Saturday, 27 October 2012

Trains, Boats And Bicyles!

Hello Blog lovers.

Big Cheese Strikes Again!

The call came from London. Captain Leggy had told all the Fridays to gather in the specialists. As many as possible needed to capture The big cheese, The fat stuff was being peddled out again to our poor unsuspecting citizens.

We met up with one of Captain Leggys Fridays, Big E.  It was a cold night. Big E is used to these cold nights, regularly riding  through the night, any time the year, in search of the Big Cheese. The Old Boy was used to cold nights too, as he has worked nights for years in the past! But for me, this is going to be a challenge. Returning home from a November night out with the girls in ridiculous unsuitable attire, waiting for taxis for half hour in the freezing cold, does not constitute training for a mission like this.

 On The Job Training

To test the Old Boy in path finding, he was given the honour of leading some of the way to Head quarters. He has been training hard! Talk about speedy! I was having to work hard to keep up with him! Big E  was at the back, making sure that I didn't get lost on the way. I was pleased he stepped back into the role of getting us to HPC. Test completed for the Old Boy on Path Finding. Pass, as for me, I think I would probably get a 'Could do better'.

Head Quarters At Midnight

We arrived at headquarters, The Arch at Hyde Park Corner. I was already chilly. But I had listened to advice, I had come prepared with drink, but this had some special energy giving stuff inside, with added caffeine! I was really determined to do battle with the 'The Big Cheese' this evening!  I took a slug of my drink, maybe I should invest in a thermos and have some nice hot chocolate in there instead.  We waited for others to arrive. The cold wind reminding everyone one that this is going to be a tough mission! I only hope that I am up to it. The Old Boy did give me an opportunity to back out of todays ride. We could just ride on home, while its still early, and we are able too!

There were only about 50 brave souls today! 50!  Can I really keep up with them. I took another slug of my energy drink, gave myself a talking to, and tried to pull myself together. The regular Fridays were there, Walnuts, Long Martin.  Captain Leggy took the roll call and allocated all the positions of 'Tail End Charlies' and 'Marshals' The safety talk was given. And then we were off.

Littered Streets.

Through the chilly busy streets of London we wound our way. Through the traffic and revellers of the night. The street cleaners were going to be very busy tonight, the wind had blown over the day litter bins, there were plastic bags being blown up in the air, along the pavements, across the road, threatening to get caught up in the wheels and gearing of our bikes. Or maybe even getting blown into the windscreens of the cars passing us by! That could be a disaster, that could take out quite a few of the Specialists with just one plastic bag! I still am amazed at our city. As we pass by some of our fantastic monuments and buildings I look at them and feel proud to live in or at least near by this great place. So far the cold wasn't affecting me. I was well wrapped up,
"More skins than an onion" as the Old Boy loves to say! 
I even have two pair of socks on!  But going through the streets of London, was bound to be a bit easier and warmer than the country side. I was still feeling confident.

Last Chance

I'm not sure if there were any 'Newbies' on todays mission, but I did notice that it was a tad faster than the last two missions I had been on. Or could it be that I am probably not as fit as I should be! I will carry on, this is an important job, and a tough job, there is no room for wimps. As we were going through London I kept thinking, "This may be a good moment to bail out."  But the Fridays only want the dedicated people to complete the missions. Maybe in hindsight I should have done. But I am a determined soul! I had started and I wanted to finish. We make a great talking point as we ride through London. Ok, so the people who are out at this time of night are usually the revellers, and they are amazed at the amout of people there are on bikes! A car on our right rolled down the windows and sitting in side were Dracula and zombie, and some other creature that I couldn't quite see. Halloween party night! Let's hope that this ride won't turn into a horror night for me!

The Big cheese has an Alie, our code name for him is 'Baby Bell' We are to reach this 'Fat Stuff lab" and close it down before the stuff ever gets to the street. Fortunately for us it was on our way to where the 'The Big Cheese' is ready to peddle the 'fat stuff' to the unsuspecting citizens of Burnham-on-Crouch.

Stock, Lock And Tea Urn.

Captain Leggy had information that  'Baby Bell' was in a place called 'Stock' So that was our first point of call on this very cold October night! Our band of brave Specialists, along with the regular 'Fridays' snaked our way, silently through the clear crisp night. The rain that we had during the day, was evident on the roads, as we avoided puddles and muddy verges. We had to stay as dry as possible if we were to complete tonights mission. I  don't think I would have made it if it had been raining as well. Although, I had on the regulation uniform that was necessary for colder, wetter missions, a new cycling jacket, warm gloves and thermal socks! Nothing is every truly waterproof.

