Going Dutch

Whilst my bike, along with many up and down the country, rests idle while these islands rapidly descend to join our cousins across the North Sea below sea level tonight it’s hard to find anything to look forward to although being a grounded bike rider is nothing compared to being flooded out and dependent for assistance on a washed up politician from the Blair era, putting a Labour party former minister in charge of protecting life and property being on a par with making Freidrich Paulus president of Stalingrad Civic Society in the dubious public appointments department. Fortunately my thoughts are able to turn to summer and riding the route of the 2012 Olympic bike race which I found out about whilst channel flipping last August and thought might be fun. I’ve paid my entry fee and booked a hotel. Now all I need to do is try and ride my bike a couple of times between now and August in the hope it doesn’t seize up from lack of use completely rather than just look at it forlornly in the kitchen, headlamps gazing morosely at the lino as the rain, former bits of trees and Kansas farmgirls beat against the windows. On the plus side the frequency with which the lights are flickering suggests I won’t have to look at it much longer.

People often say Londoners aren’t very helpful to visitors but I think it’s great the way all districts of London have the word London prefixed to them so out of towners can be sure they are booking hotels near the centre and not in some similarly and misleadingly named location which is actually miles away and so I’ve made my reservation in the ancient borough of London-Stansted which the receptionist assured me is just a short ride in to the city. It’ll have to be as I had to promise to leave them my car to help settle the cost of a room for the night.

Place in the ride and city centre penthouse suite secured I’m still just a little unsure how I’ll adapt to the conditions down south. The streets of London are paved with gold, unsurprisingly given the proportion of the national income we all pay them in tax, and I don’t know if you need special tyres for that or if the Continental PotholePro6000s I use at home will even be allowed by the very long list of rules designed to prevent terrorists, who for doctrinal reasons always carry out their attacks on bikes without plastic plugs in the end of the handlebars so if you enforce tidy bar tape you thwart their evil plans and make the world safe for democracy, infiltrating the festivities. The other big challenge is that London is flat and this won’t necessarily suit my riding style which is to walk up hills, coast down them and generally ride for hours without ever turning the pedals. I’ve taken a leaf out of the pros’ playbook though and have been carefully studying videos of the route to get a feel for what I’ll be up against.

I’m also still unsure how I managed to get into an oversubscribed ride that left so many keen riders who tried to enter as frustrated as a flooded out householder on the phone to the Environment Agency but I can only guess that my limited interweb skills, as demonstrated on this blog on a slightly irregular but broadly weekly basis, resulted in my accidentaly entering the number of days I reckon it’ll take me to get round the course into the estimated time section hours box and the organisers took my entry to be almost certainly a front for Marianne Vos seeking to relive her Olympic gold medal one more time. Not wishing to disappoint I’ve already bought some orange shorts and in fact I’m wearing them right now to get into the zone. I’m confident if I wear my really dark sunglasses I’ll just about get away with it. The bike riding bit of being Vos might not be progressing very far this evening and geographically, metrologically and something else ending in ically it all seems a long way away but whether I end up in a ticker tape parade through The Hague or in Guantanamo Bay for not wearing a helmet I’m quite looking forward to the big day and I picked up a car load of Heineken on my way home earlier so bad weather or not getting into shape for re-enacting the biggest dutch victory in the south east since 1667 starts tonight.

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