Saturday, 12 February 2011

The "death wobble"

At this rate I'll need a bit of their help myself!

This post is not in the slightest bit garden related (well apart from the hedge mention a bit later), but I feel the need to impart.

As many of you know I took part in the British Heart Foundation's London to Brighton Bike Ride last year and loved it. I was also fortunate to raise a decent amount of money for them thanks to the generocity of friends, family and you guys on-vine.

I decided to enter again this year, and as I'm a former participant I get a guaranteed place and also enter a team myself.

Having completed the course last year I had a number of friends, neighbours and colleagues who said they'd take part this year and of the four "definites" only LadyWayne's brother is taking part.

So, I sold him my bike and bought a new one and we eventually managed to get out for our first ride this afternoon. The weather was forecast for sunshine so I have to admit the hail we set out to was a bit of a surprise. Then we tackled the big hill just outside the village. Brother-in-law behind me I set off and rapidly dropped down through the gears. "We'll get to the top even if it takes half an hour" said b-i-l. So I plodded on, breath puffing in front of me, lungs heaving, throat rasping.

There was a steady stream of water running down the hill from the now dissipating rain and hail - it became mildly hypnotic and before I knew it I'd reached the last corner - not long now. To this point I hadn't dared look behind me to see if Chris was still there or not.

Eventually the hill began to flatten out and I glanced behind me to see nothing but empty road. I decided (not before time) to stop and have a bit of a drink. After a few minutes I saw Chris come sauntering round the corner huffing and puffing. As he drew nearer he mounted the bike again and made it up the rest of the hill. "Well done lad" I uttered. "I think I've bitten off more than I can chew" came the reply.

We carried on.

Chatting away for the next couple of miles I mentioned that it gets easier with practise and that a lot of it is down to gear selection. Not minutes later we approached a small hill and Chris began to falter in front of me. "Perfect illustration of gear selection" he uttered as I passed him.

We then reached a turning point in the road. Right would take us on a longer loop and a bit of dual carriageway and left would take us on a shorter route but down a really steep hill - where last year I reached my fastest speed.

Left we went.

As we approached the apex I began to push hard in top gear, chasing down the cars that had passed us shortly before.

"See you at the bottom" I heard from behind me.

Now I should point out at this stage that I am on a new bike that I had never ridden before. I had replaced the stem before we had come out, and it's a smaller, lighter bike than the one behind me that I rode last year.

As I approached a bend I hunkered down and tucked in my elbows.

Then my heart leapt.

I felt the bike start to shake.

Then it started shaking more violently.

I feathered the rear brake (discs) and started to look at the hedges flying past as a "softer" option.

The bike eventually started to settle down and my heart worked its way back down into my chest.

As I slowed my brother in law came flying past not realising how scared I'd just been.

At the bottom of the hill there was a pub. We stopped for a pint and I recounted my tale over a medicinal Tribute.

The rest of the journey home was much more sedate and enjoyable.

I have since looked into what I'd experienced and have read that the "death wobble" (and it did feel like I might have been hurt quite a lot had it have gotten worse) is a relatively rare occurence - not one I wish to repeat any time soon.

Neeldess to say - if I make it up Ditchling Beacon again this year I will take things a little more steadily on the downhills into Brighton.

1 comment:

Nic said...

I love how the near death experience ended with "we stopped for a pint" haha