Once we were out into the country side, I kept having to sip at my drink. My energy levels felt like they were totally depleted! I was struggling, big time! I can recall the first time I rode this way, on the the training mission, A Nice Genteel Ride To The Coast, I found it all so easy!  It seems that my memory has been playing tricks on me and just like the mental blocks about the hills going to Brighton, I couldn't recall any hills going to Southend, well maybe one one or two, but I had managed those fairly well. Now I am struggling even up tiniest hills.

Instead of overtaking everyone on this ride, everyone was overtaking me! I was at the back, I could hear the tail end Charlies chatting to each other! This was so unlike me! I kept trying to push myself to go faster, but it just didn't happen! I was whining like a child to the Old Boy "How far have we cycled so far" I said to him
"Well from when Big E met us we have only done 34 miles"
That did not make me feel any better! It meant we had another 12 miles or so to do before I can get out of the cold and wind! I felt such a fraud being there, among Britain's best 'Fat Stuff Digesters'. The Old Boy kept me going, literally! He was pushing me up the hills and the flats and the slight inclines! All while pedalling along himself! I think the Fridays could have another member someday, if the Old Boy feels the 'calling'.

I was so pleased to hear the words, "Just a hundred yards up is 'Baby Bell Cheese lab"
The Big cheese had taught Baby Bell well, he too was using unsuspecting innocents to dish up the 'Fat Stuff'. When I arrived I was really hoping that all the others had cleared the tables, with maybe just leaving me a few crumbs to deal with! But when I got there, the  tables were still laden. There were cheese baps, trying to look like the healthier option by using whole grain bread rolls! There were ham rolls and egg rolls, they all looked so delicious. Oh and the cakes! Muffins, the size of a eight portion birthday cakes! Homemade bakewell tarts.  I really wasn't feeling to good at all. The site of all the delicious fat stuff spread before me was making me want to run for the hills! I opted for just one chocolate muffin and a cup of tea, with sugar of course.

I did have a drop of warm stuff with my tea!

I sat down at a table, the Old Boy chose one roll, one cake and a tea. But the tail end charlies! Now they are dedicated to the cause! Big E, who was Tail End Charlie for this mission, had two rolls, two muffins,  two cups of tea, and Walnuts, the other Tail End Charlie, had a rolls and it looked to be a huge toasted tea cake!. And all the other regular Fridays, and the volunteer Specialists, all seemed to be 'doing their bit' Saving Stock from the 'Fat Stuff'.  Yes, I felt a total fraud.

Let's Roll!

Captain Leggy gave his troops a pep talk, as he always does when they reach these 'mini factories'  He thanked the people for their hospitality, after all, they are the innocent ones, they just don't know what they are peddling to the unsuspecting public, and he doesn't want to cause unnecessary panic by telling them. We just roll in and roll out. Some might say, they are the men in black!

Time to head out, to the latest main outlet of the 'Fat Stuff'. I reluctantly put on my coat, still shivering from the cold. I was feeling so ill. The muffin, felt so heavy in my stomach. I felt as if I wouldn't be able to digest this at all. All the way to the next destination, I felt very unwell. The hills, each one felt like 'Bitchling Deacon' all over again!

I had heard some of the Specialists talk of a nasty little hill further along the route. I just tried to ignore it. I was expecting this huge great hill, maybe not as steep as Bitchling, or even Turners, but a noticiable hill. We started a climb, I had told the Old Boy about the hill, and he said
"This must be it"
"No, I said, this can't be it, I'm sure its steeper that this" I kept going up the hill, the hill just seemed to go on for ever! I wanted to stop, but I didn't want to let everyone down. I didn't want to keep the front runners waiting for me all the time. The hill went on and on. And then I saw them. Waiting at the top. Big E came up from behind me and said
"There you done that hill"
"Yes, but I won't be able to do the one they were all talking about" I said appologetically,
"Thats it, tha'ts the one we just did" he said. Well, I could at least smile about that!

 I struggled all through the rest of the night. Burping, spitting! I know, not very lady like at all! And then it happened. I had to pull over!
"Stopping!" I called out!
I didn't know whether I was going to puke or pee! In the end I had to pee. I got off my bike, my head spinning like a top! I nearly fell over my bike! Luckily we were stopped by a discreet bush for me to hide behind. Still, a tad embarrassing, knowing that the Tail End Charlies, were parked up waiting for me to emerge from the bush!

Further along, into the cold, windy night! The wind was just so strong! I could feel it pushing my bike sideways! I have never really experienced that before! But the 'Fat Stuff' was proving to much for me. Every breath I took, I could taste the sweet chocolaty muffin. It was almost as if I was still eating it. It became to much.
"Stopping!" I shouted again! I had to pull over! Heaved, and spat, and chocked! I threw up! Not the whole lot! but still enough for the 'Tail End Charlies' to notice!

