Cycling Training 1: London to Brighton*

*nearly.

I’m pleased to announce that Alps training has started in earnest. Today I embarked upon the challenging 85km route from London to Brighton, taking in some fairly hefty hills upon the way. I have to say it went rather well, with the only hiccup being that instead of cycling 50 miles to Brighton we instead cycled 10 miles to Richmond, which is a minor detail. We did very nearly go to Brighton, but then we couldn’t be arsed.

The famous deer of Brighton

The famous deer of Brighton

 

I’ve decided this approach is the way forward – so instead of cycling from Geneva to Nice in 6 weeks time, I’m probably just going to do a few laps of the airport and then sit by lake Geneva for 6-7 days, marveling at the enduring strength of the Swiss economy. This seems a much more sensible plan than actually riding up mountains, which if you ask me is a fool’s errand.

We managed to get about 65km in today, with 3 laps of the ever-welcoming Richmond Park.

Plus points:

– I am less fat than the majority of riders

– We saw some deer

– It was really sunny

Downsides:

– The majority of fat riders are better at cycling than me

– Forgot to suncream

– Distinct lack of hills

– Alps is more or less all hills

I also attempted to race my ride buddy at one point today. In hindsight this was a poor plan, as she has thighs like oak trees and I have thighs like oak saplings starved of light or food. By the time I met her at our designated finish area, she had ordered and consumed a coffee and some cake and completed the Times crossword. It was only a 200m race.

I’ve also discovered that singing out loud is a good way to get through the miles. Not only does it take your mind off the fact that your legs hurt, but it also makes you look like a lunatic and thus you are given plenty of room. My song for the day was Stonehenge, by Ylvis. Which is one of the greatest songs ever written.

Top tip though, try not to sing ‘And she plays with my balls’ with gusto while a young family drive past with the windows down.

On that note, why not sponsor me/us? It’s cheap, unless you want to give me like 50 quid, in which case think of it as worth the investment. Thanks for all the sponsorship so far, it is much appreciated.

http://www.justgiving.com/mjburton

Have a fine weekend everybody.

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Tossers replaced by arseholes in political earthquake

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has declared a glorious new era in British politics after his shower of arseholes narrowly defeated several bunches of tossers in the European elections.

The European and council elections, which are so important that a) they’re buy one get one free and b) the only people who bothered to vote were the people who have a lot of spare time on their hands on a Thursday and/or are easily led by questionable claims on immigration, were an apparently seismic shift in the British political landscape. Farage promised a political earthquake, which itself was an odd thing to promise given that earthquakes are often, and indeed always, associated with destruction, ruin and death rather than positive change. He duly delivered a tremor which is surely on a par with the legendary Folkestone earthquake of 2007, which caused mild damage to chimney pots and shook a lady’s wardrobe handles.

Seismic.

Seismic.

The charismatic, compared to Cameron, Miliband or a tree, UKIP leader has spent the past two days braying like an aroused donkey, and has now swanned off to Brussels to stare distrustingly at the Polish delegation and complain loudly about how EU is law strangling Britain whilst staying within arm’s reach of the buffet at all times. He is then planning an assault on Westminster – it is unclear whether this will be a political, physical or sexual assault, but Westminster has been advised to start carrying pepper spray and avoid dark alleys.

In other exciting news, voter turnout has been confirmed at a shade over 34%, which is much like one person voting for a threesome while the other two are in the toilet, then them having to go through with it when they get back, and that being absolutely fine.

The other major political parties, and the Lib Dems, have responded in typically sterling fashion to this latest setback by promising to get more in touch with the electorate – even though the electorate have shown that they probably shouldn’t even be touched with a ten foot barge pole. David Cameron has done his best puppy dog eyes before claiming that UKIP was pretty much his idea, and Ed Miliband has tried hard to give the impression that he is human, while Nick Clegg has seemingly taken to permanent weeping and visiting all nine of his voters personally, which has been on the cards for some time now.

