Blazing Saddles

This ride is a voyage of discovery. I’ve written separately about this reminding me of setting up and running a business and the last week or so has reinforced that view.

The last week or so has been great from a training perspective and I’ve done 5 great rides. through the wonderful Worcestershire countryside. On Thursday 21st I went over the Malvern’s heading for Ledbury and a café/deli that I found last year ( Well worth a visit – excellent tuna sandwich! We really are blessed with the choice of villages that I can ride through and the Colwall side of the Malvern’s never fails to disappoint (although the road down the hills is full of pot holes which you can do without when you are travelling a speeds of 30 mph plus).

In business, you really never stop learning and you can become complacent if you are not careful. You can take a short cut and it can work well and you quickly establish a new normality. You forget why things were done in a certain way. I had a harsh reminder on the 21st. After Ledbury I headed for one of my favourite cycling roads; a quiet lane that runs from Eastnor Castle towards Birtsmorton. Its a road called Clenchers Mill Lane and I was about to discover a modern theory as to why and how it came to be called that.

I’d had my lunch and was peddling happily along through the countryside. there were no cars at all. It was still and about 19 degrees (thankfully) and it was the first time that I’d been down the lane this year. Partway down there is a ford (a stream that runs over the road) which I’ve been through before on quite a few occasions. This time, something told me to slow down. I proceeded with some caution – say 8 to 10 mph. I cycled through the ford as I had done previously – everything then seemed to go into slow motion. As I got the the middle of the (stream/river/raging torrent) that was about 3 inches deep, I hit green slime that was like sheet ice. I felt the front wheel go first. Everything seemed to stop for a split second before I felt the rear wheel go. I clenched every muscle in my rear quarters to grip the saddle, but before I knew it I was sitting in the middle of the ford – bike by my side looking a complete idiot. Once I’d realised that I was in fact sitting in a stream completely wet through I jumped up, slipped again and walked out. I cycled the next 5 or so miles feeling like a toddler with a wet nappy. That’s one short cut that I’ll not be taking again!! Thankfully I was dry by the time I got back.

One big area of learning for me has been my saddle which continues to cause me issues. I must have been lucky in the past – somehow they seem to have just fitted fine or were comfy enough (to put up with). After all, a saddle is a saddle – right? Wrong!

A friend PH very kindly let me borrow 2 to try. For the last 2 weeks I’ve used what can only be described as something that would look more at home in the torture room of a medieval castle. If you are sitting at your home or office have a look at the skirting boards running round your room – focus on the bit that gathers the dust. Now imagine sitting on those two pieces for 3 to 4 hours! Utter pain – literally a right pain in the arse! Over the weekend I’ve tried one called an “Adamo”. This thing was really well thought through -gel pads in the right places, gaps in the saddle where you don’t want vibration. It had all the theory – but God it was uncomfortable!

The saddle search continues because in just 5 weeks today the ride starts. I feel in reasonable shape but I’m going to re do my routes so I target between 75 and 80 miles per day. The routes in France have been done before so I’m less concerned about those – but I’m nervous about the Spanish and Portuguese days.

Fund raising is lack lustre with just £1300 raised. Thanks to all of you who have donated so far and a special thank you to Prudential for their support. This week sees press releases going to the local press in Worcester so let’s hope that drums up some further support. I really want to raise that £10,000!!


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