Epic cycle ride undertaken by unfit, overweight, not middled aged lady

I visited Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos in 2002. One of the things that really struck me about the countries was the indefatigable people, the welcome extended to visitors and the simple joy taken in small pleasures. But, having visited the Museum of the American War in Ho Chi Minh City, seen the 'Danger UXB' signs in Laos and read the good news headline in a paper in Cambodia: ' Deaths from UXBs down to 3 this month. Only 40 maimed.' I was acutely aware of the toll still being taken on the population.

Over the years I have pondered the munitions still there and this year I have finally decided to get off my bottom and do something. So I have, somewhat impetuously and with little regard for my physical fitness, cycling ability or dodgy left knee decided to join the MAG cycle ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Ankor Wat. I will be doing this the first week or so in Feb 2011 and it does involve a couple of days of over 100km in 30 degree heat. Having signed up I have been told that neither a rickshaw nor an electric bikes are options and that doing the distance on my own pedals is expected.

Donation link is further down on the right - I have paid for my own flights and contributed enough to cover living expenses so all money raised from sponsorship will go to MAG.

This is my blog of my progress to get on the road and when I am there - assuming I will be capable of rational thought after a day of unaccustomed exercise.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A week of gains and losses!

Hertford Castle in a rare moment of sun

Well, had another camera malfunction today as I hadn't realised that it was going to be a day where I could go out on the bike so the battery is still flat... but it is now plugged in so new piccies will be on the next one (even if it is just me on the exercise bike :-) But, I have got out today and done Hoddesdon and back via Hertford - not sure how far I have been as speedo No 2 committed hari kari as I was going over a pot hole in Ware and there was a horrible crunching noise as the car up my bottom delivered the coup de grace. Irritatingly I am having to bike through Ware, an old town, with a narrow main street, lots of traffic and rather inconsiderate parking; because the powers that be have closed the tow path at Ware for the next six months. Given that this has resulted in the death of speedo I feel a strongly worded letter of complaint coming on; not quite up to the rioting students but I believe that my point will be made.

Moor Hens before the snow
Apart from today, most of the training this week has been on the exercise bike; including 21 miles on Sunday which is a 1/3 of the distance so woo hoo. Thankfully for my nether regions the Parcelforce postie delivered the gel cover for the exercise bike yesterday. Although apparently with a smirk since he 'had read all about me in the paper and I am going to need more than a gel cover' - the cheek of it!

Getting a little worried about my lack of natural sporting ability and failure to be up to the levels of fitness that the training pack suggests. After a bit of a heart to heart with my archery cycling bud she queried why I was doing this in the first place given my tendency to sloth, lack of enthusiasm for exercise in general and apathy about cycling as a sport (I have only ever seen it as a way of getting around that doesn't stretch my limited parallel  parking skills to the max). One thing that cycling around does give you (besides body parts that could probably crack a walnut - if we break both sets of nutcrackers this Christmas  - but on second thoughts we will get another pair as that would be unsanitary) is time to think. So, after a bit of a muse today I decided to try and put my motivation down on paper,  well cyberspace anyhow. I'm not great with explaining this sort of thing so hopefully it doesn't sound too trite.

The last year has been a difficult one for me personally: my mother has a particularly horrible illness, both me and hubs have had to take serious pay cuts and, well, let's just say I have 'a bit of a personality clash' with someone at work which resulted in me taking time off for stress. I was wallowing a bit about all these maladies and then I thought about the traveling that I have done, the absolute poverty, malnutrition and obstacles to life that I have seen and having to pull in the belts a bit, not giving expensive Christmas pressies and being a bit more careful about how long we have the heating on and such just seemed such a small set of problems to have. In this slightly evangelical mood I did a bit of an internet search, found the MAG cycle ride and pretty much signed up for it there and then. While I may have a bit of a leap then look personality one thing I am generally pretty good at is following anything through no matter how insane I subsequently realise I must have been at the time - so - I will be cycling the distance or will die in the attempt.

I suspect that I will not do anything like this again, particularly since I have recurring fantasies about taking the trusty steed and the exercise bike to scrap merchants and putting them both in the crusher, but I am glad that I am doing this and the amount of support that I have received from so many people has really put a smile on my face and helped put the minor problems into a bit more perspective.

Today I realised that I might not be the only woman with this type of personality; I watched a lady not assisted by her dog, breaking her wooden barge out of the thick ice round her mooring and trying to pilot it through to the lock. After about 10 minutes I had to start pedaling or lose my feet to frostbite but her efforts during this time had moved her about 2 foot closer to the lock but no further from the bank since she couldn't get on the angle because the ice between her and the far bank wasn't cracking. As I left I took one look at her face and I am pretty sure that she is now either moored far closer to London or her barge is sitting on the bottom of the canal.  Either way I suspect that the ax tied to the roof of the barge would have been involved.


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