Wet. That was the over-riding (if you'll pardon the pun) theme of this year's London to Cambridge ride. It didn't rain heavily, but did rain steadily from the first rest stop, fourteen miles in, to the end.
Once you're soaked though, it doesn't really matter how much more it rains, and it wasn't cold so it only really meant we had to be a bit more careful on the corners of the downhill bits, in case it was slippery.
We (that's Ian pictured on the right there) took a little longer than last time: around three and a half hours of riding, with another twenty minutes or so of stops. Not too bad, given our lack of training this time. I think we paced ourselves better, as the "killer hill" (about 34 miles in) that was burned into my memory last time wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered; the one two miles previous seemed to have been worst this time.
I haven't totted up all my sponsorship yet, but should comfortably break the £100 barrier, which is good. Of course, it's too late to sponsor me for it, but I'm sure the charity wouldn't mind if you make a donation ;-)
...which is 50 miles long, and wends from London to Cambridge. That's where I'll be on Sunday (presuming I get my bike fixed - I rather worryingly managed to shred the rear tyre on a practice ride last night!) as once again I embark on the London to Cambridge bike ride.
It's all in aid of charity, so if you'd like to help my fundraising efforts in for Breakthrough Breast Cancer then you can sponsor me here.
I didn't get any work done today. Not until this evening at least. I've spent the day watching the terrible events in London unfold.
I did think about blogging about it earlier, but there seemed little point. Anyone reading my blog is bound to have heard about it elsewhere beforehand. And anything I say would just be re-iterating what other have already said. I am surprised at how few fatalities there've been (so far, perhaps). I have been impressed with how well the emergency services have reacted, and generally with how well London seems to be picking itself up and dusting itself down.
It's also interesting how much information and communication I have access to. I first heard about the attacks on IRC, and soon after decamped to the front room in front of the TV. The TV was the best source for facts, as they scale better than websites for disseminating information to lots of people. BBC News 24 seemed to do a more responsible job - reporting which facts were officially confirmed, and pretty clearly marking what was rumour - much better than ITN or Sky News.
Instant messenger meant I could discuss events, and exchange facts and rumours with friends up and down the country, and even abroad; and text messaging meant I could find out that my friend in London was okay, although things will no doubt be a bit strange when she got into work this evening at St. Thomas's Hospital (South of the river, so probably not too involved).
And blogs and digital (or even mobile phone) cameras have provided a less filtered, unofficial, but more real view on events. Tom Reynolds has posted about his day, something I'd been waiting for all day, given his job at the London Ambulance Service. I'm sure there'll be interesting posts from him over the coming days. Via Mike, there's a a detailed report from someone caught in one of the tube explosions. And all day there more and more photos have been appearing in two Flickr photo pools for the explosions.
My thoughts are with the victims and their families.
Naturally, with a title like Touch Me, it was a very hands-on exhibition, with lots of things to play with - well worth a visit.
I'd already read about quite a few of the pieces online, but it was good to experience them "in the flesh". I think that rather than compete with the existing write-ups, I'll just provide links with the odd comment of my own:
To my mind, they weren't the more interesting exhibits...
I finally got to have a go on the laser mobile keyboard that I blogged about ages ago. Although it was quite impressive that you could type on any flat surface, my attempts to type "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" were frustrating. My right hand kept wandering off the home keys, seemingly wanting to come to rest one key left of where it should be, and the lack of tactile feedback made it hard to tell if you'd hit a key or not. With some practice, I was getting more accurate, but I'm not convinced you'd get quick enough to prefer it if a keypad with physical keys and predictive text were available instead.
The Drift Table was a cool coffee table with a little viewport in the centre. Looking through the viewport gave you an aerial view of part of the UK, and you could cause the view to drift across the landscape by pressing on different sides of the table. A little display on the side let you know where abouts you were looking. Frivolous and fun.
My favourite piece was the PainStation. This is a great game; it reminded me of the game in James Bond where Bond and the villain battle it out whilst getting increasing electric shocks. You play Pong while holding your free hand down over a grille. If you miss the ball then your free hand either gets a blast of heat; or whipped with some rubber tubing; or given an electric shock. Rebecca was much better at returning the ball, so I got the majority of the punishments - however, when she got whipped for the first time she took her hand off the grille, and so lost the game! I want one of these for my next party!