Some days you just can't wake up. You hit the snooze button a few times but just can't bear the thought of getting out of bed. Today was not one of those days. I had been waking up hourly since about 4am waiting for my alarm to go off. It was a mixture of excitement and nervousness, like applying for a new job. Today was my first long distance bike ride, the Thames Bridges Bike Ride.
To top it off, I do not have joy joy feelings of cycling in London. It seems weekly a cyclist is getting injured, and although I have had some practice out on the roads, I still was not too confident.
The day however, was perfect. Blue skies and a dabbling of happy clouds, it was hard to feel nervous on such a beautiful day. I showed up to Southwark Park and started off, grateful the ride was on a Sunday and not many cars were out and about.
After remembering to turn on my Garmin (*face palm*), I went over Tower Bridge, where my fiancee was snapping photos a la paparazzi of me. I smiled and continued on... hopefully I would see him soon at the finish line!
It really angers me when cyclists do not follow the rules of the road. To be fair motorists do it too, generally as a result of experience and thinking 'whats the harm?' so that is probably the same mentality of cyclists; but considering how many accidents occur in London I was surprised to see as many road violations as I did by cyclists. I am sure I broke one or two too... a few times I felt like I was "just pulling in front of" cars due to not knowing which lane to be in. However, turning left on a red? Come on!
Once we got out of London proper was when I felt I was really able to speed up. It was wonderful to see all the activity along the Thames, with a lovely breeze and the sun still blazing away. I enjoyed watching the rowers in formation, and all the dogs playing merrily on the banks.
Richmond Park had the toughest hill on the course, but was not nearly as bad as the hills in the New Forest. However, by then I was in the mid-upper 20 mile range by then, and my legs were not in a happy place. Thanks goodness for my Camelback.. and then going downhill!
The last few miles were gloriously traffic free, giving me time to look around and more or less amble to the finish right across Hampton Court Bridge, where Tom was ready to take more photos of me getting my finishing medal.
In all, it was an amazing route. I feel much more confident now on roads, although I still feel avoiding the central bits of London during rush hours still to be a good idea! Will I do the Palace to Palace up in Warwick next Sunday? Sheesh I just finished this one-- give me a break! :)
You can still donate to the Stroke Association at my JustGiving page... thanks to everyone who donated, you have helped countless others with your generosity!