenging so, with a heavy heart, I levered myself out of bed, packed my bag for work and ventured outside.

To be honest, it wasn’t that bad – the rain was steady but the air temperature wasn’t bad. Switching my lights on, it was time to be a man rather than a mouse – if I was going into the dawn then it might as well be up some decent hills on quiet roads. As I set off this seemed a noble sentiment but halfway up the climb to Checkley, noisily breathing out of my arse with my Christmas belly hanging both sides of the top tube like a fleshy saddlebag, I was mentally cursing myself (if I had cursed out loud then I think I may have vomited). Finally reaching the top I stopped to see the view (AKA wait for the pounding of blood in my ears to drop to levels that didn’t potentially trouble my balance).

As equilibrium settled, this was really quite good. I was up early, pleasantly warm and definitely, vibratingly, alive. A bit of music was called for to celebrate the dawn and the beauty of existence. Fumbling through my iPod I settled upon the ideal track – ‘Hurt’, the Johnny Cash version (opening lines “I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel, I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real”). Emotionally fortified, I headed down the hill, the canopy of trees giving a gloomy air and a surface that was as slick with moss as it was rutted. Still, I knew the road well, my lights were strong and I could comfortably stay the right side of the ragged edge. Except, coming to the gentle right hander at the bottom, I couldn’t. Running out of talent at an alarming rate (if you have so little, surely it should last a bit longer?), I grabbed at the right hand brake lever, hard. As soon as I did this, I had a flashing thought –I set the bike up goofy style in my attempt to be all Euro (the loafers sans socks and apricot pullover across the shoulders were never enough), right? As the brake bit, thankfully I had although that didn’t stop me skidding on the road. Arse twitching like a bunnies nose, I came far too close to the bramble hedge (bonus was that I was left with a rather dashing duelling scar on the left cheek. Of my face) but stayed upright and on the road.

I thought that I was awake before but with the adrenalin/Red Bull (I mentioned that I’d had some before I left home, didn’t I?) coursing through my veins, it felt fabulous to be alive. I made it down to Woolhope without further drama and started on the climb to Marcle Ridge. This is much steeper but also shorter than Checkley but, warm by now as well as scared, I made it up with surprising ease (i.e. only felt like passing out twice) only to be confronted by the ‘engaging’ descent – why hadn’t I taken a flatter, alternative route to work? Still, there were only two other options – descend the way I had come (no chance as it’s plenty ‘engaging’ itself) or head further (no chance but for a different reason) – neither of which appealed. Girding up what was left of my loins, I plunged downward. I’ve had many moments on a bicycle that I am not proud of. This one definitely made the top 5, possibly top 4 (for those who want to know, I ended up both feet unclipped, straddling the top tube in a farm entrance when I misjudged a turn/lost my nerve. Although my brakes were next to useless, the impact of my penis on the top tube arrested the forward motion to a quite surprising degree – worth knowing in case you ever find yourself in a similar predicament).

After so much excitement in the first 5 miles (note to self – round up to 10km), the remainder of the journey was fairly uneventful and I arrived at work just over two hours after I left home. Distance covered? No real idea but 15mph sounded reasonable(ish) so I had no problem in declaring it a 48km (ok, call it 50km) ride.

The just over an hour ride home was dull but flat and, for me, swiftish – go on, we’ll call that 17 miles or 30 km.

Suddenly, inroads to the total had been made – with more than half the time elapsed I’d completed well under half the distance but there was a chance. As far as I was concerned, shit just got real.

Distance covered – 80km
Distance remaining – 290km


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:26 pm 
Special Retro Guru
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Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 11:34 am
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Location: Don't mess with monkeys, man
This is truly inspiring reading.

Kudos, man.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:31 pm 
Pumpy's Bear
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Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 10:03 pm
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Location: Hereford
Friday 28th December 2012

Yesterday was good. Today wasn’t as I seem to have picked up the Little Boss’ virus as first thing I a slight sore throat and feel a bit shivery. An obvious conclusion was that this was the effect of continuing Christmas beverage overindulgence but I’d not had a drop the night before (ok, apart from the pair of pints before my ride home the previous night – perhaps that explained my brisk progress?). But was that the reason for looking California but feeling Minnesota - had I messed with the delicate chemical balance of my elite athlete’s body? Wanting to leave nothing to chance, I pledged to drink like a sailor on shore leave until the damn 500 was knocked off, kitted up and headed into work.

Under the weather or not, I simply did not have it – legs wooden, shoulders slumped. I rapidly knocked the idea of repeating the ride from yesterday morning on the head, opting for a similar length but flat route. Then I knocked that on the head and short cutted into Hereford, a pathetic effort of barely an hour – I was so chastened that I decided to only claim 20km. Which put me at 270km to go and only 3 and a bit days to complete, a day and a half of which I was working.

