Sunday 17 August 2008

now i'm scared

photo from london freecycle event, 23 sep 2007

I didn't do much training for our Prague-Meissen trip last week. I put it down to hormones - I felt pretty awful for about seven days straight. But whether I was actually medically under the weather, or just lazy, the result is the same: I only went to the gym once. Today, I woke up feeling much better, more like my usual self, so I thought it was time for a challenge.

I decided to repeat the route we took last year for the London Freecycle event. I rode to Wimbledon, an easy 10 minute ride that I do all the time. Then I folded my bike and took it on the train to Waterloo Station. I locked it at the station, and walked up to Leicester Square. I met K, and we headed to Chinatown for lunch. Crunchy noodles with beef and green peppers in black bean sauce and jasmine tea hit the spot perfectly. E joined us, and we walked around Soho a bit before settling on a cafe for more drinks. K and I walked over to Uniqlo on Regent Street (nothing exciting despite the sales); then I walked back to Waterloo. Thankfully, my bicycle was still there unscathed, so I got on and rode back home following the Northern Line and made it in about 45 minutes (including the harrowing Elephant & Castle roundabout section).

It wasn't all sweetness and light, though. I had the strangest experience at Wimbledon Station. After carrying my bike to the platform and lifting it onto the train, I had an overwhelming rush of (blood? adrenaline?) and nearly passed out! My face must have gone pure white - then just as rapidly, beet red. My head was spinning and my eyes went blurry. There were no seats, so I just leaned on my bike and gripped the train handles as hard as I could to keep upright. The sensation lasted much longer than I thought it should have; it wasn't just a harmless head rush. I was still feeling woozy 20 minutes later when we reached Waterloo.

"Great, now I'm stuffed. How am I going to get home? At least I didn't vomit on all the nice people..."

The walk to Leicester Square was more an exercise in auto-pilot navigation, rather than a conscious action. I was really worried and felt horrible. Fortunately lunch - and good friends - revived me. Somehow the thought of going back home on the train was worse than the idea of a 45 minute ride dodging traffic, and I am happy to report that I made it safe and sound. It was much easier to just get on the bike and ride; my head might have wanted to explode, but my legs kept working for some reason.

But now I am scared about our cycle trip!

Scary: the thought that I did about 15km today, and our shortest day on the trip will be 41km.
Reassuring: we won't be cycling non-stop. There will be plenty of breaks along the way.

Scary: Riding an unfamiliar, full-size bike.
Reassuring: Riding with such small wheels for so long means that if nothing else, I am very good at pedaling!

Scary: I will be the slowest, least fit person by far.
Reassuring: I have plenty of experience in that position! At least adults should be more sympathetic and supportive than school-age kids in PE class.

Scary: my bum will be sooo sore.
Reassuring: my new padded cycle shorts make a big difference. The ride today was much smoother than usual.

Scary: WTF was I thinking when I convinced S to do this holiday, instead of a nice train ride through Spain and Morocco?
Reassuring: He'll be right there with me, and we'll both have fun.

I'm sure that we'll have some good stories to tell. All in all, I think it will be a blast (even if there is some discomfort). One thing I keep telling myself is that if I can't do it now, I'll probably never do it. I have climbed to the tops of Mt. Fuji and Mt. Sinai. I think I can cycle from Prague to Meissen. I think I can... I think I can...

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