When we first went into lockdown I have to admit, the fact I wouldn’t be able to get outside on my bike didn’t really bother me that much. I’m ashamed to say I am 100% a fair weather cyclist.
I’m also a ‘any excuse NOT to’ cyclist. It’s too busy, it’s too windy, it’s too late, it’s getting dark, I can’t find a water bottle, I’ve got a paper cut – all fantastic reasons that have resulted in me jumping on the turbo instead.
And to be honest, when we first got the stay at home message, for me personally, it would have been the most irresponsible move on my part to hit the roads. Guaranteed I would be the one to end up crashing and need an ambulance thus putting unnecessary pressure on the NHS and being front page news of every paper no doubt along with a photo of my sausage legs in Lycra just for good measure.
However. Weathers been inexcusable/great. Daylight never seems to end. And I’ve finished reading my umpteenth book so I’ve been all out of excuses. Out on the roads it’s been.
I started with my usual out and back route. It has no turns other than at the very start but yes, I still go a different way/get it wrong every single time. A road bike on gravel is up there with swimming with sharks I would say. How I manage to still end up on that road is beyond me. Every. Single. Time. But to get used to being outside again I thought best to stick with what I know. I could squeeze 30 miles out of it but I was stuck if I wanted to go further.
I mentioned this to Joe and also about how tough the first half was as it seemed you were always against the wind. ‘And it’s uphill all the way’ he said.
How had I not noticed that?? I would even say to myself how much faster it seemed on the way back and check my splits and plainly see a difference!
That’s it. Time for a new route.
I got a recommendation from someone in the club on a quiet route, most of which I know, near where I grew up. It was about 30 miles again but had options to add to it for when I had my porridge and felt brave.
So off I went (after my usual hour of faffing). It wasn’t long before my first panic set in. In fact, it was bang on 2 miles.
The bridge is (somewhat obviously) on a hill. If I didn’t get straight through I would need to do a hill start on a push bike. Fucccckkkk. Last time I tried that I fell over and bent my handle bars.
I was sweating bucket loads! How am I going to do that?? Think, think, think. I took the cowards way out. I stopped on the flat before it then waited for the light to go green before setting off.
The only thing I’m missing on my bike rides is the basket of flowers on my ha dale bars it appears.
Feeling a little smug I got onto the bridge and cycled over. Mission accomplished. Just 2 miles in.
The route was good. Very quiet for most of it, gorgeous countryside and views. One road I didn’t like so the next couple of times I tried to avoid it. Very unsuccessfully the first time – I just did a loop and ended up back in the exact same spot – but quite well on the fourth time.
My plan was to cycle to a village called Abernyte and head back that way. It was only 4 miles from the turning I had been using so a nice little add on. And you never know, maybe slightly flatter.
I could not have been more wrong. The hill started just a couple of miles in. Slowly at first, just a gentle incline, easing you in. ‘Come this way, it’s gorgeous, oh don’t worry about going up, it’s just a wee bit.’
I was soon changing rings. Yes you read that right. She who has no idea about gears actually changed rings for this one. There was no choice. I had a flashback to a hill in Aberfeldy and my hand was moving before my brain could register what was about to happen. Twisting and turning and in true hill style you were NEVER at the top. Just round this corner? My arse it is. Up you go!
By now it was game on. I wasn’t quitting. If I had got this far (which was probably only about 200m let’s be honest) I was going to the top. Surely it can’t go on that long? I even had images in my head if I did one of those slow motion falls to the side I would have to somehow get back up whilst still on the bike and continue.
I received a lot of sympathetic lols from the cars that passed me – on their way down. They knew what was coming. They knew my fate. I wasn’t anywhere close to the top.
I’m sure I saw a snail go past me at one point.
Just as I was nearing the top another cyclist went past me free wheeling down the hill. Another sympathetic look to add to the bag. The temptation to turn around and join him was high but I resisted. I had the fear that what had taken me half the day to cycle up would only take seconds to cycle down and I would realise it was actually just a bump and not a hill. (It was a hill!)
Back home and my parents had popped round for a garden chat. Restrictions have been lifted and you are allowed members of one household in your garden only. My dads not a fan of cyclists. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t just drive up it.