Coming to the more recent past. Cycling began in November 2010.
Claire put the idea into my head by suggesting Lands End – John O’ Groats was a plan for 2011. The bike was brought out from the shed, dusted off, greased up and off I went. I remembered how to clip in and didn’t fall off – but it was so uncomfortable – and very hard work. One big disadvantage of living at sea level is that all roads go upwards – especially in West Dorset.
I am from the North East and before moving South I was not alone in imagining that the terrain south of the Pennines was flat – no hills. Wrong – West Dorset is very hilly. Not your long drawn out gentle inclines – but long steep stuff – plenty of 20% to choose from down here. So the racing geometry and the high gearing of the old Ribble, that was suitable for the 30 year old racing me needed to be changed. As I mentioned – I’m from the North – so splashing out on a new bike was not for me! So I took it to the local bike shop and had a new drive train put on as low as the frame would take, and the handlebars raised as far as they would go so my riding position was less radical.
This helped and through the winter of 2010/2011 I rode. Venturing a little further each time and getting up steeper and steeper hills as the months went by (though I note from my diary that I couldn’t get up Abbotsbury Hill!)
By Spring I was riding 30 miles comfortably. It was quite a revelation when I went up to Oxford in February 2011 and rode 50 miles – it is so flat up there – I went really fast. At this stage I was relieved I could do this bike thing. Later the same week back in West Dorset I failed to get up Abbotsbury Hill again. In July 2011 I took up the gauntlet laid down by my nephew Ben (aged 20 something) to do the Roseland triathlon. Ben has done amazing stuff on a bike ( like cycling home to Cornwall from Greece and doing John O’ Groats – Lands End ) and he is a proper Cornish surf dude. He can swim and on the triathlon he beat me out of the water. I didn’t see him on the bike ride but apparently I went past him at high speed. He was never going to catch me on the run. Ben’s been busy getting married and travelling so we haven’t had the rematch yet.
My old bike was quite out of place among all the wonderful modern machines on the racks at the triathlon so we decided that I had earned my stripes and we started looking.
Meanwhile Claire had joined in with a larger group of cyclists who were doing a supported LeJog as a charity ride to take place in July 2011. This was too soon for me so LeJog plans were put aside for now. Claire successfully completed LeJog but her feedback on route and miles per day was noted. My focus on any ride is enjoyment so my End 2 End route would not be the shortest and the distance covered each day would be easily achievable leaving time to ‘stand and stare’
What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?