I felt a bit better, I took some more of my energy drink! And then I suddenly thought "I wonder if it was this stuff that was affecting me?" I was grasping at straws now. I so want to be one of the Specialists, to be able to keep up with the Fridays and Captain Leggy, to do my bit for Britain's ever expanding waist lines! For the rest of the journey to Burnham I was at the back, although, I did notice one other chap was riding along at my pace. I even had to over take him on a couple of occasions as well!

I kept up my spirits by looking around. Looking up at the stars. It was clear sky! The brightest star seemed to be our guiding star, as we  followed it along, keeping it in our eyesight. A comforting star, sitting up there in the sky. I can imagine, that star up there, has guided so many people to their destinations. Looking out for them, getting them to where they need to be, all over the world, and for hundreds of years. And there will be plenty more people that will be following that star.

The sky started to brighten up as daylight slowly crept up on us. Our final destination was near! The Old Boy continued to push me along, especially on the inclines and hills! I started to feel a little better. Maybe I won't head for home as soon as we get to Burnham! A second wind the Old Boy and Big E had said. Maybe I will be able to get stuck into the 'Fat Stuff' when we get there!

The Ferry 'Cross The Crouch

The new factory was a little cafe, right next to the river Crouch. We locked our bikes up and joined the band of willing and very hungry volunteers to devour and eat, and digest the fat stuff. We took over the whole cafe! There wasn't a chair left. Me and the Old Boy found a table and chairs in what seemed like the stock room. It was cold! I sat there and shivered. Again, I felt as if I couldn't manage to really get stuck in, the Full English was just not going to be had by me. I opted for tea and toast! With butter! Well, this is the whole reason for being here!

Here's me, looking grey still in the stock room

The Fridays and the Specialists cleared the cafe of its eggs, bacon, and sausages. Some of the regular Fridays even had chips!, Like a plague of locusts they cleaned up. I still felt like a fraud. Captain Leggy was giving the option, to some of us, of returning to London from here. The train station was just up the road, we had past it just as we arrived at the cafe. Here was my opportunity to quit while I can. But, I really didn't want to. I know the mission was over, but for the Fridays, the war against the fat stuff is never over. As it was only another 9 miles to Southend, Captain Leggy wanted to head back there to see his good friend at the Cafe they always use for the Nice Genteel Rides to the Coast, the training group bike rides for would be Specialists, The Rose at Southend.

Me and the Old boy on the Ferry

Some people did go back from Burnham. But me and the Old Boy didn't go! I thought I would manage to do the extra, tiny little bit. It was 'flatish' as Captain Leggy said. I wanted to show my worth, my metal. So I said I would go the extra mile, or 9 miles in this case. He had organised a Ferry to take us over the River Crouch. I was very pleased that it wasn't a frosty morning. The gangway would have been lethal! The people who had opted for the ferry carefully made their way down the gangway and loaded the boat with their bikes. It took three trips by the ferry to get us all over. I was in the first boat! I was so pleased that the cafe on the other side had opened. Although we had to wait for about 30 minutes after landing from the ferry! Still, the sun had warmed up the wall of the building which also acted as a wind break from the cold northern wind.

As soon as we were all together Captain Leggy wasted no more time, and we were off to Southend. We arrived at a T junction, they were all stopped there, waiting for the people at the back, i.e. me along with the tail end charlies. From here, a few complete 'Fat Stuff' hero's were heading home, riding all the way! Big E and Walnuts and some others. Incomprehensible for me to even think about! We said our good byes and the were off. The rest of us continued on our way. There were now about 20 of us left.

We arrived at Southend. The sea, the fun fair, the people amazed about how many bikes had turned up! and we rode on towards the cafe. Here is where some more people parted company. Some were going straight back to London on the train. Yet a few more were going inside the cafe to consume just a little more. Only 8 of us went into the cafe. A nice refreshing cup of tea, coffee, chocolate biscuits, egg sandwiches. Friday men to the last! I had the easier option of tea and toast again.

Look Mum No Hands!

Me and the Old Boy were invited back to chill out with the Fridays and specialists in a great favourite place of all cyclists. We took the train back to London, Fenchurch street, and rode though the busy streets of London again to their favourite place. A place called 'Look Mum, No Hands'. Here there is healthy foods, salads, and olive breads, jacket potatoes! But also pies, cheeses, cakes. This group of dedicated souls continues to rid Britain of the Fat Stuff.  Pies, and jacket potatoes with chilli were consumed, and what impressed me is, they all left the salad. The mission weekends is all about the 'Fat Stuff'.