So what can we expect in this brave new world? Perhaps the biggest difference to daily life will be that the man who used to use phrases like ‘Johnny Foreigner’ and ‘dirty, untrustworthy, thieving bastard types’ in the pub is now your elected representative, with all the wonderful benefits that will bring. Expect heightened levels of general incompetence coupled with occasional bouts of homophobia.

In Europe, the EU will move from talking about shared values and doing very little, to talking about self interests and doing very little and not letting the Romanian delegate out of sight.

As for the general election next year, who knows. If we believe UKIP, we’ll probably have been overrun by a tidal wave of immigrants and choked to death by bureaucracy this time next year, so it probably won’t matter anyway.

Stupid decision #6,322: Cycling the Alps

You’d have thought I’d have learned not to yes to charity challenges without thinking after the previous travails of Skydiving and Attempting to do running (with obstacles) and then actually doing running (with obstacles).

You would be wrong.

Allow me to paint you a portrait. Picture the scene: It’s a cool inter’s day in a London office. A friend saunters over and enquires, “Do you fancy riding from Geneva to Nice next July?”, to which I respond “What? Yeah, fine.”

Portrait complete. In a couple of months I will be, somehow, undertaking the task of cycling from Geneva, in Switzerland, to Nice, in an entirely different country (which should have been the first warning) in a week. After casually signing up for said adventure, I belatedly decided to look into some crucial factors, like how far it is and if there are any hills. I found this reassuring blurb from the High Alps Challenge website:

The total height gained over the week is a over 11500m !!! Nearly one and a half times Everest from sea level!

Taking in some world famous ascents…

Col de la Colombiere, Col des Aravis, Les Saisies, Cormet de Roseland, Col de l’Iseran, Col du Telegraphe, Col du Galibier, Col de Vars, Cime de la Bonette

Notice the three exclamation marks on the 11500m.

Overall distance is also around 600km. I’ve also looked up some of those ‘world -famous ascents’, and they seem to be famous because only a moron would attempt to ascend them in anything other than a car. One particular favourite is a casual 35km non-stop climb, which I presume will result in me being carried up the hill in a sled of some kind, whimpering.

Allow me to give you an insight into my cycling pedigree. My greatest achievements are:

  1. Owns a reasonably smart bike
  2. Hangs washing on said bike

Which isn’t exactly a Lance Armstrong level of commitment or doping, both of which would help but only one of which is an option due to the fact that performance-enhancing substances aren’t currently available in a soluble, Berocca-like effervescent lozenge.

As such, I’ve had to resort to training. Here’s a brief rundown of my current training regime:

  1. Rode to Southend. Was genuinely overtaken on a small hill by a 74 year old man on a bike from the past. Arrived at destination and had to have a long lie down on a soft rug until legs worked again.
  2. Took the train to Surrey. Attacked the first hill for approx. 100m before stopping, exhausted, shouting “I can taste blood!” to a bemused comrade. Walked up 3 of 5 subsequent hills
  3. Increased cheese and wine intake to increase levels of protein and blot out terrible sense of foreboding.

If you want to picture me cycling, imagine the bit in nature shows where a lion singles out the weakest of the herd – you can spot it immediately and tell that it’s fucked.

Oh dear.

Oh dear.

Also, even if I make the climbs I’m REALLY BAD at descending and so I’m likely to hurl myself off an Alp at some point, looping gracefully through the air like a gazelle in lycra.

And if that isn’t worth donating 5-7 pounds for then I don’t know what is.

As ever, I’m going to ask for your hard-earned dollar at this point. We’re raising cash for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, and between four of us hope to raise about £10,000 for a superb cause.

If you have a few quid to spare for an amazing charity, or you simply enjoy the prospect of me in a lot of pain, you can donate here.

I’ll keep you posted on training and progress ahead of the big event, so stay tuned for what is likely to turn into an increasingly panicked set of posts before I change my name and move to Venezuela to avoid cycling through the Alps.

Because let’s face it, I’m fucked.