Thursday 3rd August.
It is about 8 in the morning. The rolling hills of north west Lincolnshire…yes, hills…have been replaced by the broad expanse of the Fens for which the county is best known.
The landscape offers no cover from an unrelenting headwind.
I am a human parachute, but not one sewn from the finest silk, more like offcuts sellotaped together…. a mish mash of unravelling thoughts and worn body parts.
I don’t know it at this time, but in 40 kilometres everything has to come together to get me out of bother.
Logic, charm, patience, skill, memory, communication….they don’t always flow at the best of times.
Pop! A rear spoke snaps in Bunker Hill, near New York, Lincolnshire. Bunker ‘Flipping’ Hill…New York…even the road signs are taking the piss.
Dismounting, I tape the loose spoke safely out of the way with electrical tape (what planning!) and adjust surrounding spokes using the spoke key on the brilliant Topeak Hexus multi-tool so that the wheel runs relatively straight.
Should get me to Spalding…I have a spare, just need the right tools. My God it is windy, a struggle to hold 16 kms per hour. The parachute has metamorphosed into a dried out husk. Must make a quick stop at the convenience store in Gypsey Bridge for nourishment.
Sitting on the wall, smashing jelly beans, coffee and crisps into the raging furnace, a big group cycles past. I have taken my shoes off! Need to get into this group. It’s an opportunity to take some cover but requires a desperate chase to get on. The wind is my enemy, but the crossroads at Langrick are my friend….I hide in the peloton.
We take turns on the front for 15 kms and catch a group of strong Germans…one guy is towing the whole peloton into the hooley….what a superstar. At the control I thank him profusely…he looks bemused.
The mechanic is just leaving the control…he has packed up his tools. Hard luck for me but he is probably as whacked as I am. But, another wonderful volunteer, Vince, has turned up with a comprehensive toolset. I need a chainwhip and cassette lockring tool…YES! he has them….but he is also tired and a bit tetchy and dealing with someone else….and, he has no spanner big enough to turn the lockring tool….but, the chainwhip handle is fitted with exactly the right size hex fitting. I just cannot use both ends at the same time!
I sit on the floor, deflated, aware that something can be done if only I had the wit to think of it. I have the spoke and 99% of the tools, but my brain is fried….Vince softens….he sees my predicament….and suggests that I stick a screwdriver in the back of the cassette to hold it firm instead of using the chainwhip, (while I untighten the lockring with my teeth….no, that last bit really didn’t happen)…. and use the chainwhip handle to loosen the lockring.
Vince, thank you…out of the mental maelstrom we found a solution.