The Big Leggy was looking around, chatting to all his regular soldiers that were here. The ones that had gone straight back to London from Southend. The debrief began, over a few beers. Great company of people, a great night, bu just not one of my finest rides, I  had failed in my mission, but I had managed to continue to the very end, learning valuable lessons for future missions!

Captain Leggy, with his wife and two specialists


The Big Cheese and Baby bell, well, they won't be doing business for a while. But unfortunately, they both got away again. The hunt for the Big Cheese continues, Captain Leggy and his Friday crew will not let this land of ours fall into the hands of the 'Fat Stuff' peddlers, all the while there is the FNRttC crew to kick ass! A big thanks to Captain Leggy, for a great night! Can't wait for the next one, but, I think I will leave the colder months to the professionals!

The Old Boys geeky stats are here. In my novice ways, I had forgotten to start my Garmin, again! But it has only record as far as the other side of the river Crouch.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Just a Short One, Yeah?

Hello blog lovers.

Well the cold virus has taken its nasty little grip on me! I have been hold up for a couple of days, even though I did go and do marshaling duties for my running clubs 10k race on Sunday, its my way of giving something back to a fantastic running club, that has not only kept me running, but I have found some lovely friends there too!

This evening I said to the Old Boy, "I wont be able to go too far this evening, so maybe just a short 10 miler will do"
"Yeah we can do that" he said.

I went upstairs to get changed, still feeling as if I should really be changing into some PJ's instead. I got my bike out of the shed, and then.....noticed the flat tyre! I can't remember getting a flat, but then, I don't suppose your do remember things like that, if when you put your bike away the tyres were still inflated!

The OB swapped the inner tubes around for me, he can fix the other one when its more convenient! And then we were off.  Just up to Halsted and then down to Opington, that was our plan, but as usual, plans change! I wanted to do an even shorter route, and ride off back down to the A21 and then back home.

The Old Boy suggested that we go through the lanes and then down to the Greenstreet Green. But then his suggestion to go through to Opington and the up Knoll Rise didn't do my aching limbs, snotty nose and tingling throat any good!
"How about if we go through Halstead, then down Cudham north Lane, stop at the Blacksmiths, and then got to Greenstreet green and I ride on up the A21 and go home"
"Well if you do that, you might as well just carry on to Orpington, and go up Knoll rise, as its just one hill, and its all over and done with" he reasoned with me.

In the end, we did stop at the Blacksmiths, and then we did go through to Orpington and up my old nemesis, Knoll Rise! I was just a tad intimidated, but only a tad! After all I had done Turners Hill, and rode up some of Ditchling. Even so, I do have this cold virus, and I will struggle a bit. But not as much as I thought, yes it hurt, and yes, I still know that is hill that I am climbing up, but I was actually going a little quicker than the first, second or even third time I rode up this hill!

I am pleased with that, I can live with that. And now......home, home, home! I am tired, I am hungry, and I am disappointed.I wanted to wear my new jacket today,  I had ordered it but it just wasn't what  I thought it was, and it was a bit big! So I sent it back. I shall have to go to a shop, try one on and buy it there and then, you know, they old fashioned way of buying things! And also excited! But I shall explain why that is in tommorws running blog!

So geeky stats, from the Old Boys Garmin, and you will notice, it wasn't the 10 miles, that I had asked for, it was virtually double that! Not bad for a sick Old Girl, is it?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Riding With Skelator!

Hello Blog lovers.

Where has this year gone! It,s cold out, we have to start our ride with lights, and I knew I should have put on my bright woolly hat to start with! Yet I went out with my cap still! Brrrr, my ears were freezing!

The last time our bikes saw the sky was a week last Saturday. When me and the Old Boy were on our way home from the night ride! Since then, there has been colds and man flu plus a fishing trip for the Old Boy. So today was all about getting back on the bike and seeing how much rest we have both indulged in!

"Just a little plod along" said the OB, "Just to loosen the legs up"
Our route was the usual one, up to Halstead round about, and through the lanes to Biggin Hill. I wasn't feeling in the greatest of form. It seems as if the cold virus is trying to capture me. It has started with a cough and a bit of sore throat! But I am not going to let it get to me! I shall fight it, tooth and nail!

I thought I was doing a pretty good pace. The Old Boy wasn't nagging, and I was just pushing along at what I thought was pretty fast! Non stop all the way to the round about.
"Whats the time?" I said to him.
"39 mins"
Oh the disappointment! I really thought I had done so much better. And the he comes out with,
"It did feel a bit slow, but this is a pleasure ride, so no nagging"
I could have swung for him, I really pushed hard up the last bit of hill!

