Saturday, 1 February 2014


I entered the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100. I said, I entered the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100. Quite a curious appellation, that: a fairly strange moniker to attach to something. I doubt those who marshal it perceive it to be so. We live in a time of weird names, but didn’t we always?
I was reading The A303: Highway to the Sun by Tom Fort the other day, and he cited evidence that suggests this inclination is not some modish fad. He recounts of how, during the Seventeenth Century, it was common practice in Wiltshire to flood meadows seasonally, during the ‘hungry gap’ when fields had yielded the last of their hay and before the winter set in. This would be in November, and the idea was to protect what remained of the grass from frost, which would encourage more virile growth come the spring. The process was augmented by the nature of the nutrient-rich chalk stream water with which the fields were inundated, although nobody knew this at the time.
The person who oversaw all of this was called the FloodStream-Meadow Inducer. No he wasn’t: he was called The Drowner, and it was a job of some responsibility and much discernment and skill. He might have been more appropriately called The Flooder, but he wasn’t: he was called The Drowner.
There are other examples in Tom Fort’s publication that might better illustrate my point, but I like this one. I approve of it, even, but maybe I have distracted myself - and you - from the point. Weird names are fine, but I suspect I’m alluding to Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 almost reprovingly.
I do and I don’t. Forget the introductory ‘Prudential’ – we all know what that’s doing there (it’s the name of the event’s sponsor in case you really don’t) – and instead cogitate on the RideLondon-Surrey component. See how the words ‘Ride’ and ‘London’ have been appended, and then Surrey attached to this newly formed compound by means of a hyphen, creating some sort of double compound – a compound-compound, if you will. It is patent nonsense but too banal to offer any humours compensation. The term’s origins lie not in surrealism or absurdity, but in corporate waffle-speak. RideLondon-Surrey: Ride (on a bike out of) London (and then into) Surrey. One wonders why they even bothered with the hyphen; would not RideLondonSurrey 100 have sufficed? Indeed, the route of this 100 mile cycle ride takes one back into London after its Surrey based excursion, which suggests RideLondonSurreyLondon 100 as a more appropriate title still.
Anyway, I entered this thing on a whim and did not expect – not for one single minute – to find myself granted entry. I was, which is both exciting and ominous in fairly equal measure. To deal with the ominousness (an aurally frustrating noun form if I ever heard one – couldn’t we have settled for, say, ominousicity instead?) I decreed that I would need to buy a carbon based bicycle to cope with those full hundred miles. The distance is not so much the thing – it is the time spared to ride it. If I were allowed to stop for lunch, and then maybe afternoon tea, I think it could be done on steel. But, later in the day, real professional riders will ride mainly the same route, so us amateur cyclists need to be well clear within something like eight hours of starting. I actually aspire to finish the course in six and a half, but the point is I don’t think I could maintain the required pace over that long a period on steel.
So here we go: AnAppropriateBicyleAgain (see how the Love ‘Andmoreagain’ reference brings us back to that whole RideLondon thing).


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