Team Brevet Bird rides for Harrison’s Fund
To catch up with the story so far click HERE
The Evil Coldness
The view out of all windows at Chez Hirondelle confirmed cold. Cars were thickly covered with frost, as were roof tops. The birds huddled in big, fat leylandii trees rather than venture out to the bird feeding station to feast on fat blocks, dried mealworm and other delicacies. There was only one sensible option; to watch the world change from white back to technicolour.
Slowly the frost cleared and the temperature on the weather station rose. The coming together of these two things was such that I could schedule a post-lunch ride. Road conditions improved sufficiently to choose Beryl the Kinesis with her almost-skinny fat tyres over Scotti the MTB with fat Big Apple tyres.
I alighted onto one of my regular home office commute circuits. New Year’s Green lane was surprisingly OK (no slush-puppy corner) but with the ford in full spate. Keeping to the main road passing through West Hyde and Maples Cross saved sloshing through the streams in the lanes. I didn’t need to cross the Great Lake of Deadhearn Lane which I feared may have exceeded bottom bracket height, courtesy of Storm Bella. Then a needless climb to immediately descend into Rickmansworth and back home.
For the whole ride I was in tier 4, with a significant amount of traffic passing me. The opposite could be said of walkers and cyclists. As I exited Rickmansworth to Moor Park and home, the number of lycra-clad males on road bikes increased. More Festive 500-kilometre chasers?
Arriving at Chez Hirondelle, we were so cold that three of the team jumped onto the full-blast radiator to warm up. Alas, I am not a suitable size for the radiator so a superhot shower for me.
58km for the day, running total 351km
Time to go and visit the vampires
My vasculitis check-up was going to be a New Year’s Eve treat. Therefore, time to visit the Charing Cross Hospital vampires and get a blood test. The morning was stupidly cold but without frost. As Charing Cross Hospital is one of the sites I work at, it was auto pilot and alight onto my commuting tramlines at stupid o’clock. From home to Hammersmith, the temperature didn’t get to 1c. Tier 4 all the way and traffic was rare as hens teeth.
The next part mainly follows the river to West Middlesex Hospital, the other site. The highlights of this 12km are the Capability Brown statue, Hammersmith Bridge and a rather good coffee shop, The Coffee Traveller. From there, I took the roughstuff lane alongside Osterley House and the M4. It was packed with walkers, dogs and kids on bicycles, but is a moment of escape from grey suburbia. After this it was the Uxbridge Road, accompanied by motorised traffic with the occasional utility cyclist.
With Uxbridge behind me, I was at a critical decision point – 100km or 80km? Beryl pointed in the direction of the longer route, so up the lanes to slosh through the streams I went. There was no alternative to the Great Lake of Deadhearn Lane and it seemed to be peak hour with cars and cyclists in both directions.
The last choice near Chorleywood – straight on at the crossroads to go into Rickmansworth or turn left for bonus kms and extra hills? The cold plus the call of the teapot were the deciding factors. Rickmansworth then almost directly home as I couldn’t resist rounding the day up a bit more.
102km for the day, running total 453km
The riding window is always pre-defined by necessary things, then reshaped by the weather. Today, more frost and silly low temperatures but by 10am, I was good to go. Keeping onto known ice-free roads, I headed for the Ickenham Pump, then over to Uxbridge and Denham again. Another section of main road and into the lanes for a bit as the temperatures rose. Again, lots of traffic, not many walkers or utility cyclists but quite a number of MAMILs who looked like Festive 500 folk.
Rolled up to my front door, pressed the Garmin button which whizzed the kilometres to Strava. A virtual reality patch popped up on my phone and Festive 500 number ten in the bag.
48km for the day, running total 502km
Into the freezer
A late start was a double guarantee, thick frost over night plus a telephone consultation. The pedals didn’t start turning to almost three o’clock, what with lunch and the neurologist running late.
Given the conditions, I decided to trundle round one of my small standard loops from home as I was quite sure it was ice-safe. Leaving suburbia’s relative warmth i.e. almost 2c and out into the lanes where the temperature rapidly dropped. It settled under zero, so a touch chilly. The pond in Harefield confirmed the Garmin’s temperature – covered in ice.
With 42km on the Garmin when I was nearly back, it was way too tempting to go the long way home. 50km is such an attractive number. The reward was lots of beautifully Christmasly-lit houses. The reindeer with his mask on was rather good.
53km for the day, running total 555km
I’m very happy to have bagged Festive 500 number ten. This was certainly one of the more difficult overall. Trapped in a reduced playground due to COVID and no coffee shops to warm up in with a good mocha and accompanying GF cake. Also, my vasculitis currently causes a lot of pain and generally unwell and tired. It increases sensitivity to cold, particularly my feet. I had to manage my riding time carefully to ensure that I didn’t get too cold. If I got too cold, the result would be increasingly greater pain.
The challenge of telling the rides’ stories in photos in an area that I know so well was something I really enjoyed. It makes you look more carefully at scenery you normally take for granted. Some of the ride routes were based on visiting something that I wished to photograph, such as Ickenham Village Pump on day 7.
The thing I have not been particularly successful with is the fundraising. Many people believe that this sort of thing is a pushover for me, so the riding lacks the ‘challenge’ that is generally required for fundraising. The unseen disability is always problematic. Do you keep quiet and just get on with it or bore the pants off people about it? For the last three years, I have taken the approach of ‘just get on with it’, which has bitten me on the bum for this fundraising challenge.
Raising funds for a rare disease such as Duchenne, doesn’t resonate with people as say breast cancer. From a research perspective, it is fantastic that technology such as genome sequencing is readily available and that the cohort for this disease is big enough for meaningful outcomes. Hopefully finding out how it can be treated isn’t far off. I understand why sponsorship is low but I take my hat off to Harrison’s Fund for their persistence in such a difficult task.
If you would like to contribute to Harrison’s Fund click HERE