Archive of July 2011

July 31

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

For my first ever post on my first ever blog I offer an account of one of my early tandem rides after work one night last winter with my partner. In tandem parlance, the person on the front is often known as the Captain whilst the rear rider is the stoker. I kid you not! Oh and our tandem is called “Daisy”.
Perhaps it will give you a little flavour of who we are!

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Captain and stoker often go out on a Thursday evening for a meal somewhere. stoker was finishing work a little earlier than usual so it made sense.
“I don’t think I’ve ever cycled more than ten miles in one go yet” said Stoker foolishly.
“ok then,” says Captain Marvelous, as she secretly and not a little ironically thinks of him, “you choose somewhere around six miles away and then we will have done twelve miles.”
It sounded so reasonable; especially when he added that they could just stop anywhere along the route when they felt hungry enough or saw somewhere they liked the look of.
“What a good idea!”

Stoker dismally failed to find a website that was accessible to someone using screen-reading software to determine locations 6 miles from home. so with the help of her friend and a piece of string, roughly estimated from a map that Wimbledon was a good choice.

Captain was thrilled.
He looked up a good cycle route and off they went. All went well at first, and they found lots of quiet roads to cycle along. An exciting adventure in the pitch dark crossing Tooting Common was great fun. There was a sign saying cyclists dismount at the entrance so they did, but then got on again to cycle across the paths, neither being quite sure if that was alright or not.
After that things got a bit confusing at times.
At one point stoker was sure they had just cycled a huge loop and ended up just a few yards further up the road. Captain denied this of course.
It didn’t matter. They were enjoying themselves on a mild and dry evening.
When nearly an hour was up stoker realized they were near a little French café they had been to before between Balham and Tooting.
But captain was reluctant. It wasn’t Wimbledon.
“But you said we could stop anywhere. We have been going an hour.”
“Well we’ve passed it now.”
“But only just!”
“Well I didn’t like it anyway.”

On they went through the wonderful Indian restaurants of tooting. Glorious smells infused the air.
But it wasn’t Wimbledon!
There were several incidents along the way which all helped to pass the time.
The chain came off twice, once, embarrassingly just as they were proudly overtaking another cyclist… not something the intrepid fifty –somethings often find themselves doing!
And then there were the young men at the traffic lights who looked like they might just leap out in front of Daisy despite her having the green light.
“Ring ring!” went Captain on his marvelous double ring bell.
“Ring ring!”
“You’re joking aren’t you?” one youth called as they passed. “You think we wouldn’t see you!”
Obviously this referred to the high level of high vis clothing the pair were wearing, the two bright flashing lights on the bike at the front and the flashing light on captain’s helmet, making him look rather like a demented miner, or as it has been suggested when seen in all his cycle clobber, a little like the monster from the black lagoon.
Stoker knew that this accolade from the young men would make captain very proud. And secretly she was too to have such a safety conscious captain.
Romantic feelings flooded her heart until she realized the time.
“Darling, we have been cycling for an hour and a half nearly and we are both hungry so let’s stop.”
And as luck would have it they had just passed the sign for the borough of Wimbledon so captain was prepared to compromise and look for somewhere to eat.
First place was declared “a terrible dive”.
Second place”, TV blaring”.
Third place “just shut”.
“Lets go back and eat at one of the Indians,”
Stoker suggested rather desperately.
“They all looked terribly full”.
“All of them? Are you sure?”
A mild skirmish of an argument ensued but Stoker agreed to carry on further even though ahead did not look very promising.
Within a few hundred yards that was an understatement! Surely one of the busiest gyratory systems in London appeared from nowhere.
“Oh I'm so sorry”, Said Captain. “I didn’t realize. I’m so sorry.”
He wasn’t sure what stoker replied but by this time they had no option.
On they pressed and having survived the traffic madness, finally an hour and three quarters later they locked Daisy to some railings on Wimbledon high street.

To cut a long story short, they had an overpriced meal, and more direct and uneventful ride home which found them opening their front gate at 12.35am.
The odometer said the journey back was 10.8miles and so having gone the long way round on the way they must have cycled around twenty three miles or so.
“"Well you did want to do more than ten miles didn’t you?” Captain Marvelous bravely enquired as they stumbled into bed. “And it was fun wasn’t it? “
And actually, Stoker had to admit that it was.

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