A Dog, a Cat (or not) and an Octopus

Anyone familiar with popular psychology may have heard of the story of Pavlov’s Dogs. Unlike Schrodinger’s cat (or like Schrodinger’s cat maybe?) Pavlov’s dogs were quite real and not part of a physicist’s thought experiment. Pavlov noticed that his dogs began to salivate in the presence of the technician who normally fed them, rather than simply salivating in the presence of food. To test this further Pavlov presented a stimulus (e.g. the sound of a metronome) and then gave the dog food; after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the sound of the metronome, a phenomenon that has become known as Pavlov Conditioning. This is analogous to my relationship to my riding partner (who I shall refer to as Jonny Legsmash), with whom I’ve ridden many an epic route with to the point now whenever I see him my thighs automatically start to hurt and within a couple of minutes I’m rolling around on the floor screaming “It burns, it burns, someone please make it stop”

One evening after work I met up with Jonny for Pre-Christmas drinks. After 10 minutes of rolling around on the floor of the pub screaming “It burns, it burns, someone please make it stop” I’d pulled myself together and we got down to discussing our plans over Christmas. Very quickly we decided that riding the ‘Christmas Octopus’ sounded like an excellent idea, although we were probably more sold on how it sounded whilst ignoring the reality of what it actually meant to complete the ride, but nevertheless a date was set.

“What is the Octopus?” I hear you cry. Well funnily enough the Leith Hill Octopus Challenge is certainly something that will indeed make you cry. Leith Hill is a bit of an iconic road climb and MTB mecca of the North Downs. There are many routes up Leith Hill and most often exceeding 12% gradient. And so the goal of this insane bit of, err cycle-ry is to summit Leith Hill via eight different but specific routes, finishing at the top at the end of the eighth climb. The total distance? About 100km and with almost 2000m of ascent. And there you have it, eight routes, eight legs, 100km, 2000meters of climbing…you get the idea. That’s a pretty good day out in the Alps! And so the adventure awaits…