After my spectacular fall I was far more chatty to new people than usual. Rather than be embarrassing it was quite liberating. It was a great way to start chatting to people and I heard some great tales of the 'my first tumble' variety.
I also got to chat to a few ladies. Fairly usual you say but I say no. These were all ladies who love to cycle, do so regularly and we were all on the same wavelength. One was the lovely Liz who I got chatting to because I've seen her on my commute. We had a lovely time gossiping about the Uxbridge Road and the Ealing area as we pootled through London.
I chatted to various other people as we went through Clapham and made our way out to the country. Part of what I love about the FNRttC is that it's perfectly acceptable to pootle along and chat as you go but it's equally acceptable to steam ahead for some alone time. As someone said, you can be as sociable as you like. We got the usual jeers and cheers going through Tooting with a couple of enterprising lads attempting to run alongside the pack and we had a policeman call us 'very brave' for going through Epsom at club chucking out time.
The lights started to get farther apart and the riders got more spread out as we approached the M25. I was glad to have my energy drink with me. It tasted of squash made wth sea water but I didn't get cramp this time and my muscles felt a lot less battered. A2 and I stick together for some of the time but he's a fast rider and I assured him I didn't mind if he wanted to go to the front. We stopped outside London and it was suddenly cold. My arm warmers were put to good use and didn't come off again. I also pulled up my bright yellow Primark knee socks. At £1.50 they were £18 cheaper than the leg warmers I nearly bought and my God they were toasty! I ate my tasty cereal and energy bars and was relieved I'd packed a much smaller pannier this time. I also left my very heavy D-Lock in London.
The moon was almost full and Venus was bright beside it, I can't actually describe how beautiful it was as we sailed through the night. We went up hills and down and I was only caught out once. A2 had a puncture and had waved me on saying he would catch up (he did, the bastard) and I ended up cycling with the lovely Wowbagger. He's a pootler and chatted away until we hit a nasty and unexpected incline (17% apparently). I hadn't changed down fast enough and rather than put Reg's chain under strain I got off and walked 20 yards.
I was starting to flag and it was to my great relief that I called out 'I hope we're near the caf!' to a rolling wayfinder only to have him reply 'It's 10 yards away!'
Why does no one tell you that an egg sandwich and hot, sweet tea cure everything? We descended upon a truckers' cafe that had been forewarned of our apearance, and enjoyed a sit down in the warm and some well-earned food. The ladies also peed. Why is it that the boys always have to go several times en route whereas every lady managed to wait until the halfway point and then wait for Bognor? Sometimes I think they just pee behind trees because they can.
Soon the leader called the five minute warning and we stepped out into a suddenly freezing car park. We saddled up, went round the roundabout to wait for the last people and we were on again......