Team Brevet Bird rides for Harrison’s Fund
The Rapha Festive 500 has been a big part of my Christmas celebrations for the last nine years. The nominal goal is to ride 500km between Christmas Eve and the close of play on New Year’s Eve. The real part of the challenge is to document your journey in photos, words or both. If you reached 500km, a rather wonderful patch was yours.
Every one of the last nine years the ride has been totally different, so the story line for the 500km is never the same. The first Festive 500, with 200km brevets to Ledbury and then back, was made more memorable for the days being filled with endless rain. Defeating icy roads with the trike was another memorable year. This year, the dominant themes are the COVID restrictions and my ongoing struggle with neuropathic vasculitis which makes riding my bike a bit more challenging, due to the amount of pain the nerve damage causes.
Another twist has been added to the journey, a challenge set by the Westerly CC to raise funds for research into Duchenne’s Disease. It is a disease that affects only male children and most, if not all, do not make it to adulthood. A tough gig for both the parents and the affected children. Harrison’s Fund has been set up to raise funds for research. The Harrison’s Fund remit is to find a cure for the disease, rather than provide palliative support and treatment.
As a bike rider who works in NHS cancer research, this was a challenge I could not turn down.
To sponsor us in this quest click HERE
Crimbo parcel delivery service & a spot of errandonneuring
Twas the day before Christmas. Due to the everchanging COVID tier system and the restrictions these changes bring, my mother had a Christmas parcel to be delivered almost locally and now needed a courier. As it wasn’t too far between home and the recipient (as the crow flies(, Mum asked if I could deliver it. Delivery charge = 2 bags of M&S large chocolate button.
The day was bright and sunny. Beryl the Kinesis was ready to go. The parcel fitted into my saddle bag along with two members of Team Brevet Bird, Digby and Jock. We were all set. Little did we know that we were carrying a stuffie owl.
After a small urban loop, we headed out into the lanes which were still like riding through shallow riverbeds with the quantity of water and gravel that had accumulated. Luckily Beryl was shod with was seems to be the perfect tubeless touring tyre, Schwalbe Almotion TLE, which seems to keep the puncture fairy mostly away. The big flood near Chalfont St Giles (The Great Lake of DeadHern Lane) was now so big and deep, it almost requires a ferry service. Luckily, with a see-sawing pedal motion, Beryl made it across the lake. Strangely runners and cyclists were pretty thin on the ground through this section, although family groups of walkers could be spied in the villages.
Thus, I continued pedalling and resisted the best mocha in town as I whizzed past KoHo in Little Chalfont and then a few roller coasters before I grovelled up Ley Hill. Stopped off briefly at Venus Hill, where I had spent a good hour with my Dad as a teenager trundling around the lanes to find what isn’t really a hill at all. Then it was mainly downhill to our parcel drop – successfully made. Retrace up, belt down the big hill into Rickmansworth, then home. We arrived at Chez Hirondelle with 84km on the GPS.
But there were some other errands that needed running. By doing this by bicicle this would be an errandonnee . Scotti the MTB was the machine of choice as, with a pair of big Karrimor panniers, all the errands could be done in one hit. Into Pinner to pick up the M&S order, then to Tesco’s at Pinner Green for the pharmacy and home. Another 16km on the GPS.
100km for the day, running total 100km
Christmas Day and the great coldness
Christmas day was bright but cold. Frost-covered cars and rooftops. The weather station confirmed cold. The planned early start was binned in exchange for a later 10am start. Dave our bike butler was along for this ride. With the knowledge that the lanes were so wet that they would have turned into ice rinks, they were immediately no-go areas. Scotti the MTB was deployed as he has both fat Big Apple tyres and SPD pedals letting me don alpaca socks, Shimano SPD boots plus overshoes. With such foot coverings, my feet stood some chance of not becoming ice blocks. Dave used his anti-ice machine, a trike.
A brisk main road ride ensued, including climbing up to the giddy hights of Chorleywood to immediately descend to Rickmansworth and then home by Moor Park. Just to round things up, as Dave headed directly for home, I squeezed a small loop in to nudge the ride to the 40km mark. I still made it home by the auspicious hour in time to be home for Christmas Day’s low key COVID festivities.
43km for the day, running total 142km
Due to excessive faffing, plus weather that wasn’t exactly enticing, a ride kicked off after lunch. I wasn’t entirely on my own as Digby and Jock were ensconced in the Carradice. The weather was now warm, i.e., 6c but came with inbuilt dampness. After a tour of the delights of Uxbridge, a former coaching town when coaches were pulled by horses, I headed for the Oxford Road and passed ‘The Crown & Treaty’ where Oliver Cromwell and King Charles held a meeting to stop the Civil War. This was a fail.
Into Denham where Cromwell’s New Model Army tramped through on several occasion and up the riverbed lanes. Another crossing of the Great Lake of DeadHern Lane. Easy-peasy with Scotti and his high bottom bracket. Darkness started to descend as I took a dogleg into Little Chalfont and back. The houses on the outward-bound section had some amazing Christmas lights, making riding in the dark a pleasure. Then home via the squiggly descent off Chorleywood, through Rickmansworth and home. During the run into Chez Hirondelle, as I reach suburbia, I passed a number of road cyclists. Were they too chasing the Festive 500?
65km for the day, running total 209km
The day of many lakes
The weather was set fine; sun, blue skies and relatively warm, 6c. The lanes of Hertfordshire, Dacorum and Buckinghamshire called. We set off, me on Beryl the Kinesis and Dave on the trike again. Within 5km of leaving home, the first flood appeared but by using a service road, this one was avoided. The same couldn’t be said for the 20 or so floods that followed, installed by storm Bella overnight Deep, long, wide, skinny, all combinations existed. Some lanes even had floods separated by small sections of road. Keeping feet dry simply became mission impossible, despite overshoes.
We passed plenty of walkers, but cyclists were very thin on the ground. Perhaps they didn’t want to get their feet wet and give their bikes the Paris-Roubaix look? To add to the fun and games, one of Dave’s trike’s rear axles started to make funny and quite disconcerting noises. Running up to 70ish km, it was time to swing for home. The lure of lunch, a hot shower and central heating was too much to resist.
84km for the day, running total 293km