Tall story

Forgive me father for I have sinned – it’s been two weeks since my last confession… I’m on a diet at the moment and I’m tired all of the time – I’m well behind on emails and too sleepy to blog in the evening. Hopefully there will be longer term benefits. Winding back to Tuesday 9th;

We got up early and headed off into the South Downs with three fellow cyclists with 55 miles ahead of us to Arundel. I found out quickly that this was no cakewalk – the first hour was a long uphill slog up what felt like a 45 degree hill. It felt good when we got to the top and naively I thought that the rest of the day would be a lot easier, but we were quickly into a rapid descent and on the slow climb up the next hill.

As I saw it the team broke up into two groups: the pros (Bob (50) who sees a ten mile run as a gentle warm up for the day and Max (19) squash captain at Wellington school and fit as a flea) and the jokers (me and Tim). In truth I was the only real joker but Tim had a bad knee which was slowing him down. The game changed after a couple of hours – Tim’s knee was hurting him too much and he pulled out, leaving me to square up to the two supermen as we went off road and onto the downs proper in the pouring rain. The rest of the morning was a tortuous game of hare and tortoise. They would head of into the distance and stop for a chat at a suitable point. I would get there slowly and agonisingly, and almost immediately they would head off into the distance again. Some of the terrain was very tough and it was very hard to stay on the bike, not helped by the ‘cleats’ on my shoes that I had never used before. It was purified pain.

We had a pub lunch and set off again, but after lunch I was half the man I had been in the morning which didn’t make me much of a man at all. The first hour of the afternoon was a long uphill slog – I nearly made it to the top but I got cramp in one thigh and then the other. We stopped at the top of the hill to listen to Theophrastus run at Exeter – he fell at the first. I would have carried on but my time had come – Bob sacked me from the team and I set off on the lonely downhill trek back to Brighton where I caught a cab to our hotel in Arundel and took a long bath.

On Day 2 it was decided that Tim and I should have a head start – we were dropped about 8 miles up the road at the bottom of a steep hill. It was tough terrain and a cold day, but the sun was shining. We kept a steady but slow pace for most of the morning – after an hour we had the good news that Bob had broken his chain, so we wouldn’t have the humiliation of being run down by the hares before our lunch stop. When we finally made it to the hostel Tim said he had had enough and was packing it in. The chasing pack arrived soon afterwards – they had been joined by Jules, another frighteningly fit individual. I didn’t see the point of slowing the supermen down in the afternoon so again I called a cab to head home.

We had a discussion about our high and low points of the ride. Jules said the only time he had seen me really animated was at dinner on the first night, when I realised that the seven people around the table had ordered seven different starters. It was particularly freaky because there were only five starters on the menu – one of the guys had ordered a main course as a starter and Tim’s wife had gone for the vegetarian option. Now what are the odds on that I ask you !!

After a day off I headed up to the lake district for some mountain climbing. I’m going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in February and this was our team bonding session. I travelled up with my brother-in-law Liam, who runs www.golfbidder.com. Among others I knew in the team were Mike Falconer (CEO of bettorlogic) and Nigel Payne (director of Sportingbet).

We had a lecture on Kili on Saturday morning and went up a substantial looking peak in the afternoon. On Sunday morning we had a slideshow followed by a shorter climb as time was tight. It was all good clean fun and I thought I took the climbing well.

My low point was in the evening. We were talking about Africa and (no idea how we got on to the subject…) I said that giraffes are dangerous because they can faint and fall on top of you – I’d heard this from a friend but it was met with derision around the table. The girl next to me decided to google this on her Blackberry and she found an article on Giraffes and fainting and read it out. The gist of the article was that there is a correlation between the length of an animals neck and the likelihood of them fainting – “I told you so” I said smiling at my detractors. She went on – the longer an animals neck, the LESS likely they are ever to faint – giraffes are therefore the most unlikely animals on the planet ever to faint. Sometimes in life you just have to take it on the chin.

I have a runner today in the 11:45 at Lingfield – Wolf Slayer comes back after a break. I liked her early on but she didn’t deliver to her potential and is still a maiden. I don’t think she was quite right then and she may be better now – I don’t think she’ll be a superstar but she should be decent and could go very well today.