Today I went out for a bike ride with my girlfriend*, so she could have a go on the bike I got her for Christmas. Against my advice she put the saddle way down so she could put her feet on the ground, and I suppose if that’s what it takes for her to get riding then so be it. I will keep on at her about it though. This morning was our one chance to get out as the weather for the rest of the week is forecast to be rather lousy.
I’d intended for us to ride out along the old railway line to Derrington, but she wasn’t keen as it seemed rather a long way. Instead she chose a lane she’s used to walking with her parents. Note: walking. It was pretty hilly, even just riding a mile we went up and down at least three pretty steep hills, and I wasn’t too happy about being on a hedge lined single lane road with blind spots everywhere. She had to get off and walk the hills – well if you will put your saddle that low and choose such a difficult route! Over the motorway we went and when we reached the top there was a rather pleasing view of the north west end of town, the castle, and the rolling fields beside it.
We rode back, mainly downhill but with a couple of climbs. Safe to say neither of us is going to be crowned King of the Mointains any time soon, though I was quite pleased that I wasn’t struggling too much. I turned into an empty little car park and we circled round, and I told her to practise riding as slow as she could to get her balance. We wheeled round for a few minutes and then got back on the main road back to her house. There’s rather a steep hill and since I no longer had to worry about watching for cars I said I’d see her at the top and pressed on. No trouble at all, I reached the top without even getting out of the saddle, then waited for her to catch up on foot. “See how easy it is when your saddle’s at the right height?” I said with the hint of a raised eyebrow.
We free-wheeled back down her road, me on the road, her on the pavement, and I couldn’t help yelling “Slowcoach!” as I whizzed round the outside of her. Despite all my joshing she seemed to enjoy her ride and was very happy with the bike. Hopefully we’ll have plenty more rides to look forward to, though I think she will need some encouragement to use roads rather than pavement. We’ve already talked about hiring a tandem on our annual trip to Stratford on Avon in July (this was long before I bought my bike) so that’s something to look forward to.
I rode back through town via the hairdressers, I was expecting to make an appointment but he sorted me out there and then. Kevin’s into cars and mechanical things and last time he cut my hair I was still doing up the bike, and he said next time he saw me he’d like to see me ride in on it, and sure enough there I was locking it up outside his shop. He went out for a quick once over and he liked the look of it. I got him to leave it a little longer on top than normal, as it feels like the weather’s about to make a long-overdue turn towards somewhat colder temperatures.
I then popped into Caffe Nero, and sat down to read the paper in full view of the bike stand outside. I usually keep it in sight so I can keep an eye on my pride and joy but today I was just watching cyclists come and go, dozens of them turning up, locking up, unlocking, departing. I was only there a few minutes but I seemed to see so many come and go. I spotted some handlebars poking out above a wall that caught my attention (there’s a big flower bed in amongst the bike racks that obscures half of it from the cafe) and when I popped out for a cigarette and a closer look, sure enough here’s what I saw:
Those tell-tale handlebars, it could only be a rod-braked roadster! A Raleigh from probably the 1950s in pretty decent if well-used condition, complete with chaincase, rear dyno hub and lights, supplied by a local bike charity called Back2Bikes. It was rather an exciting sight, although for once my bike wasn’t the one on the rack I most wanted to ride home on…
I rode over eight miles today, and my Odometer ticked past 50 on the way to my girlfriend’s house. I really didn’t feel the slightest bit tired, and I can feel my confidence growing all the time, and skills developing such as weaving through pedestrians on the high street. My one problem is that now I’ve done a bit more exploring I keep finding quicker, shorter, simpler ways of getting about, and it feels like things are getting easier when I should be looking for more of a challenge to develop further.
*oh yeah, for girlfriend read fiancé – we got engaged on Boxing Day!