Maybe the endorphins began to kick in prematurely, but at some point soon after this ignominy, the suffering evolved into an almost pleasurable and noble pursuit.
After returning to the safe haven of Barnet Odeon with about 30 miles on the clock, the rest of the club went their separate ways leaving Ray and I to take stock of the situation. “The Real Deal”, a natural sportsman, already had far more cycling experience than The Wattmeister, being a regular cycle commuter in the days when there were very few of the species, and in addition, having previously completed the Coast to Coast ride from Seascale on the west shore to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east shore.
“You need to get some gear” said Ray, who naturally already had all the gear. “For a start, get rid of the woollen scarf and plimsolls, you look a right plonker!”, he added as kindly as possible.
And so, the odyssey began. The contents of numerous cycling magazines were devoured. A new language had to be learned with its own jargon. Gear inches, chainrings, cassettes, freewheels, STI levers, downtube levers, side-pull brakes are just some of the examples of component parts of the bikes, but then there were brand names to absorb, like Shimano, Campagnolo, Weinmann, Mavic, Dawes, Roberts and so on.