Since it’s Easter, and my birthday was on Tuesday, I’ve taken the week off. Obviously, it’s the perfect opportunity to do all that wedding planning that I’ve not had time for until now (invites are on their way, rings were sorted today) but it’s also a time to get some serious riding done. So I’ve set myself a little challenge: 20 miles a day, every day for a week.
Sunday was day one. I went out at about 10am so I wouldn’t miss the Grand Prix in the afternoon, and headed out down my old favourite lane, turning right towards the village of Salt. I was feeling pretty fresh, and I carried on through until I got to Weston Bank, just opposite Weston Hall restaurant. I turned round and stopped in Salt for a drink and a breather. I stopped here last week and met a nice old cyclist who seemed very interested in my bike, but I think he’s a fairly recent convert since he didn’t seem to know much about old bikes. I came back well in time for the race, having seen more cats than cars on the lanes. I timed it well as I knew there was a shower on the way, and it arrived just as I was half a mile from home.
Later on I rode my folding bike over to my fiancée’s with my track pump on the back so that I could pump up the tyres on her bike and ride that one back, while she brought my folder back in her car. On the way my folder turned into a two-speed, as I couldn’t engage the middle gear. I’ve opened up the hub since and nothing’s broken, so I don’t know what happened there. Riding her bike back I was trying to find things that might need fixing, but it was just absolutely bulletproof! The chain probably needs changing but apart from that I always say it’s the best bike in terms of condition out of all the ones I’ve bought. The one thing I have changed is I’ve pinched the rear rack for my own 3-speed, as I do actually have a need for it.
On Monday my fiancée and I FINALLY went for a bike ride, in my neck of the woods this time as I think it’s easier to go for a ride when you don’t live at the top of a hill. I offered her some gloves as we set off as it was a bit fresh, but she refused. Less than half a mile later she was very glad I’d brought them with me as her hands were freezing! We went down to the bottom of Tixall Road, across Two Waters Way and then along the canal, before heading towards the shopping centre on Lichfield Road for tea at Costa. My fiancée is always more suggestible when there’s tea…
She’s still a very slow, timid rider, which is a bit of a nightmare when I have to keep looking over my shoulder to keep an eye on her. I was regularly having to slow down to let her catch up, and when I say slow, I mean so slow my computer was struggling to display a speed! It’s not a problem I ever had, I was always going above 10mph on the flat, but it has the advantage that she can cover quite a large distance for a beginner. It’s got to be said, she does look very lovely riding that old bicycle. Sadly she’s not getting on well with the saddle, it doesn’t seem to fit her right, so I’ll need to sort that out if we’re going to do this more regularly. I’ll try her on my Brooks B66 and if that goes down well I’ll find a ladies version for her.
Later on I went out through Doxey on a road I’ve been meaning to ride for some time. I’d just got out of Stafford when I was engulfed by a peloton of riders from Stafford Road Club, which is the local cycling club. They all said a cheery hello as they passed me, and I figured I’d follow them for a bit as I didn’t know the road and would be a bit safer with regards to oncoming cars. It was a fairly gentle ride they were on so I was able to keep up with them, while keeping a polite distance back. I managed to maintain a pretty consistent 17mph for several miles behind them and felt I could have kept that up indefinitely, which might in part be down to slipstreaming, but also because my cruising speed has been increasing of late.
Eventually I peeled off for a drink and they pressed on down the lanes, leaving me by the side of the road apparently in the middle of nowhere. Joining a club had crossed my mind but I thought about it a bit more having learned I could keep up. One thing I was curious about was that while I was riding behind them I was very conscious that I kept freewheeling, but they never did – or never seemed to. I know modern freehubs are much quieter (mine makes quite a racket!) but they did seem to be pedalling consistently. Is this a standard technique thing? Or is it to do with a naturally different way of riding different types of bike? I rode back home without much fuss, having done about 16 miles there and back. The weather was just how I like it, slightly overcast but dry, with just a slight breeze.
Tuesday was my birthday, and I popped into town for a coffee, nosed around a couple of shops and came home, then later I rode out to Aston Marina again. I was still feeling pretty fresh considering this was Day 3, and I’d arranged to go out for pizza later so I had that thought urging me on. I stopped at the Marina and noticed something I’d not seen before, a little box for people to leave and borrow books from. Maybe when I next pop down I’ll leave a book in there, it’s a nice little community-spirited thing. I absolutely demolished the pizza when I got back…
Yesterday I first of all cycled round to my fiancée’s to meet the woman who was selling us our wedding rings. That’s now a 20 minute ride but still gets me every time. I’m not good at taking it easy on a bicycle, I’m always going as quick as I reasonably can! After we’d looked through all her samples and picked our rings (and handed over a serious chunk of money…) we decided to go to a cafe to ‘celebrate’. I rode through the Rowley Road estate, which is a private road though still passable by bicycle. I got a bit lost and ended up at Rowley Hall hospital, which I hadn’t seen since I was 7 and having my tonsils out. It looked much the same. I remember all I was allowed to eat was vanilla ice cream, and I still have a slight aversion to it. After that I found the right road, went up Rowley Bank and along the path by the railway line to the same Costa we went to on Monday.
Later on I rode out through Doxey again, down the same road I’d seen the cycle club, but turned off to Derrington. I cycled past my Grandad’s old house, and then stopped for a drink by the church where his funeral was held. It’s a nice little church, I haven’t seen it in 18 years.
Today I tidied up my car, which was long overdue. Several months of commuting had left it full of junk. I packed my folding bike into the back, dropped it off for a service and rode back. Later on I’ll be back in town catching up with an old friend and taking him to see former England cricketer (and professional Yorkshireman) Geoffrey Boycott at the theatre. So I’m just off to fit in another few miles before that. This ride will take me over 100 miles for the week, and it’s only Thursday!