Saturday, 13th September
Chesham – Chartridge – Great Missenden – Amersham – Chorleywood – Chesham. 29.29 miles
Today, the front tyre was flat. I have absolutely no idea why, although I suspect that the cats have been sucking the air out of it, trying to get the high-pitched effect that we humans get from helium. It’s the only explanation that I can arrive at, since I’m on the second tube in a week, and there’s nothing at all in the tyre. I’m not really sure what even possessed me to give the tyre a quick squeeze, but the lack of resistance against my thumb set me up for thirty miles of paranoia.
Once again dressed in argyle, I looked like a cross between a pimp and a pervert. As I left the house, I fully expected some kind response from the neighbours or passing cars, perhaps in the form of rotting fruit being thrown, and verbal abuse being hurled, but there was none. In fact, almost the opposite happened, and I had just about made it as far as the living room before the impromptu photo shoot started. I am destined to become Britain’s Next Top Model.
Eventually, I got out of the house and onto the roads of sunny Buckinghamshire. The route took me out of Chesham, heading towards Chartridge, on the steep but very short climb, that soon eases out into the considerably steadier five-mile ascent taking you out of the Chess valley. For the first three miles of the climb, I have absolutely no idea how fast or how well I was going – I had spent the entire time staring at the front tyre, trying to work out if it was just my paranoia or if it really was going soft. It wasn’t long before the paranoia had spread, and I was convinced that the back tyre was also flat, too. I stopped to check the tyres. They were fine. This was bad news, as it meant something far more serious than a punctured tube. It meant that I was suffering from a fat man’s flat – the weight of my lard was making the tyre appear as though punctured.
I’d intended to make a left turn as I approached Great Missenden, and head back in the direction of Chesham, and home. Despite the niggling doubt that remained over the whole tyre situation, I was feeling good. Until today, I had been listening to my iPod on solo rides – usually something cycling related, such at the ITV Sport Tour de France Podcast, with the vague hope that it would inspire me to ride harder, and partly to avoid thinking about how much more it hurts to ride a bike when you’re fat and unfit. Something was different today. I had the iPod with me and, although it’s stayed in my jersey pocket before because I was stupid enough to leave the earphones behind, today I didn’t even think about it. Instead, I could hear the voices of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen inside my head, commentating on a variety of delicious race-winning (or, sometimes, race-saving) situations that I was imagining being in.
I realised that not only was I pushing hard, but I had been for the whole ride. Not only that, but I felt less tired than when I try to spin my way through the rides. I carried pushing, and pushed on for miles. I felt bloody marvellous.
Here’s the map:
Todays bike: Pinarello Paris with full 9-speed Ultegra and Mavic Open Pros