Way back in January, I casually agreed to take part in a charity bike ride, for Action Medical Research for Children. Great cause, I like bikes, everyone wins. I'd had a look at the website, and it didn't look all that difficult. Pictures of lot's of women looking like they're cycling casually, having a lovely day out. Super, I can do that.
Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I see a press release announcing my involvement, and the fact that I'm doing a hundred miles. ONE. HUNDRED. MILES. In a day. On a bike.
Things that are a hundred miles apart:
- Oswestry - Sheffield
- Gloucester - Shepherd's Bush
- Bromley - Calais
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My Mum immediately suggested I 'downgrade' to one of the easier rides. No way. I'm not a downgrader, Mum! Besides, a press release has gone out, and I don't want to defy a press release.
So, a hundred miles it is. Normally one might train for this sort of thing for ten weeks. But, I had in my head I was probably doing about forty miles, and that I didn't really need to train. I'm a regular four times a week gym goer, and, without sounding like a humble-bragger, I often do two hour cardio sessions. Forty miles is about three-ish hours exercise, so I'd be fine. I'd been on a few casual bike rides on my mountain bike, nothing too strenuous, thirty miles or so, just to check I'd be okay, and I was. I'd also been going apeshit in spinning classes - I figured that ought to do it. I was okay for forty miles, but for a hundred? I was way behind.
I was about four weeks behind on the training, so I enlisted the help of a proper trainer, who has helped me devise a training schedule that will get me ready to cycle a hundred miles in only five weeks. Now, before anyone else attempts this, quite frankly alarming, feat, I should point out that I'm a regular exerciser, so I'm not starting from scratch.
I had a mountain bike, which would have done for the thirty seven mile ride, but that wouldn't be suitable for the big one. It soon became clear that this hundred mile bike ride, needed a world of equipment.
Where do you even start? My trainer Hazel lent me her triathlon bike, whilst I had a better one on the way, and I've got a super fancy carbon thing coming from the Aladdin's cave of bike gear, Wiggle, any day now. I sort of don't care about how light it is for the bike ride, I just want to take a picture of me effortlessly lifting it over my head, because that's what matters, right?
I couldn't wait for it to arrive, I had to get going immediately. I needed to get used to riding a different sort of bike, and fast. The first thing to get used to were the clip-in pedals. Shoes that attach your feet to the bike, unless you perform a special manoeuvre to remove them. This is all well and good, until they refuse to unclip, despite all your best efforts.
Picture, if you will, you're on a bike, arriving at a beachside cafe, slowing down to almost a stop, and then just tipping over. No dramatic crash, just a slow, undignified tip. Three times I did that on my first day. Two of which were in front of people, and the third in front of a dog. The dog was the worst because, there was simultaneously a witness and no witness, so I still had to style it out and make excuses just in case.
Despite looking like a nob, I was adamant not to look like a nob. I don't want to be one of 'those' cyclists I often drive past in town centres, that look like they're about to take part in the Tour De France. I was adamant that I was going to work something eminently more casual.
My trainer lent me proper cycling sunglasses, which there was no way I was wearing. I mean, they're a nob-tastic yellow, and everything. Cut to: me learning the hard way about high speed flies in the eye, as I try and remove a dead one from my left contact lens, whilst simultaneously trying to unclip my feet, cue me falling over sideways in front of a dog. I've got glasses on order from Wiggle as we speak.
The list of things I need is insane. I mean, I'm just going for a bike ride for goodness sake. My trainer said I urgently needed chain lube. Urgent chain lube, right-ho. Whilst browsing online for chain lube, I came across a website trying to sell me bike floss. BIKE. FLOSS. 'Hey, what are you doing Vikki? Want to go out?' 'No sorry, I can't, I'm busy FLOSSING MY BIKE.' Naturally, I got some. After the cycling glasses debacle, I don't want to be caught out without bike floss, lest terrible things happen.
Despite all my moaning, I've had a brilliant week. I've been performing at Liverpool Comedy Central, and normally, when I travel to places for work, I usually see little more than a bit of the city centre, the comedy club, and the inside of a mid-range chain hotel.
This weekend I've done ninety odd miles (split over three days) around The Wirral, which has some absolutely stunning coast line. Coast line that I wouldn't have seen if it weren't for having to get out on a bike. I have a feeling that having a bike in the back of the car, alongside my stage piano might become a bit of a thing.
If anyone would like to join me - you don't have to cycle 100 miles, you could opt for an eminently more sensible 37 miles, check out: http://www.action.org.uk/diva_warwickshire