Groupon is a relatively new experience for moi but it's something I've taken to like the proverbial duck to water. In lieu of having much dosh or being in a position to acquire expensive shit, experience is the number one commodity in these ongoing austere times. And one in which Groupon, my internet chums, are the chief resellers of. This elite bunch do a cracking job of convincing you that if you don't go on a hovercraft ride with its gargantuan 65% discount, then you aren't any kind of human being worth their salt. It's amazing. They offer everything - waxing, Ugg boots, clay pigeon shooting - if you wanna do it, they'll sell it at a very attractive looking price. I've totally fallen under their spell.
It wasn't surprising then that I signed myself and some erstwhile comrades up for the St Crispin's Day Night Bike Ride earlier in the year after seeing a deal on the site. The idea was to cycle 100 miles around London with a bunch of other chumps and take in the sights of the capital at night while simultaneously nailing some sort of physical test of endurance. With it's juicy 54% discount tied round it like some sort of money zapping bow, the whole thing seemed too good an opportunity to pass up.
The organisers of the route put it thusly...
|Intense prep for the ride|
The evening was a total fucking grueller - We turned up at the Thames barrier to be confronted by a load of cunts in cycling gear all looking horrendously prepared. Then we set off into the London night on a route taking us past every rammed night spot in the capital. Not only were fucked up Halloween revellers out to get us, but every bus, truck and taxi seemed intent on ignoring this mob of cyclists or at least chopping us up or taking us out. Not surprising. If I was in a car and saw some smug lycra wearing National Trust members riding a tandem, I'd find the urge to mow them down irresistible.
As we left the city behind us and the route became increasingly countrified, two things became increasingly obvious. It was colder than it had ever been before in the history of mankind - and riding like this is a very solitary, lonely experience. Despite being (sometimes) surrounded by other riders, you're concentrating on maintaining a certain amount of pace, not getting lost and not falling off or nodding off - so my chat was minimal. As the race went on, the roads became increasingly desolate and my banter disintegrated into whines, grunts and snorts.It felt like I was staring into what was left of my very soul.
|Drunk at the start|
|Eating the energy|
|16 miles in - already sober and fed up|
|Dawn - shall we go a bit further?|
|90 minute queue for microwavable curry|
|It's fucking cold|
|The gourmet extravaganza|
|Hometime - fuck you St Crispin|
|10.30 am debrief in 'the office'|
|The best thing to happen in hours|