‘Lincolnshire is flat’, is a statement I’ve heard any number of times over the years and, to be fair, it’s a view that I’ve subscribed to in some degree for much of the past 12 years or so. On the face of it, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a pretty accurate way to describe the vast majority of the landscape and that although there are some hills about, these are few and far between….. hardly worth mentioning. Well after nearly 8 weeks and just under 90 miles of cycling, I can tell you that Lincolnshire is not flat and I have the aching leg muscles to prove it!
The number of times over the last few years I’ve muttered and mumbled at the slow pace of cyclists, as I’ve passed them in a car, thinking that it they can’t go any faster then they really shouldn’t be on the roads ….. well I wholeheartedly apologise, I now know exactly what you were going through.
My first trip to the shop in the next village (only 1 mile) was an eye opener. Even in the lowest gear range, I struggled and very nearly gave up. You see what you don’t notice in a car is that the main road is uphill all the way and even the road from our house that leads to the main road is quite a steep gradient which is fine on the way out (downhill, no effort, easy as pie) but not so fine on the way back (uphill, a very steep hill). The positioning of this particular road also lends itself to being a natural wind tunnel, with the direction, more times than not, being against the uphill cyclist.
However I have persevered, cycling two or three times a week, plus the family bike ride, and have now reached the heady heights of 6 miles per trip, in mid range gears. Well okay, I won’t be cycling any marathons for a while but for someone who hadn’t been on a bike for 30 years or more, I figure this is pretty good going. We do tend to go a little further on a family ride but in terms of getting my fitness up, these solo rides, where I am building up my strength and stamina in stages, are ideal.
Today I opted for a slightly different approach and decided to climb up one of the incredibly steep local hills (pushing the bike after the first couple of hundred metres), stopping part way up to take some pictures to prove there are hills in Lincolnshire and then cycle along the road that runs along the top of the valley wall. In the past, the climb itself would have taken me about 20-25 minutes but today I completed it in 10, with minimal recovery time and was able to start the bike ride proper almost immediately, a fact that really boosted my confidence. All this hard work is paying off.
Of course, the problem with climbing up the hill was that, at some point I would have to come back down an equally steep hill to rejoin the main road.
We had done a similar trip as a family just a couple of weeks ago and Mud had made much of the fact that he and Middle Mudlet had ridden down this particular hill, whilst Little Mudlet and I had walked down. In fact in the post he had written about that bike ride he had stated ( and this is a cut and paste quote):
My wife and youngest daughter whimped out and chose to play safe, dismount and walk down.
I was not entirely happy with this statement. Little Mudlet has only been off stabilisers for about 6 months or so and to her, this hill was huge, steep and pretty scary. She had tried to ride sections of it but wasn’t really happy and so she opted to get off and walk down. Mud and Middle Mudlet had disappeared into the distance by this point, leaving me little choice but to get off and walk down with her. Not exactly what I regard as whimping out!
So this morning I had a point to prove when I got to the hill and thoroughly enjoyed riding back down through the trees ……
I followed the main road back home, exhausted but exhilarated and collapsed in a heap with a coffee and another 6.4 miles under my belt …….. which, incidentally, I need to take in another notch or two.