Monday, 10 June 2013

Nightrider 2013

Today was all about student-led and teacher-supported. The reason for the heavy emphasis?

.....Nightrider 2013.....

I woke up on Saturday at 6am and didn't get back into bed until 9pm on Sunday. That is a lot of hours without sleep. Although I mislead you... I did steal a couple of hours in that time, but I am now beyond groggy! So the students did all the work.

I love Nightrider. 100km around London with 3,999 other cyclists at night, seeing parts of London I have never seen before. And it means spending the weekend with Gemma, my adventure buddy. (For an idea of what it is like....

Here is a quick summary:

23:55 0miles - Alexandra Palace

Start time, and we hurtled down Ally Pally Hill, which is always a fun start. There is a hill quite soon after the start which is a struggle, but this year it was less of a battle. I think the difference was that Gemma and I cycled from the hotel we had booked, which was 8 miles from Ally Pally, which meant our muscles were warmed up. Phew!

The first part of the ride, minus the couple of hills, is reasonably flat. Which would in theory mean for a good quick start, but we hit the centre of London quite early on, so there was a lot of stop-start with so many traffic lights. But an improvement, I think, to the course took us away from the heart of London sooner, so the cycling was much better for that.

01:30 14miles - Imperial War Museum - Break point #1
As ever, the volunteers were brilliant, and imagine my delight to find Tunnocks wafers being handed out!!! There is something almost magical about stopping at the break points while it is dark. The mixture of flashing red and white lights is close to Christmas, and add to that the bicycle bells (just like in the Queen song), and you have yourself some magic! The mechanics were kind enough to lend me their pump, which set me up for the rest of the ride.

03:30 28miles - Crystal Palace - Break point #2
The ride between these two break points was flat and fun, and I even enjoyed the brute of the hill that we cycled up to reach Crystal Palace. It was brutal, but I had really found my rhythm and pushed hard, and the reward when you reach the top is brilliant, especially when you can then cycle on a slight downhill to get the blood back into the muscles. The first 28 miles of the ride is jam-packed with incredible views of London landmarks, and sometimes there is too much to see - you miss so much!

05:00 40miles - Tower Bridge - Break Point #3
My favourite stop.

Usually the sunrise is better, but it is such a good part of the ride. It usually comes at just the right time, and due to the change of course, it snuck up on us and as we came round a corner, there was the Tower, and I pointed to it like an excited kid! I also love cycling from Crystal Palace to Tower Bridge because of the route through Greenwich. Again, there is so much to see as you pedal.

06:30 53miles - Mile End - Break Point #4
This is another welcomed stop, as the energy levels need building up for the final push. I was determined to finish the ride by cycling all the way up Ally Pally hill to the finish, so I made the most of the snacks available to us. I also used a cheeky bit of nappy cream - a godsend to anyone that needs such a tip - to prevent any unnecessary discomfort! As at all the break points, there was a lot of banter from everyone, which makes you feel part of a big group, and part of a team, all striving for the same goal, and there is an unspoken respect for everyone taking part. We know how hard it is!!!

07:30 63miles Alexandra Palace - The Finish
And how satisfying it was this year. I struggle with the hill at the end. This year I was determined to get to the top. I reached my targeted bollards (that isn't a euphemism, btw) and felt the burn enough to stop, but then after 5 minutes of walking I climbed back on and cycled to the finish line, proud as punch itself. The bacon roll and cup of tea tasted all the more sweet.

Because of our marvellous planning, we had booked a hotel, which saved the 'driving home whilst falling asleep' issue that we usually face. That did mean, however, that we had to cycle back to the hotel.... So in total we cycled 81miles. I loved it. And I love my bike. Love it!

Nightrider, I loved the changes to the route, and the volunteers are worth their weight in gold! See you in 2014!!!!

Today's choon? Mental As Anything, of course!!!

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