January 31st 2010 The Canal Trip

I’m in training – and it’s not going to plan!!!

It was a poignant moment of beauty.  The sun was glistening in the sky, the light was refracting through the water above me, streams of air bubbles sped passed racing toward the blue sky above – but something was not right, in fact something was very very wrong. 

I back tracked on my day – I’d had breakfast in bed (thank you Lesley), I’d watched Andy Murray for the first 2 sets (sorry Andy), I’d got up, washed, put on my jeans, T shirt and a couple of jumpers, donned my reflective jacket and left home to cycle to Berkhamstead to meet Lesley and some friends for lunch at about 12.30.  I remember being surprised at just how muddy I was getting and the voices in my head were wrestling with what I would say to the restaurant owner.  I remember trying to pass a cyclist on the canal path, I remember ice, I remember the front wheel slipping from under me and then I remember the glistening in the sky and the light refracting through the icy cold water as it closed over me.

I swam to the edge of the canal to the shouts of “Help me get him out”.  The cyclist and I struggled to get me out but with a 2 foot drop it was not easy and I went back in twice.  Then some walkers came to help.  It wasn’t as cold as you think.  One of the walkers was a very bossy lady and told me to get somebody to pick me up as I was in Kings Langley as Berkhamstead was another 40 mins away.  Having swallowed copious amounts of canal water and feeling more stupid than normal I was in no mood to argue.  I called Lesley – phew, the phone was still working.  I could barely hear her as my ears were still full of water.  She was in Berkhamstead.  The bike hadn’t gone in and I was half tempted to carry on.  Lesley said she would turn for home and get some dry clothes. 

I put the phone down and the bossy woman and the walkers set upon me using words like hypothermia blah blah.  I called Lesley again and asked her to pick me up at The Old Red Lion in Kings Langley.  I composed myself, got on my bike and headed for the pub.  I passed the bossy lady again who was chatting to a couple of cycling friends.  “Oooo” said one of them “You must be cold”.  Yer – like I was going to admit that.  “Oooo, you weren’t wearing a helmet” said the other.  “Helmet” I retorted “That wouldn’t have helped – it’s water wings that I needed”.

So I waited at The Old Red Lion but no Lesley.  I call and she’s on the way home, which was not my plan.  I thought she would pick me up on the way.  The conversation was confused not helped by the me still having water in my ears.  She was stuck in traffic about 3 miles from home but she had some old clothes in the car and my cycle shorts so she turned round to get me.  We were now going to be late for our friends who were at the Eat Fish restaurant in Berkhamstead – very good by the way.  I cycled back to Kings Langley High Street and we met at a bus stop.  I’m soaking – still dripping, but good fortune smiled on me, the launderette was open. 

Ignoring Lesley’s protests I went in.  There were 2 women and a couple – and a sign warning that cameras were recording.  I explained my dilemma and asked them all to turn away whilst I changed – and not to look in the reflection on the glass doors.  Lesley’s embarrassment was compounded as I enacted the Levi ad and started singing Heard it Through the Grape Vine”.  Then another lady walked in and I had to re-explain my dilemma. 

So there I am, standing in Kings Langley High Street in Lesley’s sweat shirt, my spandex cycle shorts. white sports socks and my black brogue golf shoes.  Sex on legs.  We sling the bike in the back of the car and head for Sainsbury’s to buy trousers.  It dawns on me my new glasses are missing.  “Bless my sole” – or words to that effect. 

Did you know that the Sainsbury’s in Apsley only sells ladies and children’s clothes.  It turns out I’m a”12” in ladies stretch jeans, but Lesley made me get the 14 as the 12 was just too clingy – bit of a camel hump rather than toe.  She was none too happy as I took the trousers from the checkout girl and proceeded to put them on there and then.  The older I get the less I care.

Lunch was a little later than planned and they were very nice in the restaurant.  The owner changed my chair as it was coming apart commenting that I had probably had enough misfortune for the day.  I’m not sure how much water I swallowed but when I had a pee between courses I noticed 2 old boots and a shopping trolley in the pan.  Then I just waited for my organs to go into complete meltdown – that canal water is a full bodied number – good for you ladies who might be dieting.  Lesley keeps asking me what that squeaky bubbly noise is.  “The after effects of canal water” I reply.

Anyway all that aside – I went out on Saturday on Krys’s road bike and Sunday on mine and not one puncture – now there’s a result!!  Lesley reckons it’s all good experience for my Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJO’G) solo charity run in July, but frankly I can think of better ways to train.

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About marmiteman

Marmite man will be cycling 1000 miles over 10 days from Land's End to John O'Groats raising money for Mark Carey. My wife Lesley & grandsons Jake, Callum and Dylan and their Auntie Vicky are the support crew - not that they will be around during the day!
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