We decided on the next part of our route and that was through the lanes to Biggin Hill. It was that way or going up to Chislehurst! I think I would rather keep the hills all together, get them out of the way and then a nice roll on down to home.

We did decided to stop in the Greyhound, just for the one, and then ride on home, through Hayes and Jubilee park and finally PettsWood.

Oh speaking of Pettswood, my running club is having their annual 10k race this Sunday, there is still some spaces left, so if you are into the cross training why not turn up to this race, the link is HERE, I shall be there marshalling, and cheering on the runners! Its a great day, voted the top No.1 10k in the uk, 2010 and 2011, and we have kids races as well now!

There thats my running club advertised! But it really is worth it!

Geeky stats, from the Old Boys garmin.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Capture Of The Big Cheese!

Hello Blog lovers.

The Gathering!

It was a dark but clear night, The  call from Captain Leggy came that the Big Cheese was again peddling out the 'fat stuff'  to potential Couch Potatoes. He was spotted in Brighton, along the sea front. It was going to be a tough job tonight, there is of course Turners Hill to get over, and Bitchling Deacon! The 'Fat Stuff' is such an addictive substance, turning normal human beings into Couch Potatoes. Its the Job of the 'Fridays' to gather a group of specialists together to stop the 'The Big Cheese' inflicting the 'The fat stuff' on them.

And so the gathering started, from as far away as Leeds and Portsmouth, the specialists, and me and the Old Boy, made our way to Headquarters, the Arch at Hyde Park Corner. The specialists are a dedicated group of people. By day ordinary beings, going about their business. Some are even fortunate to be able to use the 'Specialists transport' for commuting to work. The transport of course are bikes! All sorts of shapes and styles are here for todays mission. We even have a trike!

This is only my second mission. There were some other brave souls that are going out tonight for the first time! Ready to battle with 'The Big Cheese'

"Right, I'm going to do the roll call' Said Captain Leggy. He started to read the names out!
"Old Girl"
"Yes I'm here"
"Old Boy"
"Big E"
"Here" Captain Leggy, continued until all was ticked off, then the mission was read out to us.
"Tonights mission, men and ladies, is to get to Brighton, all of us. According to intelligence received, there is going to be a very big drop off  of the fat stuff tonight, at a cafe along the sea front" There was a murmur around the gathered troops.
"Not only that, but we also have to go and destroy a micro mini factory en route. It's going to be tough, but you have all done your training"
Another murmur through the eager crowd. I was excited to be going out again to fight for fitness and Health!
"Just to recap, and to let the new recruits know the signals, what do we say when we see a hole?"
"HOLE" shouted out the regulars,
What do we say when we see glass?" he continued
"What do we do when we see bumps"
"When we turn left?"
"and when we turn right?"
"RIGHT" By now even the newbies were joining in
"Now what else was there"
The Old Boy

Some of the Specialists
"BOLLARDS" shouted out the regulars! They may have an important mission to do, but they have a great sense of humour!

The posts of the 'tail end charlies' and the 'pointers' were delegated by Captain Leggy. And we were ready for the off.  We gathered at the road side ready to hit the roads and head on for our important mission. The night was perfect for the new 'specialists' the moon was bright in the sky, not cloudy, and the rain is not expected to be on any part of tonights route.

 London Town

We slowly snaked our way through the busy traffic of London Town. We looked so graceful, a glittering stream of twinkling lights, silently threading through the noisy pollution making cars and taxis.The occasional "Hole" was heard from the head of the trail of bikes, and it quickly filtered through to the back. Cars, taxis and Bus drivers all, of course, are in cahoots with the big cheese, to make Couch Potatoes of us all! Some even tried, in vain to stop us in our mission. On our way to HPC a car driver tried to take out Big E.
"Sorry guv, I didn't see you"
Didn't see him! Big E's lights on his bike wouldn't look out of place on a Boeing 747!

So far so good. The route was flat, just how I remembered it when I rode the charity event back in June. Back then there were thousands of bikes, and some of the roads were shut off, or made one way only. Then it seemed such an easy ride to Brighton, stopping every few minutes with just the sheer volume of cyclists. Not really really a true ride to Brighton as we kept stopping, for tea and cakes!

Through the traffic we rode, some deep in thought, others chatting away, even more just taking in the great sites of this fine metropolis we live in.
"This is a nice conversational speed" I said to Big E,
"Yes, its nice pace." he replied. I carried on pedalling my bike, looking forward to seeing what the night will bring. We crossed over Chelsea Bridge, all lit up! Hundreds of bright shining lights that look as if the bridge has been made of strands of diamonds. An Awesome site.

