(actual date of post – 20 August)
Match two – vs Tottenham Hotspur away.
Total mileage 54.9 miles
In terms of the cycling, Spurs away was likely to be a pretty gentle introduction to cycling to away games – though for the team it was a far more daunting prospect for a first game on the road. To be honest, following last week’s performance, I was fearing a hammering.
I was also fearing a drenching when I saw the rain in the morning. I know bad weather will be an inevitable part of the challenge, but I’d hoped to at least avoid it in August. As it was – bar a few spots – the rain held off all afternoon, but more about the weather later.
This was my first away game for five and a half years. I’ve been to White Hart Lane a handful of times, and only once have I seen Spurs lose. That was my first visit, in 1979, when they lost 2-1 to Leeds. (As an aside, that isn’t the only time I’ve seen Spurs play someone other than Palace. In 1987 I saw them beat Scunthorpe 3-2 in the FA Cup 3rd round; I was there again for the 4th round that season when Spurs won far more comfortably against Palace). So, given last week’s performance and my personal record at White Hart Lane, I travelled with neither hope nor expectation. As it was, the Palace performance was far better than last week. There was, however, still no cutting edge (no pressure, then, on new signing Christian Benteke when he comes into the team) and in the end the result was the same: a 1-0 defeat to a late-ish set piece goal.
As for the cycling, the big issue was the strong wind. On the way there (as will be the case a lot on my rides, given the prevailing wind) it was pushing me along, so it was an easy one and a half hours to the ground. On the way back, however, it was headwind all the way and much harder work. No big issue today (and this was hardly new to me from my old commute) but wind like today won’t be so fun on the long rides home from the northern games.
The best thing about today was the opportunity to talk to lots of fans – of both teams – about what I’m doing. These conversations usually started with ‘are you cycling/have you cycled the whole way to the game?’ after which I could explain the full extent of my plans. (My favourite line being ‘When are you setting off for Middlesbrough – Wednesday?’ – ‘er, yes’.) I hope some of the people I spoke to are now reading this (if you are – hi: thanks for taking an interest). Even better, I hope you are inspired to sponsor me and support the wonderful Contact a Family charity.