Lands End to John O’Groats 1997 Part 3

….Exciting times. Within two weeks of the inaugural ride, The Wattmeister returned to Barnet Odeon sporting a pair of Lusso padded shorts, Shimano touring shoes and a Castelli short-sleeved top. The plunge had not yet been taken to embrace SPD (Shimano Pedal Dynamics) clipped pedals in preference to pedals with toeclips.

It is hard to recall if the ride went better or worse than the first effort, as there was rarely anyone behind The Wattmeister, who had settled effortlessly into the role of the Lantern Rouge. However, a few months of regular outings with the club spawned signs of improvement, and also the birth of a  great sense of freedom and enjoyment.

In March of 1997, a mere three months before our departure date, a longer ride of about 75 miles to Windsor and back was scheduled in the Club Runs Diary. The bullet had to be bitten, as, on Lands End to John O’Groats,  we were expecting to ride 70 miles a day for 14 days carrying all our own luggage.

An elite team departed Barnet Odeon at 8 a.m, MAMILS before the term really existed in the public domain, namely Chris, Deano, Paul, Ray, Rob, Geoff, Eddie and The Wattmeister. I remember it as being a fine, crisp morning with plenty of sunshine. We worked our way out of London via some neat little ‘B’ roads.

After 30 miles or so, butt pain came and went. After 40 miles back ache vanished. After 50 miles The Wattmeister was still with the group. After 60 miles we had lost our way in Northolt.

“I know how to get back”, TW piped up, “follow me!”

An epiphanal moment in one’s life. A graduation from being the group’s anchor over the winter months to someone who could survive and even take responsibility for the group. A portal to higher acceptance.

It was brutal, but we smashed back around the North Circular in the gathering gloom. Once again, the team disbanded approaching East Finchley, leaving Ray and I to finish off with a vulgar sprint to Muswell Hill. A couple of hours later, showered and fed, we chatted on the telephone, (mobiles were not commonplace in 1997), reliving the vicissitudes of the day.

“Good riding Wattmeister, you done well,” commented Ray, “ I think we’ll be ready for LeJOG when the time comes.”…

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