So my attempt to assess my fitness for a sizeable ride wasn’t entirely successful. The plan was to get to the park and slowly wind up the speed to a level that felt strenuous but sustainable, then see if it really was sustainable by going for as long as I could. Well, I could have kept going for hours, but I can’t honestly say I got up to a strenuous speed.
The postie arrived just before one o’clock, which rather cut down on my chances of getting several hours of riding in before getting home in time for the Vuelta coverage. Still, no sooner had he arrived than I'd installed my new pump and puncture gear and set off for Bushy Park. It was 24 degrees, bright and sunny, and the biggest, most impressively-antlered deer had come out to stand alongside the paths and cheer me on like hairy, flyblown spectators.
I like to think of Bushy Park’s cinder pathways as the strade bianche of south-west London. They make a really satisfying crunching noise beneath your tyres that more than compensates for the need to corner a little more carefully. Sadly, they also have a number of potholes, and the second I hit one, my saddle took a sudden skyward lurch.
I spent yesterday tightening brakes and oiling chains, but I hadn’t even looked at the saddle bolt. There’s no reason for it to be loose, it hasn’t been touched in months, but loose it was. Of course, I had a multi-spanner tucked away, but of the five cut-outs, not one of them fitted the bolt. Not to be dissuaded, I rode for the next two hours anyway, but every lump and bump rocked my saddle, and every smooth patch of tarmac was spent reaching backwards to wrench the saddle back into position. At times the paths were so lumpy that I ended up mountain biking over them, bum off the saddle, knees as shock absorbers, rather than risk having the saddle come completely off. In those circumstances, going hard was out of the question, so I ended up doing a sedately paced fifteen miles.
Oh well. Sagan’s just won his second stage of the Vuelta, and I’m heading out to see if I can find a spanner that fits. Watch this space, I’m going to try again tomorrow.