Herne Hill to Cork
The next adventure. I was up at 5:00 am to shower and finish packing before the taxi arrived at the anticipated 6:00. I am always a nervous traveller, and I was anxious that the car I’d booked wouldn’t come, or that Addison Lee would send a Mercedes or some kind of limo rather than the people-carrier which was necessary to carry my bike as well as my person. And my fears were justified, because at 05:55 I got a text from Addison Lee to say that they were exceptionally busy, and my car would be allocated within 15 minutes. Nothing about when it would arrive—just that it would be allocated.
I waited until 6:15 and called them to learn that they might have allocated a car by 6:30. Yikes! I rather bad-temperedly cancelled the booking and installed the Gett app on my phone. This is the one that allows you to call a black cab. It’s utterly brilliant and I don’t know why I haven’t used it before. Within four minutes the charming Anthony had picked me up and we raced away to LHR T2. He took a brilliant route and we had a good chat about (obviously) Addison Lee, Anthony Joshua, cyclists and everything else under the sun. We left Herne Hill at 6:20 and were at Heathrow by 7:10. Fantastic.
I was really disappointed by Addison Lee! Some time ago daughter Kirsty introduced me to Not3s’s breakthrough song titled (rather improbably) Addison Lee. In rapping the company’s praises, Mr Not3s notes that Yeah I could’ve got an Uber/It might’ve been there sooner/It might’ve been way cheaper. He was dead right, and today Addison Lee were far from a peng ting.
Having arrived at Heathrow the next step was to check in and get my bike on the plane. I have never travelled by air with a bike before, so I was worried that (i) they wouldn’t take it; (ii) I’d never see it again; or (iii) it would be irreparably damaged by the baggage handlers. Even if the bike were superficially OK once it got to Cork, I was worried that the disc brake rotors would be bent, or the brake fluid would have leaked, or that the rear derailleur would be knocked out of shape.
Well, Aer Lingus were happy to take the bike, so that was good, and I did meet up with it again at Cork Airport (where Van Morrison’s Real Real Gone was playing over the PA). From there it was a short walk to the Cork Airport Hotel, where we were meeting to register, re-build our bikes, have dinner, and write our blogs. Bike assembly was fairly painless. Nothing was broken, although the front brake rubbed a bit and I have lost a retaining clip that keeps the front brake pads in place should a screw come undone. I fixed the brake rub, and I can keep an eye on the screw as I ride, so that won’t be a problem. I think I may have to re-index the gears, but let’s see how that goes.
We were also issued with our MizMal cycling jerseys, which we shall wear with trepidation tomorrow and with pride (I hope) in a week’s time.
And then to dinner. I had a portentous bottle of Howling Gale Irish Pale Ale and then soup and chicken. During the meal Paul Kennedy patiently explained how we are to meet for breakfast at 07:00 tomorrow, get our bags loaded, and then drive for over an hour to Mizen Head. Highlights will then include Fastnet Rock, Bantry Bay, Molls Gap, Black Valley, the Gap of Dunloe, and Kate Kearney’s Cottage. We cycle eighty four miles, starting at about 10:30 and finishing (probably) about 19:30. Watch this space. I can’t wait.