Man of Kent

Posted: April 3, 2015 in Audax, Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

After the hilly events of recent weeks it was time to take Gracie the Trike on something a bit flatter. The “Man of Kent” 200km Audax fitted the bill perfectly, the start was close to home and there were not many nasty climbs lurking on the route. There would be some as this was Kent but not too many.

Between this ride and the last I had been busy with the spanners and Allen keys. The spanner helped to get the saddle into a much more comfortable position and the Allen keys all failed to be the size I wanted. I had to raid my next door neighbour’s tool kit to find the correct size to adjust the handle bars to something approaching comfortable. I was going to be out on the roads for quite a while and this time I really wanted to be comfortable. The last thing was to fit lights. There was the merest of possibilities that I might be out after dark and I really didn’t want anyone in a car to mistake Gracie for a bicycle and cut it too fine. In the end Grace’s backside was adorned with every red light I owned.

Gracie the Trike waiting for the off

Gracie, waiting patiently in the sun whilst her owner fills himself with tea.

I was convinced that I had done this event before, I was sure that it started at a scout hut and ended with a steep hill. I followed my directions to arrive at a village hall nowhere near a hill still convinced that I’d done it before. I was sure that I was in the right place as there were lots of other cyclists around. Yet again I was the only person on a trike, but at least I didn’t have to lean my machine against a microscopic section of wall.

Inside the hall they were serving hot tea to ward off the cold. Lots of people were lurking around looking very reluctant to venture out. It was one of those mornings that makes rolling back under the duvet a pleasure. Someone yelled “five minutes” and the slow reluctant movement to the outside began.

Gracie and I managed to infiltrate the second group of cyclists and, after a few miles of being overtaken, settled down into the established rhythm of cruising along the flat sections and cursing anything that could vaguely be described as up. A film crew had commandeered one section of the route which meant a lengthy detour but nothing too strenuous. More impressive were the series of insults that I was hurled from a grey van. They wound down the window especially so that I could appreciate the quality of their verbal dexterity. They intoned that I was born out of wedlock and suffered medical deformities which required me to use a vehicle designed for such people. They also suggested that I should take my machine and insert it into an orifice. I politely declined there offer. This abuse was just for being stuck behind me whilst I went round a roundabout.

The first stop was at a vicarage. It was like a garden party for cyclists. The greeting was “Bacon Sandwich or cheese croissant?” That’s how I like to be greeted. There was tea too, gallons and gallons of tea, enough to ward of the cold for another few miles. I could have lingered longer but was wary of gaining too much weight. There was still a long way to go. On the way down the road I passed a family group out for a stroll: “Look mum, that man has stabilisers!”

Let’s talk cambers; I’ve never really taken much notice of cambers before. I know they exist but up until I started whizzing around on trikes they were more like a benign presence. Someone has put them there for some reason although that reason isn’t really that clear. They were one of life’s too trivial to worry about problems. This all changes on a Trike. Cambers are a deliberate plot by road builders to guide Trikes into hedges, bushes, gardens, oncoming traffic and anything else that isn’t on the road. They are evil and they are the reason that I now really like cycling in the middle of the road. One camber tried to throw into the path of a car and another, on a junction, made getting onto the main road from the junction a battle of wills, Gracie really didn’t want to fight that camber. It was evil.

It's not exactly the full monty

A queue of cyclists waiting to be refueled

Rock cakes! The next café sold rock cakes, rock cakes the size of your head if your head was rock cake size. They were lovely. I sat there and devoured them, chased them down with many cups of tea and contemplated how many ways the camber fairy had tried to kill me. Some people tried to be sociable but my mutterings about the camber fairy chased them away. I needed to get back on the Trike before the police were called.

Stand back I'm going in....

Rock Cake Heaven

Doing your own bike maintenance is great, right up to the point when you realise that something is not quite right. For example, turning the handle bars expecting the front wheel to move, but instead finding that only the handlebars have moved. This can be quite disturbing and just a little embarrassing. What made it worse was not having the correct tool to tighten up the stem as it had been returned to the neighbour’s tool box. This meant I would have to cope with a loose stem until the finish. I was fretting about this rather than reading the directions, and this is why I ended up going many kilometers up the wrong road. I’m sure it was doing wonders for my fitness but not so much for the morale. By the time I’d retraced to where I should have been I was convinced that I was last on the road. No big deal, but it would mean no one to talk to.

CAKES and other minor things

This cafe sold the most disappointing chips and sausage roll ever. I was expecting so much more

The darkness crept up. First the back lights went on, then the front lights. If I had packed a head torch that would have been strapped on next. I hadn’t. This made following the route instructions a little tricky. Instead of just glancing at them, reading the next instruction involved putting the route sheet into the bream of light from the front lamp and memorising the next instruction. This should not be done at speed as it can result in foliage encounters, I found this out why the hard way. After an hour of riding in the dark I finally got to the village hall and the temptations of rice pudding and peaches. It had been a good day out; what’s more, I was convinced that it was possible for Gracie and I to complete a12hr time trial

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