This weekend I made a series of discrete decisions that resulted in me riding a solo century with a tent balanced on top of my saddlebag, itself filled with formal clothes for a wedding.
I’d been invited to the evening reception of a wedding on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. It’s 2 hours by train, plus a taxi at the other end, and I felt a bit ‘meh’ about the whole going-to-a-wedding-on-your-own kind of thing. But I really wanted to go, so I thought I’d make the most of the day and cycle.
I left booking accommodation so late that there was nothing available, it being the middle of nowhere, other than a campsite. I don’t own a tent any more, having abandoned mine in Austria last month in a fit of rain-sodden pique. My housemate lent me his, a roomy and comfortable 2-man tent. Perfect for carrying on a bike.
I planned to set off early but spent some time trying to find clothes and shoes that would be a) suitable for a wedding and b) packable, and then trying to secure the tent on top of the saddlebag. When I eventually set off I was held up at the Woolwich Ferry for a good half hour (I don’t know why I persist in loving the ferry so much) and it took forever to leave London. I wasn’t sure I’d make it on time, and started to think about where I could get a train from.
Things picked up considerably when I left the howling wasteland that is East London and I stopped in a village near Chelmsford for a plate of pasta, surrounded by women drinking pinot grigio on their way to the V Festival. I rode up a dual carriageway to Braintree and managed to get lost (despite having a garmin) in some lanes near Sudbury. I was trying out various different gels and bars, some of which were unpalatable (I’m looking at you, powerbar) so I had to throw some of them away (in a bin, I hasten to add) and was pretty hungry. I took a shameless selfie.
The final 30 miles were a blast, I felt really zen. I arrived at the campsite, pitched my tent, had a shower and headed to the wedding reception, where I danced to abominable/awesome music all night.
Would I do it again? Yes – with a smaller tent (I was able to do yoga in mine the next morning, it was so spacious), with a different route out of London and with more food (there was some bread and cheese at the reception but it didn’t fill the hole and I woke up in the night so incredibly hungry that I had to go for a walk around the campsite, the only thing I had remaining to eat was a caffeine gel and I couldn’t bring myself to do that).