This is the month when I thought I would get to the home straight. The 11th round. The weather was good – mild, sunny often – but it’s not over. Not by a long shot. I tried some city rides at the start of the month to build up the miles, cycling from home over Blackheath to the new Brockley Market. Managed to squeeze my cycle shorts under my skinny jeans, remember my hefty D-lock, and saddle up. A typical grey Autumn day, but without the metal edge of winter; Greenwich and Blackheath were softened by piles of damp leaves, and as it’s Saturday, tons of children kicking through them. After the market, I realise my back tyre has several large bald spots, where I’ve worn the rubber down to the bone of the construction.
The next day is an absolutely perfect example of Autumn. Yellow leaves and black tarmac, woodsmoke floating through the branches, shot through with gentle sunlight. I loop out from Dartford, through Darenth and Meopham and Culverston Green.
The Kent countryside feels like a forgotten world – little villages, low stone walls with rooks flying over, partridges in the fields. It’s a great route, particularly a blast down Speedgate hill.
And then work kicks in – we launched our biggest project of the year – and the day after, it’s as if something in body remembers I am exhausted. I get a heavy cold, and my chest feels like it’s been cracked with baseball bats, and I spend the best part of two weeks in bed, having early nights, dosed up on Lemsip, echinacea, paracetamol. There are no more miles and the reason I am late writing this is, frankly, I was worried what the total was going to be. And, in fairness, 136 isn’t too bad. It leaves me with less than 200 to do in December. The only problem is that the cold carries over, and then I’m going to be involved in more time sucking work stuff. I’m going to essentially have two weeks to get it done.
Still, I’ve done that kind of mileage before. I can do it again. If I have learned anything this year it is that distance is no obstacle. It’s not to be feared. It is to be worked with. The longer the journey, the more satisfying the arrival.
Total miles: 136
Total to cycle: 196 miles.