Demoralised and disillusioned I did the only thing that a man in my position could do – I repaired to the pub for lunch. Fortified by the combination of steaming broth, a roaring fire and a beautiful barmaid (empirically beautiful I might add, as that was my view even without the healing benefits of a pint), I returned to work in a much more chipper state. And promptly bought a bike that I don’t need with money I don’t have and not an inch of storage space.

Even though I was feeling foolish (but a little excited) about the bike buying daftness, I couldn’t bring myself to ride any more than 20km home though, a paltry total for the day. The possibility of meeting the 500km total was receding at a similar rate as my chances of getting consecutive dates with Eva Green and Olga Kurylenko (I’d have gone for a Craig-era Bond Girl Threepeat except that there wasn’t a Bond Girl as such in ‘Skyfall’), although in fairness both aforementioned ladies were making it very difficult for themselves if they thought they were getting any of the Edwards magic.

Still, Gareth from the forum visited for the evening and plenty of red wine and Leffe was drunk as we put the world to rights and talked about old bikes, often simultaneously. With only three days to go however, the Festive 500 was looking dead in the water.

Distance covered – 40km
Distance remaining – 250km


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:53 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:30 pm
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Location: nuneaton warks
whats the new bike ed ?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:53 pm 
West Midlands AEC
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Location: Stow on the Wold, Glos
Fancy trying to knock an EASY 100k tomorrow Ed?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:05 pm 
Pumpy's Bear
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Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 10:03 pm
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Location: Hereford
matthew71 wrote:
whats the new bike ed ?


I'd best let it arrive before revealing all but safe to say it'll be like when Dylan went electric.


daj wrote:
Fancy trying to knock an EASY 100k tomorrow Ed?


Just getting the energy to write up today but yes, definitely.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:19 am 
Pumpy's Bear
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Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 10:03 pm
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Location: Hereford
Saturday 29th December 2012

This was it, make or break day. It appeared the previous evenings socialising had a restorative effect on my spirits and malaise had disappeared (I suspect it was really lack of mental fortitude). A hearty breakfast of local sausage, bacon and eggs with a side order of more bike blather with Gareth meant that by late morning I was raring to go. Ok, not raring exactly as, although the overnight heavy rain had eased to a persistent drizzle, more downpours were forecast. Still, I had watched ‘Perfect Sense’ on Thursday evening (plot summary – apocalyptic tale aptly set in Glasgow that was pretty far-fetched but did feature a considerable amount of Eva Green – her again – wearing little but a crooked smile. And, for that alone, the film is heartily recommended) so my senses were prepared for anything.

Although it was near to midday and I needed to make good use of the dim light, I decided that I needed to offer no excuse for failure so, clasping procrastination to myself like a coward’s cloak, I proceeded to clean the gritty chain on my golden Gazelle. After a pleasingly short time, the chain was oiled and silent and I turned to my own preparation, le metier if you will. Retrobike kit seemed apt so I branded up as fully as I could – short sleeved jersey, armwarmers, bibshorts and socks with the off message addition of kneewarmers and a Rapha rain jacket (I know, I know but it is jolly nice plus it was over 50% which admittedly still made it damned expensive. But I’m worth it). Ratcheting up the Sidis, flipping up the peak on my jaunty cap and stuffing my pockets with jelly babies and wasabi peas (not together you understand, that would be sick), I was ready. Bloody ready. Then I coughed and, as a result, almost wept (if you watch ‘Perfect Sense’ this will make, well, perfect sense). Reassuring myself that I was merely trying to ensure that my branchial passages were clear before I left, I left. Into almost immediate heavy rain. I was never more glad of the Gazelle’s mudguards but also of the unseasonably mild weather.

I have felt better on a bike. I’ve also felt worse and, fortified by the recent images of the fair Eva’s ample bosom, I rode. It was not pretty, in fact I suspect it was downright ugly, but I managed to stay out for just over four and a half hours, returning home just as lights were needed. By feel, I reckon I averaged a very modest 14mph which would give 101km but, under the circumstances, I felt that it had to be worth 110km. Some may consider this cheating, others merely an understandable extension of the mathematical latitude that I have displayed so far. Whatever. It’s my account and I say it’s an even 110km, ok?

Distance covered – 110km
Distance remaining – 140km


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:55 am 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:45 pm
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Location: Birmingham
Will this have a Hollywood ending Ed, where in the closing miles you suffer some serious mishap , but throngs of people line the route to watch you crawl, stagger limp across the finish on a bike borrowed from a one legged orphan you have cured of cancer, to be then greeted by a very emotional partner screaming "i love you Ed, you can do it Ed, for the love of God Ed"?

or a nice British ending where the same serious mishap goes unnoticed , there is no crowd of people , the one legged orphan then attacks you with his crutches and steals your bike and you are forced to accept defeat, crying in a layby somewhere miles from home?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:53 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:04 pm
Posts: 439
Location: Somerset
Inspirational stuff!

Can't say I'm in any sort of condition to do 250kms in 9 days let alone double that!!!

Really hope you reach your goal, keep us all updated!

YOU CAN DO IT!!!


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