On Steve Abraham’s journey to 75,065 miles or more, it was time to play away from home and sample some randonneur hospitality. Chez Brevet Bird was the first stop of many by Steve to numerous AUK homes for a high speed bed, breakfast and evening meal.
The day had been made a bit more challenging for Steve with mega headwinds. So he needed to forge a cunning plan to accumulate miles but minimise the draining effect of the headwind. Steve’s rather neat solution was to form a one man circuit race and ride in circles, so getting turn and turnabout headwind and back wind with some sidewind thrown in for free. Steve’s tenacity and dedication to doing what is needed for the record meant that he spent about nine hours in this lapping pattern. Then it was time to head off for the dénouement of his ride, arrivee in windy Pinner.
As Steve wanted a route of least resistance that could be ridden at 16mph, I formulated one using a local evening 10 mile TT course plus some routes my Dad had taught me when we first went out cycling together with the Marlboro AC. Dad’s mantra was always ‘why go up a hill if you can go around it’. The most cunning part of this was sneaking around a rather fine and very steep hill that lives at Rickmansworth.
By the time I’d ridden like a girl and fought the headwind and lost, I didn’t quite get to the pre-arranged rendezvous with Steve at Costa, Wendover. As Steve had my route on his Garmin, it was a simple matter of riding until our paths crossed. As we were the only ones to be daft enough to be riding bikes at 7:30pm on a Saturday night in winter, it wasn’t difficult to spot Steve’s bike headlights coming towards me and do a U-turn.
With the wind on our backs, Steve assuming the position on his tri-bars and me scurrying on his back wheel, we sped along the A413 to Amersham. Things slowed down a little bit on the climb out of Amersham as Steve is riding to a very specific heart rate in order to ride as efficiently as he can each and every day. It was almost time to enjoy the descent to Rickmansworth when I found I had a rear visitation from the Psttt Fairy. As time is miles, Steve continued solo.
Once my bike had both tyres with air in them, I recommenced pedalling as fast as I could. I needed to be back at home to change from route guide to cook. Arriving home just in time, I was able to have the pre-prepared dinner ready for Steve once he had showered. Dinner, upload GPS track to Strava and it was, as Zebedee says ‘time for bed’. As Steve headed for a very hard earned sleep, his cycling kit was fed to the washing machine. In six hours, it needed to be ready for Steve to wear again.
All too soon, the sound of the Tour de France could be heard; the alarm had gone off, it was 4am. Then it was check the weather station, get dressed, have breakfast and then get the pedals turning. The weather station indicated that it was, for stupid o’clock, quite warm at 3C. However, with the wind again not behind but in front, it was pretty chilly. The destination was one of Rocco Richardson’s favourite roads, the A4. With little or no traffic about, we were able to utilise main roads as well as carefully chosen smaller roads andavoid Slough with its never-ending traffic lights. Riding in the dark when most sensible people are still asleep, it felt like the late Pat Kenny was with us. Riding at odd times of night and day was one of Pat’s fortes. I’d never heard anyone else needing to go for a bike ride in the middle of the night to get a glass of water.
After some careful hill avoidance work, we arrived at Maidenhead and the A4. Steve was to continue on the A4 until it was time to turn and head home with the back wind, and I had a significantly shorter ride back to my home. Being a mileater, and despite the still very early hour of the morning, I looped around some of my favourite roads. It was very nice when dawn popped up to meet me and the sun shone. I arrived home at 10 am with 100km in the bag. Steve was back at his home at 8:30 pm with 299km and another milestone; 2000 miles since New Year’s Day; only 73,065 to go to join Tommy.