On the weekend of 19 September, I had the privilege of joining 11 other volunteers on a sponsored bicycle ride from London’s Olympic Park to Amsterdam. We set off shortly after 8am.
Nobody told me there were mountains in Essex! Fumbling with unfamiliar gears on the bike generously lent to me by fellow vendor, Gary, I met with a law of diminishing returns from the first hill out of London - the more furiously I pedalled, the slower I went until it was faster to get off and walk. What I am told are rolling, gentle undulations of virtually flat Essex seemed to me like Alpine passes. So despite setting off first on the grid, in the yellow jersey - pole position - after each stop, I trundled in around 15 minutes behind everybody else, to cheers and applause at the next. Foxes, squirrels, various birds, hedgehogs - a cat - there seemed no end to the variety of charming little animals we encountered squashed on Britain’s country roads but, luckily, the bulk of our cycling was done on quieter lanes.