 We carried on our journey, heading south, towards Brighton, the last known whereabouts of the 'Big Cheese'. The Old Boy rode up beside me,
"That's where I dropped you off the first time you did the charity ride" He informed me.
In the dark it looked so different, and of course there was no marquees or tents pitched up. The only cyclists about were the 100 riding out now, with the odd commuter, (potential specialist maybe!) riding home, from a long day at the office, or a just a night out.

We went through the common, and stopped briefly to regroup, traffic lights has a way of trying to separate us all. But Big Leggy will need us all in Brighton in the morning, or should I say later today, and he will not leave a man behind!

The pace through to Croydon was just about perfect for me. I was busy over taking a few people, The Old Boy, close by me chatting away. And then the first hill. Something I didn't remember on the first ride to Brighton, or even the second ride to Brighton, with the Charity Event.
"This is only just the start of the hills" the Old Boy said
"No, there is only Turners, and, and that.....other hill" I said.
No, this is a hilly ride, I told you before"
"But I don't remember tough hills like this I said" as I puffed and pushed up the hill the people I over took were now catching up to me. Maybe I was too eager to be a specialist. Maybe I should have just opted for the new recruits 'Training grounds' ,  the FNRttC Genteel rides Southend.

No! I can do this, the Old Boy has been busy searching hills in our area to give me some tough hill training. The Big Cheese now  has another nemesis to deal with, and that's me! This tiny little hill is not going to get the better of me! We were only in Coulsdon, 26 miles from when me and the Old Boy had left home! This was the first challenge. I didn't want to let Big Leggy down, or the other Fridays, or the specialists that had turned up for tonights mission. The Old Boy just stayed by me, telling me to take it easy, as we had quite a way to go, and he didn't want me to burn out just yet.

The down hill towards Chipstead was a great relief, but over all too soon. There was another hill, even steep and higher than the one I just rode up.
"I don't remember these hills" I said, whining to the Old Boy.
"I told you before, it's a hilly ride, it was when we did it with the charity, its just that we had stop, start, stop, start all the way." he continued, as I puffed up the hill again, "Now we are riding non stop, this is serious riding" he said.
I rode up the hill, silently, well, my heavy breathing could be heard, letting everyone know that I am, normally, a hill dodger!

  The Bad Lands

It was nice to get out of the traffic. The country side was such a better part of our ride. I was looking forward to this section. The weather was still such perfect conditions for us. Then the Old Boy heard someone mention that we were going through the BAD LANDS. I wasn't sure what this was. Considering our mission, I was expecting tons of Kebab shops, and Burgers joints, or worse, KFC's on every corner. What I wasn't expecting was to go through some dark road, full of potholes and bumps!

Has the Big Cheese set up some traps to take out a few of our guys and girls? Who knows. We carefully picked our way through.
The calls came thick and fast, alerting everyone of the dangers. Like a perfectly oiled machine, we kept riding through the Bad lands, avoiding all the pitfalls. There were a few shouts of anger, as some of us hit a bump too hard, or went down a missed hole. We managed to get through, we had made it. All of us.

 Easy Riders  

The contours of the land had become flat again. Everyone was riding along silently, lost in their own thoughts. What is going to be next. It was obvious what was next, as we rode on down the road I saw the front runners all stopping at a building, pulling up in side the opened gates. The Big Cheese had already dropped off a load of his 'gear, this was his micro mini factory. The scout hut, at the Edifice in Horley,  a very inconspicuous and very clever cover. We were all ready to deal with the mini mission! This was the real first test! Can we get in there and and deal with the 'Fat Stuff'.

The Old Girl
The Big Cheese was totally blatant about it. He had fooled the scout leaders, and the parents totally. They had no idea of the about of calories they were dishing out. There they were , smiling, ready to sell the 'Fat stuff' and it all looked so tempting. I was quite away behind the front runners, the queue was out the door by the time I had got to the scout hut. The first of the brave souls were there, devouring the delicious fresh sandwiches, the cakes, muffins, fruit cake. Me and the Old Boy joined the queue ready and willing to join in the destruction of the 'Big Cheese's' Fat Stuff. We had worked hard, we all were in need of calories.

The specialists

The Old Boy
I tried to do my bit. I had one of the sandwiches, a cheese sandwich at that. With a chocolate orange muffin. I had my coffee, ready to wash down the fat stuff. I tried. Maybe I hadn't worked as hard as some of the front runners. I managed to eat one sandwich and most of the muffin. I was struggling, I just couldn't manage to eat all of it. I had to give away half my sandwich to Big E. The muffin I did manage to eat most of but again, there was still a morsel left. The Old Boy managed to eat that for me.

