Thursday 9 August 2012

The Sunday Cycle Ride

OK, so I feel as though I have made progress this year.  Starting out the year a little overweight and extremely unfit I decided that this 45 year old needed to do something.  Therefore I invested in a fold-up bike (A little Dahon D7), for me to ride to work from the hotel that I stay in when I work away.  Well, it's only a mile and half, but those first weeks were torture and I needed Gas and Air and a huge recovery from such a short ride. The WeightWatchers diet definitely got my weight down, but the road to fitness was going to take longer.

Now, well 7 months in, 3 stone lighter and regularly riding 20+ miles I feel as though I'm making progress.  To be perfectly honest I'm probably fitter now than I was in my twenties and planning on a 45 mile charity ride in October, it's time to start regular training and get myself prepared.  One such preparation is my religious planning for the Sunday morning ride,  take this weekend for example:-

Saturday night my wife checks the weather forecast for Yorkshire "It's going to be nice tomorrow!" she says to me and thats all the encouragement I need, my cycle ride is on.  My son is home from University so I decide it's a great opportunity to rope him in on my fitness plans, this starts with his question "You're not going to wear those cycling shorts that you have are you ?".  Stupid question, course I am, that's why I bought them so I reply "Yes son, are you coming".  At that point suddenly in five minutes on Saturday Evening he is flooded with demands of for his time, revising, girlfriend, car to wash, home brew to bottle, hoover to fix for his mum, extra sleep, bad leg (if the truth be told he just doesn't want to be seen out with the old man dressed like that).

So Sunday morning I wake, the sun rakes through the bedroom windows even though the curtains are shut the room is bright (the wife was right, it's going to be great).  A sneak downstairs later, a quick light breakfast + taking my wife her's in bed, it's time to start preparations.

First it's up to the Garden Shed to get my bike.  It's still a folder, but it's now a rather nice Dahon Espresso Hybrid, 26" wheels still allowing me to throw it in the boot of my car but allowing me to carry out what others call "A Proper Ride".  I stand it up on the patio ready for the preparations to begin.

2 Sports Drinks prepared and in pannier, helmet in place, cycle computer primed, trainers on,  I'm ready for the off, however, I seem to have lost one of my gloves.  No one has seen it, and this just doesn't bode well. (My wife later tells me I must have lost it, but if I know of a shop that sells left handed ones she's more than happy to buy me a left handed glove to match the right handed one I still own).

Preparations complete, and possibly taking as long as any athlete planning a stage of the Tour de France, I lock the back door quietly, move around the side of the house only to realise that the side gate is still locked.  I then return to the patio, take off my shoes, unlock the house, go inside, find the keys to the gate, so far preparations have taken me over an hour.

So I hit the road, the first five miles just disappear in no time as I head out past the built up areas into the countryside (today I'm gonna do 2 thirds of my charity ride distance so 30 miles is on the cards).  I am now riding from Rothwell to Castleford and stop briefly for a drink, the sun is pounding down and I am glad my preparations included the liberal application of sun cream, my wife's words ringing in my ear "it's going to be a great day".

10 miles into the ride I head south to cross under the M62 motorway and around 1/2 mile from the motorway the most vicious thunderstorm in history hits, I pound away like mad so I can reach and huddle under the underpass with another cyclist as we watch the road gradually flood outside. The downpour only last a few minutes, so it's back on the bike and up through the industrial estate ready to ride in towards wakefield and the rain starts again.

This time there's a bus shelter just ahead with 4 four people from the local riding club who are all crammed in (bikes and all), but we're a friendly lot in Yorkshire and never leave anyone out, so I dive in.  A 6th guy try's to fit in behind me and shouts "Come on shove up, my bikes worth more than your lot together so make room" we all shuffle up.  The riding club admire the beautiful carbon framed bike that has joined us, I only wonder why my Dahon did not earn equal respect when I joined them.  The owner went on to tell us how light it is and how great it is for climbing hills (a very useful thing in Yorkshire).

The rain stops, and in reverse order, Mr Carbon Frame sets off, then me, then the cycling club who pass me by within minutes as we start a steep hill climb.  Then I find myself passing and pulling away from Mr Carbon Frame as I cycle up the hill as fast as possible. I then hear the jeers from the cycling club at the top of the hill shouting at Mr Carbon Frame and telling him of the embarrassment of being beaten by an old guy on a folder, I'm not sure which one of us is insulted the most (and am not sure whether I'm upset for being called old, or, the insult aimed at my trusty bike) but I don't care, the sun is out, I'm over the top and on the downhill stretch heading in to Wakefield.  Just a right turn at the bottom to head in to town and 3 miles or so from there home, but, I've only done an hour of riding (plus half an hour bravely sheltering for the rain to stop) and only 15 miles, so I turn left into the countryside and away from town, I gotta get my 30 miles in.

Mr Carbon Frame's Arch Nemesis - The Dahon Folder

I cut through a couple of villages and then on to the Pennine Trail which I know heads into Wakefield. 3 Miles further on I meet someone and ask how far to Wakefield, he replies "A long time going this way mate, but if you do a 180 degree about face and go back the way you came, it's about 8 miles".  OK, my 30 miles is easily achievable now, I've been riding in the wrong direction for the last ten minutes. Then the rain starts again, this time I'm brave, I put on my waterproof jacket and ride under the trees to Wakefield.

The Pennine Trail is wonderful. Flat paths, straight from Royston to Walton, overhanging trees limiting the soaking I am receiving and hardly anyone else stupid enough to be out in this weather.

As I pass the Walton Golf Club, they comment that they are sure they saw me riding in the Olympics the night before, didn't I take gold? As if an old wheezer like me could manage that, I'd probably get lost there too plus they think I'm crazy out in the rain on a bike, and then realise they are also out in the rain, hitting little balls around a field with big sticks. But then all of sudden it hits me, my fitness better improve before my charity ride, but my map reading needs to have a miraculous improvement otherwise I'm doing a lot more than 45 miles.

Arriving home (3 hours and 33 miles after I left) , I humbly explain to my wife about the rain, the wrong turn, Mr Carbon Frame and how hard it was with no gloves but she simply repeats her offer to buy me a left glove.  Anyone know where I can get one ?

But I did 33 miles, I planned on 30, so it's been a good day (even if I am soaking wet, cold, dressed so embarrassedly) , I wonder how wet Mr Carbon Frame got and whether he's also blogging about the old wheezer on the fold-up that beat him up the hill.

Incidentally, on the Wakefield news, a Tornado Funnel was spotted quite close to where I live just after I got back, it didn't touch the ground but it did look pretty cool, maybe we cyclists are crazy after all.

BTW If you think this is funny and can spare a couple of quid, please feel free to sponsor me (the old wheezer) on my charity ride here.

If you're interested in Dahon bikes, check them out at

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