Team Apogee 2012 – LIVE BLOG Part 3
Thursday September 20
Part Three – 210 Miles to Paris:
Day 2 – The “easy day”.
I got up this morning walking like Andy Dufresne after the ‘sisters’ raped him in Shawshank Redemption. It dawned on me that I sent Wednesday’s blog without proofing or reading it but; after cycling one hundred miles…
My pain from the day before subsided but is still there lying dormant waiting to be woken from its slumber. Johnny Painter responds instantly to my alarm call and we are in good spirit, ready to go and motivated by the word in the hotel that today is an easy day.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb are up and about early and we are quickly downstairs for breakfast where the guys begin their destruction of the French language. “Bon Jaw” is Campbell’s confident opening gambit followed by what sounded like a call for clemency when he responded to his coffee being delivered to the table with “Mercy!” By the end of the day Femi has made the French word for thank you sound like a Argentinian Footballer who plays for Barcelona.
We are all on time, proud of our efforts yesterday and meet everyone else for our pre ride briefing, fortunately or unfortunately everyone knows Team Apogee. At the briefing we are told that there is “nothing to worry about” on today’s route and that we had got through the worst on Wednesday. When anyone says that there is nothing to worry about, let it be your cue to start shi**ing yourself. We are lulled into a false sense of security and mentally unprepared for the day. What followed should be etched in Apogee folk law.
FFS. In the first few hours of the day we were subjected to more pain and suffering than anyone could have wished upon us. It would have tested SAS or SEAL trainees. I have cycled up the Surrey Hills, Box Hill, Ditchling Beacon and numerous other hills that have tested will and skill but this was worst. Much worst. The Tour de France is not the greatest cycling test in the world for nothing and we were to find out that in reality it is no place for enthusiastic triers like us.
The only thing that’s stopped any of us from quitting or just stopping for a while was peer pressure, male pride and everyone who has supported the cause. If that was not enough, we then had to suffer the ignominy of having our arse kicked by a young lady (now dubbed wonder woman) whose St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington fund raising group, decided to ride with us. The rest of her team fell by the way side but she not only stayed with us but also made it look effortless and led us into the 25-mile water break. We are knackered and a few egos are dented but somehow we have made it thus far. We are on the rocks, shaken and stirred.
The support team grace us with their presence, making a rare appearance at the water stop and to a man we collapsed in and around the vehicle. There is no way that we can keep this up for another 50 miles today. Barry does his General Patten impression and insists that we will not be broken.
That ride thus far takes its toll on everyone and once we recover our poise and our breath we are the only ones who seem stupid enough to be keen to continue; we get back in the saddle and keep cycling. Nobody or team, wonder woman included. joins us choosing to wait to be pushed on. There must be a God. It quickly becomes apparent that we have indeed completed the worst part of the course and we settle into a more settled riding style.
I say settled but the team is temporarily disoriented by the shock to our system. It starts, characteristically for Team Apogee; with a bit of fun as Jason’s complaint that fly’s keep on flying into his face is met with the suggestion that it may have something to do with the size of his head. It descended into farce with Femi ‘confiding’ in us that our physical exertions since Saturday’s boat race have resulted in blood no longer reaching the extremities of his reproductive system – his willy. Our Schadenfreude at Femi’s plight is short lived as the quality of the road that we are cycling on turns into an extremely uncomfortable 6 miles ride. It is akin to sitting naked on a tray of stones on a tumble drier for half an hour.
Barry is finds the pain from the burst blisters on his buttocks extremely painful but not as painful as being left in the teams wake and has a mini breakdown. Jason, obviously familiar with Barry in this mood thinks that it is as good a time as any to ride as far ahead of the group as possible. But Campbell comes out of his world (I caught him singing, laughing and smiling with himself today) and steps into the real world to get the brunt of the breakdown. Painter try’s the impossible; to make himself invisible. Femi, with one eye on Campbell accounts seizes the opportunity to keep an ailing Barry company. I selfishly try to pull myself together after the 25-mile torture chamber experience as my legs continue to write cheques that my sore undercarriage cannot cash. I am in agony and well clear of our 15 minutes of madness.
There is nothing like a crisis to pull a team together and we have a mini crisis just before lunch as one of the bright orange directional arrows that plot our course to Paris is turned in the wrong direction probably by a local kid. Who knows where we would have ended up if one of the organising support vehicles had not passed behind us and spotted the mischief? It cost us 4 miles but it enabled us all to focus and fall in love with each other again.
Lunch comes at a good time. I had been looking forward to some French cuisine only to see that the e-mail address on the caterers van ending in .co.uk… Great, more tasteless food but it allows us to regroup, get over the first 25 mile shock to our systems and ease our respective ailments
The rest of our day is quite uneventful and we take advantage of the relatively (there is always a hill thrown in at some point) flat terrain to complete the 70 plus miles ahead of everyone else and get us back to the hotel before 4pm. We are tired, very tired but decide go out all together for a nice meal and a couple of drinks. Meal complete, we left Evol and Richard at the restaurant and hope that they do not over do it – Idle hands???
The accumulative effect of what we are trying to do is going to make tomorrow probably our toughest day yet with the French version of the Green Monster a 1.1 mile ‘impossible’ steep hill climb awaiting us during the 60 mile day. But when all is said and done, I am having a blast with a great group of men whom not only do I like but also admire for their scary, almost kamikaze will to succeed. Tomorrow it will hopefully ensure that although the journey may bend us; it will not break us.
Painter, his sleeping profile has an uncanny resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock, has been fighting the sleep all evening and has succumbed again but is not yet snoring. You could not wish for a better roommate… Well actually I could but you know what I mean.
Before the start of JP’s verison of Mozart’s 4th concerto in E flat, I am going to take this window of opportunity to sign off and get some sleep myself.
Mercie (Pronounced mair see)