We waited a little while longer, to help digest all of the Fat Stuff,  then we filed out of the Scout hut, with a big cheerio  to the Scout leaders and parents, the poor unsuspecting souls, safe in the knowledge that none of the 'Big Cheese's Fat Stuff' will hit the streets.

Work The Fat Stuff!

The next part of the journey was a nice flat route. Just what we needed after the Horley experience. It felt great. But it was still a way to go before we get to the really heavy stuff. The stuff that can make couch potatoes out of any hardened sporties. You need to be a specialist to be able to handle the Fat Stuff. You need to be a dedicated sportie. Get in there, eat the Fat Stuff, and then work it off. It's all too easy to just sit on the couch and let the 'Fat Stuff' work its....well stuff into your body, building up the pockets of fat around us all, turning us into, dare I say, blobs!

Silently, the twinkling lights of the specialists, snaked through the dark lanes.
"Look at the stars" said Big E, as he pulled up along side me.
With a very clear night, and hardly any light pollution you could see bright sparkling stars in abundance. Now this is one of the beautiful moments that missions like this has. A fantastic sight! I was feeling really good. In fact so good, that after all the times Big E kept urging me to overtake some of the specialists I thought I would 'Buzz' him. The Old Boy and Big E were chatting away in front of me, and to cheer myself up I suddenly put on a bit of speed and flew past them, leaving them in my dust as they wondered who that pink flash was that passed them by!

The next hill was one that I was really dreading. Big E and the Old Boy had caught up with me.
"You're going to do this one" Said Big E
"You can do it" echoed the Old Boy.
I, on the other hand, had doubts.

I was hoping that I was just going to find myself at the top of it, I was hoping to miss the sign that said 'Turners Hill'. That was my plan. But then Big E went and let the cat out of the back.
"There's the sign for Turners"
Right then, this is it. My nemesis. Get up Turners in one go. The Old Boy and Big E was right behind me. I started the climb, a nice steady pace.

"Try and spin the pedals" said Big E, something that I have head from the Old Boy and read in the cyclists book. Also something I couldn't quite grasp as my pedals were spinning anyway!

But sure enough, slowly, slowly I was going up the hill. I was hurting, I wanted to stop but the encouragement from the boys kept me going. I was doing it! I was slowly beating Turners Hill! I couldn't believe it when I saw the Gathering of the specialists at the top of the hill! I had done it!  I conquered Turners. I had congratulations all round! I was feeling pretty good.

After a break to get our legs back, we continued on our journey.

Lindy Hop

After the fantastic down hill section, which felt so good after Turners, there was another tiny hill, but a steep one. We arrived at Lindfield, which when we did the charity event the whole village turned out to welcome us.Now it lays in darkness, the residents sleeping peacefully in the beds. As the specialists go unnoticed, saving the nations expanding waist bands. But just after this was Scaynes Hill. I was tired  now. But again I managed to get up the hill in one go! The training is paying off.

From here until Ditchling Beacon there were a series of little humps and bumps. That is how the Old Boy described them. I, on the other hand, would have described them as nasty little blighters, trying to foil our mission. I again, said to the Old Boy
"I don't remember all these hills last time"
"I told you it was going to be hilly, but you can do this, just take it steady, Ditchling will be here soon"

I rode through in silence. In my own struggle with the little blighters, zapping all the precious energy from my legs.


Ditchling made its ugly yet beautiful appearance. You can not help but stand back and take in the full magnificence of this great country we live in. We had made it to the bottom of that hill. Only a couple of mechanical, punctures, and chains, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. But we all made it. Also waiting for us was 'AFOTF', A Friend Of The Fridays. He was there with his family and several thermos of hot strong coffee! How cool is that! Not only that but there were some energy giving chocolate cornflakes! Just what you need to get up the Bitchling, I mean Ditchling.

"You're going to ride up here" said Big E confidently.
"No I'm not" I said back, just as confidently. This is one hell of a hill! Just totally energy zapping, even if you walk it!

With the Old Boy and Big E by me we made our way to the beginning of the hill.
"Just take it stead" said the Old Boy, "Don't over do"
"Look for the flat bits, and rest your thighs" Said Big E.

I started the ascent. Slowly up the hill. Even at the beginning I could feel my legs starting to hurt. But I kept going. I got to the first flat bit, and maybe the next flat bit. My legs were feeling like jelly. I was struggling now, but I realised that I had done more this time round than I had the two times before. I had to stop though.

