…then over the Chilterns
Our route along the Thames, from source to Barrier, is based on a couple of naive assumptions: that heading downstream will, by and large, be a downhill experience….but let’s pretend the Chiltern Hills aren’t there; that the predominant westerly winds will always be at our backs…..except of course, when it blows from the east (and it did yesterday); that the tandem, after careful preparation and mechanical checks, is unlikely to let us down…..except, of course, when it does, and then almost terminally.
Climbing our first steep hill into the Chilterns, I tried to engage our lowest gear, and the chain jumped the largest rear sprocket and became (almost) irretrievably jammed between wheel and cassette. It took a huge amount of brute force to free it, potentially breaking both spokes and chain, and wrecking the gear hanger….but, fortunately, none of that happened, so plan B was not called into action (ie. how to extract two people and their unserviceable tandem from a remote spot in the hills).
Once over the Chiltern Ridge, it was an exciting descent towards Reading, to be reunited once again with ‘Old Father Thames’, now massively wider than just 50 miles upstream, and in full flow.