Phew. What a relief. My endless scouring of the weather forecast didn’t do anything to make it read any better so I was absolutely dreading the 15th September. Last year we actually quite enjoyed getting soaked to the skin in the company of a jolly bunch of hardened Cumbrians. It was fun. But the prospect of strong winds on top of the rain was daunting to say the least. Good call, Andy.
The added bonus is we now have time to do a bit more on the bike before the event. Our efforts this summer have been derisory, as evidenced by previous blogs.
Well, ok. Blog.
Here is a description of our training efforts over the August Bank Holiday, with the red letter day looming large on the horizon:
Me (chirpily) “shall we go for a bike ride?” Him “Yes. Good idea! But… erm…. there’ll be loads of traffic, so shall we hike round Lord’s Lott instead?” Me (thoughtfully) “Yes. OK”
Sunday: Me (eagerly) “shall we go for a bike ride?” Him “Yes. Great idea! But ……the wasps are currently winning the battle of the plums. Don’t you think we’d better get them picked before they’re all ruined?” Me (reluctantly) “Yes. OK”
Monday: Me (hopefully) “shall we go for a bike ride?” Him (looking out at glorious sunshine and an enticingly pleasant breeze) “Yes. Brilliant! Although………the weather’s perfect for a sail, and it might be the last chance we get this summer”. Me (envisioning picnic and bottle of wine whilst drifting gently down the Lake) “Oooh yes. OK. Lets.” It was a great weekend. Well, apart from the wasps.
This blog has been milling about in my head and playing on my conscience for four months…. FOUR MONTHS!!! Where did they go? How can it possibly be September already?!
My training for the Rivers Ride began early. As early as April, when I did, at least, go and have a look in the garage and found that, yes, my bike was still there.
In May we were off to bonnie Scotland for a few days and were immediately faced with a dilemma. Remembering all the enticing cycle paths we drove past the last time we were there we had to decide….. do we go in my car, the cabriolet, with the hood down and the radio blaring, or his car …… the ancient landie with the bike rack and no obvious signs of any suspension? Well, what would you do? We took the cabriolet. Of course.
I did actually have a bit of an urge to cycle though so ten minutes of Googling later I came across Tim from Strontian Cycle hire. What a discovery. Couldn’t be more helpful. All he needed was our inside leg measurement and we were sorted. He met us at our holiday cottage on the banks of Loch Shiel.
Next morning dawned, fondly reminiscent of last year’s Rivers Ride. Identical torrential downpours, howling gales, everything. Undeterred we set off to cycle to Loch Moidart, three miles away, where the kids were staying. The landie owner was his usual helpful self. At the least sign of an incline he would yell instructions such as, “Change up!!” or “Top gear NOW!!”
I didn’t like to say, but I honestly hadn’t a clue what he meant. I mean, which gear is top….the one where pedalling is harder or the one where pedalling is easier? And do you “change up” to pedal faster or slower? I have no idea. All I know is if I tweak my thumb the hills get much easier and if I tweak my forefinger I don’t have to pedal so fast on the flat. And any fool can see when a hill is coming up so what more do you need? But, we were on holiday, and I was having such fun, what with the sodden hair plastered across my eyes and the persistent trickle of cold water coursing down the middle of my back, so I just ignored it and carried on, chuckling merrily to myself all the while. The kids fed us then kicked us back out into the storm for a jolly ride back home. So six miles in total and a fun start to our holiday.
Fortunately the next day dawned sunny and warm, so we packed a picnic and set out to explore. All I want to know is, why does every bike not have a lovely, soft, leather Brookes saddle? I had no inkling of the lasting effects of the previous day’s endeavours until my nether regions hit the solid ridge that masqueraded for a seat on Strontian’s best. It was agony. We got as far as the village of Acharacle, with me affecting a lop-sided technique that I’ve yet to see on the Tour de Anywhere, and the frequent change of sides made it rather difficult to maintain a straight trajectory. We did a bit of a tour down to the Loch and out to the end of the village and were back home for coffee.
The next day we did a quick scoot to the village for the morning paper and then rang Tim.
Day 1: Saturday 20 April 2013
Go to garage. Bring out Florence. Inspect dust and cobwebs on Florence. Go and get duster. Return to Florence. Florence has blown over. Pick up Florence and cling on tight. Watch happily as howling gale removes every speck of dust and muck from Florence. Replace Florence in garage. Settle down in front of roaring fire with papers and mug of hot chocolate. Reflect contentedly on my early start to this year’s training for the World’s Best Bike Ride.
Well, a cycle event came right through our village yesterday. What excitement! I went out to see if I could pick up any tips and here’s what I learnt:
1. Male cyclists seem to have muscles on top of their muscles. Don’t know about the women because there didn’t appear to be any!
2. Rain is not good…… not good at all
3. The organisers put out signs saying “POTHOLE”. There were hundreds of ’em!!
4. If there is a Check Point near a pub, it is perfectly de rigour to re-fuel with a pint …. or two.
5. There were NO bikes like Florence…. not even one! Perhaps I should re-think my strategy???
I’m off to rehearse the Check Point manouvres while I give it some thought.