I took a breather, and then started again. The two guys with me, encouraging every single turn of the pedals. I wasn't liking this, I wasn't liking this one little bit. It was hard. I really wanted to get off and walk.
"I can't do it any more" I whined
"Yes you can, get to the next flat bit"
At that moment there didn't seem to be any flat bits at all. At that moment it seemed to me as if the whole world was on a slope! Flat bits were a thing of the past. I stopped again, forgetting all my training, I should have said 'Stopping!' I had stopped on the non flat bit, I stopped on one of the hillier bits.
"I can't do it" I said again, "And I can't start off again on the hill"
"I will push you" said Big E, determined to get my ass up there.
I managed to get to one more 'flat bit' and then I said to the others,
"I'm done, I can't make it, go on, you got to go on, just leave me"

Reluctantly the two guys rode on up the hill, I watched as they disappeared up the hill. I was determined not to sit at the road side though. if I have to walk it I will walk it. I looked around now, filling my lungs with air and filling my vision with the most fantastic views! If I was cycling up here, I would have missed it! I would be watching the front tyre eat up the tarmac very slowly. I would have missed the rolling hills that was spread out before me, the way the early morning sunlight lit everything up, making it look golden. This truly is a rich land we live it. Diamonds in Chelsea and gold in Ditchling.

All of a sudden Big E came back down from the 'mountain'
"come on Old Girl I shall keep you company"
He rode slowly up the hill again as I walked next to my bike.
"Look there's the Horse sign" he pointed to a sign at the side of the road. "Just after that is one more bit of hill and then everyone is waiting for you" he said

From the sign of the horse I found myself mounting my bike.
"I am going to ride this last bit, I am going to ride to where everyone is waiting for me"
I started pedalling, very slowly, my legs burning, my lungs and chest hurting, I could see the next flat bit and just concentrated on that. As I got nearer I saw the first of the specialists waiting. I rode on a bit further, there were more of them.
"She did it, she rode on Ditchling!" shouted Big E.
Everyone started clapping and cheering.
The Old Girl and Big E
"Look there's the Old Boy" said Big E.
I rode on up to him, a big smile on my face. I did it! well almost! I did half of Ditchling, and I even rode up the most steepest part of it.

Big E had climbed it twice now!


There was just one last hill to get up and over. I know we never did this one on the charity event! It was up and over the golf course. The Sun was up now and it was bright and promising a great morning and afternoon. The hill in the distance, where we were heading was bathed in sunlight.
"If I can do some of Ditchling, then I can do this" I thought to myself.

Me and the Old Boy cycled side by side, up the last of the hills. My legs were tired, they were hurting. My arms were aching, as were muscles in my back. But I kept up the pace. When we got to the top I just had to stop and look around.  I smiled. Just then I felt like I was on top of the world

I gave Big E my phone so he could capture that moment, of me and the Old Boy on top of the last hill.

Me and the Old Boy!

The road down to Brighton. Now this is how I remembered it last time. No more hills, no more climbing. But not this time. There was just this one last small lump to deal with. Up by the Golf Course.
"If I can do the last bit of Ditchling Beacon, I can do this." I thought to myself.

I rode along side the Old Boy, talking about the Beacon, talking about Turners, feeling pretty good about it. At the top of the last hill I took a break, for a photo shoot! There I was, conquered all hills, (Ditchling in parts) and I was ready to do business with the Big Cheese!

Entering Brighton and my thoughts were flooded with the charity event. People around, cheering you through, hundreds of cyclists, but now there were just us, and the car drivers! Again, they had a last desperate attempt to foil our plan as one car driver pulled out nearly getting the Old Boy.
"Sorry" said the driver
"idiot" said his passenger! I can only believe that she is not a road user of any sort, as I know that if you approaching a round about you need to stop and let the people already on the roundabout can pass by safely, as was the Old Boy!

Down to the Fat Stuff making factory. Already there were the front runners, ordering a full English! I feel I could definitely handle a full English now. and do it justice! There were be no left overs!

The Fat Stuff!
Well, actually I couldn't quite manage to eat it all, Big E again stepped in to save the day, he took the sausage, and the egg, and and put it into one of the two breakfast rolls he had, as well as an Eccles cake. A true Friday man. But then, he was cycling all the way back home again.

Me and the Old Boy, joined a few more hardy souls at the pub for a celebratory drink before making our way home on the train. A great bunch of people, all dedicated to the cause!  Another successful mission for Captain Leggy and his troops, and the Fridays. Thanks Captain Leggy for the experience! 

Unfortunately, The Big Cheese had made his escape! Even as I write up my report, he is busy somewhere plotting out his next evil plan to turn humans into blobs. The job of the Fridays is not over!

Photograph of Specialists in Scout hut and Ditchling Beacon courtesy of Mice.

Remember blog lovers, if you ever are tempted by the fat stuff, make sure that you have the knowledge and the training to be able to deal with your hit of fat stuff. Run, power walk, cycle, swim. Anything that is a fat burner!

Stay safe and healthy out there!