Back in April/May last year, when Mud first suggested that he and I also got a new bike each, so that we could go out for family bike rides, I reluctantly agreed. Very reluctantly to be honest, as I hadn’t been on a bike for over 30 years and my last memory of this childhood past time involved sailing over the handlebars, at great speed and landing in an undignified heap, at the feet of a boy I had the biggest crush on. Embarrassment outweighed physical pain at that point but didn’t last long, with the agonizing sensation of knees and elbows scraped almost to the bone by the rough tarmac, soon taking charge and surpassing the mortification factor by a country mile. As far as I can remember, that was the last time I ever rode a push bike, not the fondest memory, I’m sure you will agree.
However, Mud persevered and before long I found myself the proud owner of a rather smart looking Pendleton Brooke bike.
Despite my trepidation, I took to bike riding like a duck to water and by the end of last year, I had covered more miles on my trusty two wheeled steed than any other resident of Mudville and was as reluctant to pack it away for the sub zero/windy/inclement winter months, as I had been to get it in the first place.
Spring seemed to take an age to arrive this year, allowing winter rain and winds to stay which has delayed the restart of my regular bike rides considerably. Say what you like about Lincolnshire but I can assure you that it isn’t as flat as a pancake, as often suggested by non-bike riders, or at least certainly not in our corner. There isn’t a truly flat road in any direction from where we live. No! I can confirm to you that all our local roads are uphill to some degree: some are gentle slopes which go on for what seems like miles and others rival the gradient of Sutton Bank (a Yorkshire landmark known for causing the demise of many a motor vehicle and up which it is strongly recommended, not to take a caravan). Either way, add a head wind into the equation and a bike ride becomes a more challenging event, especially after a winter lay off, when my fitness levels have dropped off somewhat.
That said, I have managed a couple of short bike rides in the last couple of months but only one or two per month, not the three or so per week I had been doing last summer, when I had managed to get up to a round trip distance of 10 miles in one hour (doesn’t sound much but was impressive for me). This last week though, with the weather settled and warm (not over hot), I’ve started my regular cycling again and yesterday morning after dropping the girls at school, I took myself for a slightly longer 4 mile round trip and was delighted to find that I managed the whole distance on the same gears I finished last year on, sloping roads and all.
Victoria Pendleton I’m not, nor ever will be but at this rate, I’ll be back up to 10 miles and counting in no time!